“Mightily Pleased!” – S. Pepys


Barbara Van Beck (Ursula Dyan), engraving by Gaywood

Samuel Pepys, 17th Century Theater Critic
The Woman That Is to Be Seen with a Beard – Ursula Dyan – ★★★★☆
Macbeth by William Shakespeare [adapt. W. Davenant?] – ★★★☆☆

Monday December 21, 1668:

“…first went into Holborne, and there saw the woman that is to be seen with a beard. She is a little plain woman, a Dane: her name, Ursula Dyan; about forty years old; her voice like a little girl’s; with a beard as much as any man I ever saw, black almost, and grizly; they offered to shew my wife further satisfaction if she desired it, refusing it to men that desired it there, but there is no doubt but by her voice she is a woman; it begun to grow at about seven years old, and was shaved not above seven months ago, and is now so big as any man’s almost that ever I saw; I say, bushy and thick. It was a strange sight to me, I confess, and what pleased me mightily.

Thence to the Duke’s playhouse, and saw “Macbeth.” The King and Court there; and we sat just under them and my Lady Castlemayne, and close to the woman that comes into the pit, a kind of a loose gossip, that pretends to be like her, and is so, something. And my wife, by my troth, appeared, I think, as pretty as any of them; I never thought so much before; and so did Talbot and W. Hewer, as they said, I heard, to one another. The King and Duke of York minded me, and smiled upon me, at the handsome woman near me but it vexed me to see Moll Davis, in the box over the King’s and my Lady Castlemayne’s head, look down upon the King, and he up to her; and so did my Lady Castlemayne once, to see who it was; but when she saw her, she looked like fire; which troubled me.”

via The Diary of Samuel Pepys

 

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