Richard Flecknoe, English dramatist and poet, the object of Dryden's satire, was probably of English birth, although there is no corroboration of the suggestion of Joseph Gillow, that he was a nephew of a Jesuit priest, William Flecknoe, or more properly Flexney, of Oxford.
The few known facts of his life are chiefly derived from his Relation of Ten Years' Travels in Europe, Asia, Afrique and America, consisting of letters written to friends and patrons during his travels. The first of these is dated from Ghent, whither he had fled to escape the troubles of the Civil War. In Brussels he met Béatrix de Cusance, wife of Charles IV, Duke of Lorraine, who sent him to Rome to secure the legalization of her marriage. There in 1645 Andrew Marvell met him, and described his leanness and his rage for versifying in a witty satire, "Flecknoe, an English Priest at Rome." He was probably, however, not in priest's orders.
He then travelled in the Levant, and in 1648 crossed the Atlantic to Brazil, of which country he gives a detailed description. On his return to Europe he entered the household of the duchess of Lorraine in Brussels. In 1645 he went back to England. His royalist and Catholic convictions did not prevent him from writing a book in praise of Oliver Cromwell, The Idea of His Highness Oliver ..., dedicated to Richard Cromwell. This publication was discounted at the restoration by the Heroick Portraits of Charles II and others of the Stuart family. John Dryden used his name as a stalking horse from behind which to assail Thomas Shadwell in Mac Flecknoe The opening lines run: