A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Wycherley, William

Wycherley, William (1640?-1716).—Dramatist, was b. at Clive, near Shrewsbury, where his f. had an estate. He was at the Inner Temple in 1659, and at Oxf. in 1660. Part of his youth had been spent in France, where he became a Roman Catholic, but at the Restoration he returned to Protestantism. He wrote four comedies, Love in a Wood, The Gentleman Dancing Master, The Country Wife, and The Plain Dealer, all produced in the reign of Charles II., and nothing of consequence afterwards, a vol. of poems doing little to add to his reputation. About 1679 he m. the widowed Countess of Drogheda, who d. in 1681, and he entered into a second marriage eleven days before his death. In his later years he formed a friendship with Pope, then a boy of 16. W. was one of the founders of the Comedy of Manners. The merit of his plays lies in smart and witty dialogue rather than in construction. The Plain Dealer, his best, is founded upon Molière's Misanthrope. His plays are notoriously coarse.