"a Shakespeare, or a Johnson, of a Wycherly, or an Otway"

William Wycherley
Public DomainWilliam Wycherley - Credit: Sir Peter Lely
William Wycherley (c. 1640 - 1715) was an English dramatist of the Restoration period. His first play, Love in a Wood, was produced early in 1671 at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.  He became the talk of the court.  The song at the end of the first act, in praise of harlots and their offspring, attracted the attention, and subsequently the favours, of the king's mistress, Barbara Villiers.  His second comedy, The Gentleman Dancing Master, was produced in 1671 (but wasn’t very good). His last two comedies, The Country Wife (1672) and The Plain Dealer, are remembered as his best.