Lucian Wilde was born in Wye, near Canterbury, England. He was the third child of Bartholomew Wilde, a barber, and his wife, Elizabeth. He had an older brother, Adam (1644-1665) and sister, Isabel (1646-1689).
Though not a noble family by birth, Lucian's father had a good reputation and knew many important men. When he was 15, Bartholomew was appointed Lt. Governor of the colony of Surinam in South America. Lucian, Isabel, and their mother accompanied him on this journey. Lucian was not suited to the warm, tropical climate in Surinam and spent most of his time writing and plotting his escape from what he later called "that wretched place." The family finally left in 1664 but his father died at sea on the voyage back.
Toast of London
During the family's stay in Surinam, Lucian's brother Adam, a goldsmith by trade, had become successful as a jeweler to the court of King Charles II. Upon their return to London, Adam introduced both of his siblings to the court where they became popular visitors.
Lucian was a gifted playwright whose first play A Gentleman's Folly was received with great acclaim at the Theatre Royal and further ensured his status as a favorite at court. He later wrote for the Duke's Company where he continued to see success.
A notorious gambler, Lucian was never to amass a fortune for himself despite his success. He was deeply in debt, and generally relied on the generosity of his patrons or his sister Isabel to maintain his lavish lifestyle. His love for gossip, schemes, and meddling, however, often put him at odds with the very people who supported him.
Though Lucian was linked with many of the most beautiful woman of the period, he was said to prefer the company of men. Whether he was bisexual or homosexual is not known, but he never married or had any legitimate children.
Author's note: The portrait above is of John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester. Lucian Wilde is only loosely based on him–rather, he is a composite of many of the playwrights and characters of the time.