William Wycherley (.. - January 01, 1716)
Died: 1st January, 1716
Nationality: English
Profession/Occupation: Dramatist
Region: England, London
Notable works: "The Country-Wife", "Love in a Wood; or, St. James's Park", "The Gentleman Dancing-Master", "The Plain-Dealer"

William Wycherley Facts

Biography

William Wycherley, (born 1641--died Jan. 1, 1716, London), English dramatist who attempted to reconcile in his plays a personal conflict between deep-seated puritanism and an ardent physical nature. He perhaps succeeded best in The Country-Wife (1675), in which satiric comment on excessive jealousy and complacency was blended with a richly comic presentation, the characters unconsciously revealing themselves in laughter-provoking colloquies. It was as satirist that his own age most admired him: William Congreve regarded Wycherley as one appointed "to lash this crying age."

Wycherley's father was steward to the marquess of Winchester. Wycherley was sent to be educated in France at age 15. There he became a Roman Catholic. After returning to England to study law, in 1660 he entered Queen's College, Oxford. He soon left without a degree, though he had converted back to Protestantism. Little is known of his life in the 1660s; he may have traveled to Spain as a diplomat, and he probably fought in the naval war against the Dutch in 1665. In this period he drafted his first play, Love in a Wood; or, St. James's Park, and in the autumn of 1671 it was presented in London, bringing its author instant acclaim. Wycherley was taken up by Barbara Villiers, duchess of Cleveland, whose favours he shared with King Charles II, and he was admitted to the circle of wits at court. His next play, The Gentleman Dancing-Master, was presented in 1672 but proved unsuccessful. These early plays--both of which have some good farcical moments--followed tradition in "curing excess" by presenting a satiric portrait of variously pretentious characters--fops, rakes, would-be wits, and the solemn of every kind. The Plain-Dealer, presented in 1676, satirizes rapacious greed. The satire is crude and brutal, but pointed and effective. In The Country-Wife, acted a year earlier, the criticism of manners and society remains severe, but there is no longer a sense of the author despising his characters.

Wycherley, who had led a fashionably dissolute life during these years, fell ill in 1678. In 1680 he secretly married the countess of Drogheda, a rigid puritan who kept him on such a short rein that he lost his favour at court. A year later the lady died, leaving her husband a considerable fortune. But the will was contested, and Wycherley ruined himself fighting the case. Cast into a debtor's prison, he was rescued seven years later by King James II, who paid off most of his debts and allowed him a small pension. This was lost when James was deposed in 1688. In the early 18th century, Wycherley befriended the young Alexander Pope, who helped revise his poems. On his deathbed, Wycherley received the last rites of the Roman Catholic church, to which he had apparently reverted after being rescued from prison.

Top 18 William Wycherley quotes

A mistress should be like a little country retreat near the town, not to dwell in constantly, but only for a night and away.
Away
Constantly
Country
Dwell
Like
Little
Mistress
Near
Night
Only
Retreat
Should
Town
Thy books should, like thy friends, not many be, yet such wherein men may thy judgment see.
Books
Friends
Judgment
Like
Many
May
Men
See
Should
Thy
Wherein
Good fellowship and friendship are lasting, rational and manly pleasures.
Fellowship
Friendship
Good
Lasting
Manly
Pleasures
Rational
I have heard people eat most heartily of another man's meat, that is, what they do not pay for.
Another
Eat
Heard
Man
Meat
Most
Pay
People
Marrying to increase love is like gaming to become rich; alas, you only lose what little stock you had before.
Alas
Become
Before
Gaming
Had
Increase
Like
Little
Lose
Love
Love is
Marrying
Only
Rich
Mistresses are like books; if you pore upon them too much, they doze you and make you unfit for company; but if used discreetly, you are the fitter for conversation by em.
Books
Company
Conversation
Like
Make
Mistresses
Much
Them
Too
Too much
Unfit
Used
You
Women serve but to keep a man from better company.
Better
Company
Keep
Man
Serve
Women
Your women of honor, as you call em, are only chary of their reputations, not their persons; and 'Tis scandal that they would avoid, not men.
Avoid
Call
Honor
Men
Only
Persons
Reputations
Scandal
Tis
Women
Would
You
Your
Women of quality are so civil, you can hardly distinguish love from good breeding.
Breeding
Civil
Distinguish
Good
Good breeding
Hardly
Love
Quality
Women
You
I weigh the man, not his title; 'tis not the king's stamp can make the metal better.
Better
His
King
Make
Man
Metal
Stamp
Tis
Title
Weigh
Go to your business, pleasure, whilst I go to my pleasure, business.
Business
Go
Pleasure
Whilst
Your
Next to the pleasure of finding a new mistress is that of being rid of an old one.
Being
Finding
Mistress
New
Next
Old
Old one
Pleasure
Rid
Hunger, revenge, to sleep are petty foes, But only death the jealous eyes can close.
Close
Death
Eyes
Foes
Hunger
Jealous
Only
Petty
Revenge
Sleep
Bluster, sputter, question, cavil; but be sure your argument be intricate enough to confound the court.
Argument
Confound
Court
Enough
Intricate
Question
Sure
Your
Come, for my part I will have only those glorious, manly pleasures of being very drunk, and very slovenly.
Being
Come
Drunk
Glorious
Manly
Only
Part
Pleasures
Slovenly
Those
Very
Will
Poets, like friends to whom you are in debt, you hate.
Debt
Friends
Hate
Like
Poets
Whom
You
Wit is more necessary than beauty; and I think no young woman ugly that has it, and no handsome woman agreeable without it.
Agreeable
Beauty
Handsome
I think
More
Necessary
Than
Think
Ugly
Wit
Without
Woman
Young
Young woman
He's a fool that marries, but he's a greater that does not marry a fool; what is wit in a wife good for, but to make a man a cuckold?
Does
Fool
Good
Greater
He
Make
Man
Marry
Wife
Wit

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