William Wycherley

William Wycherley (wĬch´ərlē), 1640?–1716, English dramatist, b. near Shrewsbury. His first comedy, Love in a Wood (1671), was a huge success and won him the favor of the duchess of Cleveland, mistress of Charles II. His next play, The Gentleman Dancing-Master (1672), was followed by his two masterpieces, The Country Wife (1674?), in which the hero feigns castration as a cover for his affairs, and The Plain Dealer (1676), an exposé laden with satirical irony on the deception inherent in love and friendship. His brilliant wit and savagely clever satire give him a prominent place in the history of English Restoration drama. He lost court favor by his marriage (c.1680) to the countess of Drogheda, and after her death he spent several years in prison for debt. With the accession of James II he was released from prison and given a pension. The publication of his Miscellany Poems in 1704 led to a friendship with young Pope, who revised many of the elder poet's verses.

See his complete plays, ed. by G. Weales (1966); biography by W. Connely (1930, repr. 1969); studies by R. Zimbardo (1965), U. Santz (1978), and E. McCarthy (1985).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Love in a Wood; The Gentleman Dancing-Master; The Country Wife; The Plain Dealer
William Wycherley; Peter Dixon.
Oxford University, 1996
Brawny Wycherley, First Master in English Modern Comedy
Willard Connely.
C. Scribner's Sons, 1930
The Comic Spirit in Restoration Drama: Studies in the Comedy of Etherege, Wycherley, Congreve, Vanbrugh, and Farquhar
Henry Ten Erck Perry.
Yale University Press, 1925
FREE! The Comedy of Manners
John Palmer.
G. Bell & Sons, 1913
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IV "William Wycherley"
Restoration Comedy, 1660-1720
Bonamy Dobrée.
Clarendon Press, 1924
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VI "Wycherley"
Humor in British Literature, from the Middle Ages to the Restoration: A Reference Guide
Don L. E. Nilsen.
Greenwood Press, 1997
A Survey-History of English Literature
William Bradley Otis; Morriss H. Needleman.
Barnes & Noble, 1938
FREE! English Drama of the Restoration and Eighteenth Century (1642-1780)
George Henry Nettleton.
Macmillan, 1914
William Congreve: The Critical Heritage
Alexander Lindsay; Howard Erskine-Hill.
Routledge, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of William Wycherley in multiple chapters
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