Born Eleanor, she was a popular comic actress. Her father was Thomas Gwynne, a Royalist Army Captain during the English Civil War. Called "pretty, witty Nell" by Samuel Pepys, she has become the embodiment of the spirit of Restoration England and a folk heroine. Her rags-to-royalty tale was the result of her becoming the mistress of King Charles II. Nell bore Charles two sons, both of whom were recognized by the king. Her rivalry with French-born mistress Louise de Kerouaille became legend, often making the latter the butt of pranks or jokes.