Christopher Marlowe

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Christopher Marlowe
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{{about|the English dramatist|the American sportscaster|Chris Marlowe}}{{short description|16th-century English dramatist, poet and translator}}{{use British English|date=May 2012}}{{use dmy dates|date=June 2018}}

Christopher Marlowe, also known as Kit Marlowe ({{IPAc-en|ˈ|m|ɑr|l|oʊ}}; baptised 26 February 1564{{spaced ndash}}30 May 1593), was an English playwright, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era."Christopher Marlowe was baptised as 'Marlow,' but he spelled his name 'Marley' in his one known surviving signature." David Kathman. "The Spelling and Pronunciation of Shakespeare's Name: Pronunciation." Marlowe was the foremost Elizabethan tragedian of his day.Robert A. Logan, Shakespeare's Marlowe (2007) p.4. "During Marlowe's lifetime, the popularity of his plays, Robert Greene's ... remarks ... including the designation "famous", and the many imitations of Tamburlaine suggest that he was for a brief time considered England's foremost dramatist." He greatly influenced William Shakespeare, who was born in the same year as Marlowe and who rose to become the pre-eminent Elizabethan playwright after Marlowe's mysterious early death. Marlowe's plays are known for the use of blank verse and their overreaching protagonists.Some scholars believe that a warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May 1593.WEB,weblink Playwright Thomas Kyd’s accusations lead to an arrest warrant for Christopher Marlowe, Editors, History com, HISTORY, en, 2019-02-18, No reason was given for it, though it was thought to be connected to allegations of blasphemy—a manuscript believed to have been written by Marlowe was said to contain "vile heretical conceipts". On 20 May, he was brought to the court to attend upon the Privy Council for questioning. There is no record of their having met that day and he was commanded to attend upon them each day thereafter until "licensed to the contrary". Ten days later, he was stabbed to death by Ingram Frizer. Whether or not the stabbing was connected to his arrest remains unknown.Nicholl, Charles (2006). "By my onely meanes sett downe: The Texts of Marlow's Atheism", in Kozuka, Takashi and Mulryne, J. R. Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson: New Directions in Biography. Ashgate Publishing, p. 153.

Early life

Marlowe was born in Canterbury to shoemaker John Marlowe and his wife Catherine. His date of birth is not known but he was baptised on 26 February 1564 and is likely to have been born a few days before, making him two months older than William Shakespeare, who was baptised on 26 April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon.Marlowe attended The King's School in Canterbury (where a house is named after him) and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he studied on a scholarship and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1584.{{acad|id=MRLW580C|name=Marlowe, Christopher}} In 1587, the university hesitated to award him his Master of Arts degree because of a rumour that he intended to go to the English college at Rheims, presumably to prepare for ordination as a Roman Catholic priest. His degree was awarded on schedule when the Privy Council intervened on his behalf, commending him for his "faithful dealing" and "good service" to the Queen.For a full transcript, see Peter Farey's Marlowe page (Retrieved 30 April 2015). The nature of Marlowe's service was not specified by the Council but its letter to the Cambridge authorities has provoked much speculation, notably the theory that Marlowe was operating as a secret agent working for Sir Francis Walsingham.He died in a brawl.BOOK, Hutchinson, Robert, Elizabeth's Spy Master: Francis Walsingham and the Secret War that Saved England, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006, London, 111, 978-0-297-84613-0, No direct evidence supports this theory, although the Council's letter is evidence that Marlowe had served the government in some secret capacity.

