Cursed: Who is the Lady of the Lake? Was Nimue real? Origins explained

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Cursed premiered on Netflix on Friday, July 19 and fantasy fans have been binge-watching the series since it dropped. One thing viewers are keen to know more about is Katherine Langford’s character, Nimue, also known as Lady of the Lake. has everything you need to know.

Who is the Lady of the Lake? Was Nimue real?

13 Reasons Why star Katherine Langford plays Nimue in Cursed on Netflix.

Nimue is another name given to the Lady of the Lake, who is also known as Ninianne and Viviane.

The Lady of Lake has is an enchantress in the Matter of Britain, a body of medieval literature associated with King Arthur.

King Arthur was a legendary British leader, who according to medieval histories and romances defended Britain against the Saxon invaders in the late 5th and 6th centuries.

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Just like King Arthur, there is no evidence an enchantress by the name of Lady of the Lake or Nimue existed.

However, there could well have been a woman like Lady of the Lake, who aided King Arthur during his reign.

In medieval literature and legend, the lady of the lake played a pivotal role in many stories including giving Arthur his sword Excalibur, enchanting Merlin, and raising Lancelot after the death of his father.

There are two versions of The Lady of the Lake recorded in medieval prose.

In the Post-Vulgate Cycle of the Arthurian literature, a Lady of the Lake grants the magic sword, Excalibur, to Arthur which is the most recognisable tale of The Lady of the Lake.

In many modern novels and films about King Arthur, the Lady of the Lake is portrayed as a mythical creature who grants Arthur the iconic sword underwater in exchange for several favours from the King.

However, another Lady of Lake first appeared in French chivalric romances, known as Nimue.

She is described as a fairy godmother type of character and the mother of Lancelot.

She earned the nickname Lady of the Lake as she was described as living in an enchanted realm which gave the illusion of a lake.

Nimue raised Lancelot on the lake, following the death of his father King Ban.

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The Lady of the Lake was also the lover of Merlin and she trapped him in the trunk of a Hawthrone tree or beneath a stone according to the Lancelot-Grail prose.

In Cursed on Netflix, Katherine Langford’s Nimue draws on both depictions of The Lady of the Lake.

The series is based on the illustrated novel of the same name by Tom Wheeler and Frank Miller and tells Nimue’s story.

She is portrayed as a young woman living amongst her fairy people during a war.

Nimue’s mother has entrusted her with the Excalibur sword which must be delivered to the wizard Merlin (played by Gustaf Skarsgard) and Nimue finds herself embarking on her journey which will change her world forever.


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Speaking to the Radio Times, Lady of the Lake star Katherine Langford explained: “When we think of the Arthurian legends we think of Arthur, Merlin, the Knights of the Round Table.

“But we don’t really know a lot about the other characters in that legend. Specifically this powerful, iconic character of the Lady of the Lake – she is so prolific and yet we have very little to no information about her.”

She added: “Though there’s a lot of beautiful art and a couple of folklore influences and things that have been created about her as the Lady of the Lake, there’s really nothing about her before she becomes that iconic figure.

“Nimue’s story hasn’t really been told, and in that sense, it gave us a lot of creative freedom….to be able to retell a story that has been retold hundreds and hundreds of times through a lens that’s completely fresh.”

Cursed is streaming on Netflix now

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