Literary career

{{more citations needed section|date=May 2017}}File:Canterbury - Turm der St. George's Church, in der Marlowe getauft wurde.jpg|thumb|right|200px|Marlowe was christened at St George's Church, in CanterburyCanterburyFile:OldCurtCC.JPG|thumb|right|200px|The corner of Old Court of Corpus Christi College, CambridgeCorpus Christi College, CambridgeOf the dramas attributed to Marlowe, Dido, Queen of Carthage is believed to have been his first. It was performed by the Children of the Chapel, a company of boy actors, between 1587 and 1593. The play was first published in 1594; the title page attributes the play to Marlowe and Thomas Nashe.Marlowe's first play performed on the regular stage in London, in 1587, was Tamburlaine the Great, about the conqueror Timur (Tamerlane), who rises from shepherd to warlord. It is among the first English plays in blank verse and with Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy, generally is considered the beginning of the mature phase of the Elizabethan theatre.WEB,weblink See especially the middle section in which the author shows how another Cambridge graduate, Thomas Preston makes his title character express his love in a popular play written around 1560 and compares that "clumsy" line with Doctor Faustus addressing Helen of Troy,, 10 December 2011, Tamburlaine was a success and was followed with Tamburlaine the Great, Part II.The two parts of Tamburlaine were published in 1590; all Marlowe's other works were published posthumously. The sequence of the writing of his other four plays is unknown; all deal with controversial themes.
  • The Jew of Malta (first published as The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Jew of Malta), about the Jew Barabas' barbarous revenge against the city authorities, has a prologue delivered by a character representing Machiavelli. It was probably written in 1589 or 1590 and was first performed in 1592. It was a success and remained popular for the next fifty years. The play was entered in the Stationers' Register on 17 May 1594 but the earliest surviving printed edition is from 1633.
  • Edward the Second is an English history play about the deposition of King Edward II by his barons and the Queen, who resent the undue influence the king's favourites have in court and state affairs. The play was entered into the Stationers' Register on 6 July 1593, five weeks after Marlowe's death. The full title of the earliest extant edition, of 1594, is The troublesome reigne and lamentable death of Edward the second, King of England, with the tragicall fall of proud Mortimer.
  • The Massacre at Paris is a short and luridly written work, the only surviving text of which was probably a reconstruction from memory of the original performance text, portraying the events of the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572, which English Protestants invoked as the blackest example of Catholic treachery.BOOK, Deats, Sarah Munson, Cheney, Patrick, The Cambridge Companion to Christopher Marlowe, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, 2004, 193, 'Dido Queen of Carthage' and 'The Massacre at Paris', 978-0-521-82034-9, It features the silent "English Agent", whom tradition has identified with Marlowe and his connexions to the secret service.Wilson, Richard (2004). "Tragedy, Patronage and Power". in Cheney, Patrick, 2007, p. 207 The Massacre at Paris is considered his most dangerous play, as agitators in London seized on its theme to advocate the murders of refugees from the low countries and it warns Elizabeth I of this possibility in its last scene.BOOK, Nicholl, Charles, The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe, Jonathan Cape, London, 1992, 41, Libels and Heresies, 978-0-224-03100-4, BOOK, Hoenselaars, A. J., Images of Englishmen and Foreigners in the Drama of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Madison, New Jersey, 1992, 78–79, Englishmen abroad 1558–1603, 978-0-8386-3431-8, The full title was The Massacre at Paris: With the Death of the Duke of Guise.
  • Doctor Faustus (or The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus), based on the German Faustbuch, was the first dramatised version of the Faust legend of a scholar's dealing with the devil.This was the title of the (B text) edition published in 1616. The earlier (A text) edition of 1604 simply had The Tragicall History of D. Faustus. Versions of "The Devil's Pact" can be traced back to the 4th century, Marlowe deviates significantly by having his hero unable to "burn his books" or repent to a merciful God to have his contract annulled at the end of the play. Marlowe's protagonist is instead carried off by demons and in the 1616 quarto his mangled corpse is found by several scholars. Doctor Faustus is a textual problem for scholars as two versions of the play exist: the 1604 quarto, also known as the A text and the 1616 quarto or B text. Both were published after Marlowe's death. Scholars have disagreed which text is more representative of Marlowe's original and some editions are based on a combination of the two. The scholarly consensus of the late 20th century holds the A text is more representative because it contains irregular character names and idiosyncratic spelling, which are believed to reflect a text based on the author's handwritten manuscript or "foul papers". The B text, in comparison, was highly edited, censored because of shifting theater laws regarding religious words onstage and contains several additional scenes which scholars believe to be the additions of other playwrights, particularly Samuel Rowley and William Bird (alias Borne).
Marlowe's plays were enormously successful, thanks in part, no doubt, to the imposing stage presence of Edward Alleyn. Alleyn was unusually tall for the time and the haughty roles of Tamburlaine, Faustus and Barabas were probably written for him. Marlowe's plays were the foundation of the repertoire of Alleyn's company, the Admiral's Men, throughout the 1590s. Marlowe also wrote the poem Hero and Leander (published in 1598 and with a continuation by George Chapman the same year), the popular lyric The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, translations of Ovid's Amores and the first book of Lucan's Pharsalia. In 1599, his translation of Ovid was banned and copies publicly burned as part of Archbishop Whitgift's crackdown on offensive material. Marlowe has been credited in the New Oxford Shakespeare series as co-author of the three Henry VI plays, though some scholars doubt any actual collaboration.NEWS, Shea, Christopher D., New Oxford Shakespeare Edition Credits Christopher Marlowe as a Co-author,weblink 24 October 2016, The New York Times, 24 October 2016, NEWS, Christopher Marlowe credited as Shakespeare's co-writer,weblink 24 October 2016, BBC, 24 October 2016,


As with other writers of the period, little is known about Marlowe. What evidence there is can be found in legal records and other official documents. This has not stopped writers of fiction and non-fiction from speculating about his activities and character. Marlowe has often been described as a spy, a brawler and a heretic, as well as a "magician", "duellist", "tobacco-user", "counterfeiter" and "rakehell". J. A. Downie and Constance Kuriyama have argued against the more lurid speculation but J. B. Steane remarked, "it seems absurd to dismiss all of these Elizabethan rumours and accusations as 'the Marlowe myth{{'"}}.J. A. Downie in his and J. T. Parnell's Constructing Christopher Marlowe (2000) and Constance Kuriyama in her Christopher Marlowe: A Renaissance Life (2002).


File:Edward2a.jpg|thumb|200px|Title page of the earliest published text of Edward II (1594)]]Marlowe is alleged to have been a government spy (Park Honan's 2005 biography of Marlowe was even subtitled "Poet and Spy"Park Honan, Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy, 2005.). The author Charles Nicholl speculates this was the case and suggests that Marlowe's recruitment took place when he was at Cambridge. As noted above, in 1587 the Privy Council ordered the University of Cambridge to award Marlowe his degree of Master of Arts, denying rumours that he intended to go to the English Catholic college in Rheims, saying instead that he had been engaged in unspecified "affaires" on "matters touching the benefit of his country".This is from a document dated 29 June 1587, from the National Archives – Acts of Privy Council. Surviving college records from the period also indicate that Marlowe had had a series of unusually lengthy absences from the university (much longer than permitted by university regulations) that began in the academic year 1584–1585. Surviving college buttery (provisions store) accounts indicate he began spending lavishly on food and drink during the periods he was in attendance, more than he could have afforded on his known scholarship income.BOOK, Nicholl, Charles, The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe, Jonathan Cape, London, 1992, 12, 978-0-224-03100-4, {{refn|group=nb|It is known that some poorer students worked as labourers on the Corpus Christi College chapel, then under construction and were paid by the college with extra food. It has been suggested this may be the reason for the sums noted in Marlowe's entry in the buttery accounts.BOOK, David Riggs, The World of Christopher Marlowe, 65, 2004, Faber, 978-0-571-22159-2, }}It has been speculated that Marlowe was the "Morley" who was tutor to Arbella Stuart in 1589.He was described by Arbella's guardian, the Countess of Shrewsbury, as having hoped for an annuity of some £40 from Arbella, his being "so much damnified (i.e. having lost this much) by leaving the University.": BL Lansdowne MS. 71, f.3.and Charles Nicholl, The Reckoning (1992), pp. 340–2. This possibility was first raised in a Times Literary Supplement letter by E. St John Brooks in 1937; in a letter to Notes and Queries, John Baker has added that only Marlowe could have been Arbella's tutor due to the absence of any other known "Morley" from the period with an MA and not otherwise occupied.John Baker, letter to Notes and Queries 44.3 (1997), pp. 367–8 If Marlowe was Arbella's tutor (and some biographers think that the "Morley" in question may have been a brother of the musician Thomas Morley), it might indicate that he was there as a spy, since Arbella, niece of Mary, Queen of Scots, and cousin of James VI of Scotland, later James I of England, was at the time a strong candidate for the succession to Elizabeth's throne.Constance Kuriyama, Christopher Marlowe: A Renaissance Life (2002), p. 89. Also in Handover's biography of Arbella, and Nicholl, The Reckoning, p. 342.Elizabeth I and James VI and I, History in Focus. Frederick S. Boas dismisses the possibility of this identification, based on surviving legal records which document his "residence in London between September and December 1589". Marlowe had been party to a fatal quarrel involving his neighbours and the poet Thomas Watson in Norton Folgate and was held in Newgate Prison for a fortnight.Frederick S. Boas, Christopher Marlowe: A biographical and critical study (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953), pp. 101ff. In fact, the quarrel and his arrest was on 18 September, he was released on bail on 1 October and he had to attend court, where he was acquitted on 3 December but there is no record of where he was for the intervening two months.Constance Kuriyama, Christopher Marlowe: A Renaissance Life (2002), p. xvi.In 1592 Marlowe was arrested in the town of Flushing (Vlissingen) (then an English garrison town) in the Netherlands, for his alleged involvement in the counterfeiting of coins, presumably related to the activities of seditious Catholics. He was sent to be dealt with by the Lord Treasurer (Burghley) but no charge or imprisonment resulted.For a full transcript, see Peter Farey's Marlowe page (Retrieved 30 April 2015). This arrest may have disrupted another of Marlowe's spying missions, perhaps by giving the resulting coinage to the Catholic cause. He was to infiltrate the followers of the active Catholic plotter William Stanley and report back to Burghley.Nicholl (1992: 246–248)

Arrest and death

File:marlowe.jpg|thumb|Marlowe was buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard of St Nicholas, DeptfordDeptfordIn early May 1593, several bills were posted about London threatening Protestant refugees from France and the Netherlands who had settled in the city. One of these, the "Dutch church libel", written in rhymed iambic pentameter, contained allusions to several of Marlowe's plays and was signed, "Tamburlaine".For a full transcript, see Peter Farey's Marlowe page (Retrieved 31 March 2012). On 11 May the Privy Council ordered the arrest of those responsible for the libels. The next day, Marlowe's colleague Thomas Kyd was arrested, his lodgings were searched and a three-page fragment of a heretical tract was found. In a letter to Sir John Puckering, Kyd asserted that it had belonged to Marlowe, with whom he had been writing "in one chamber" some two years earlier.J. R. Mulryne states in his ODNB article that the document was identified in the 20th century as transcripts from John Proctour's The Fall of the Late Arian (1549).For a full transcript of Kyd's letter, see Peter Farey's Marlowe page (Retrieved 30 April 2015). In a second letter, Kyd described Marlowe as blasphemous, disorderly, holding treasonous opinions, being an irreligious reprobate and "intemperate & of a cruel hart". They had both been working for an aristocratic patron, probably Ferdinando Stanley, Lord Strange.Mulryne, J. R. "Thomas Kyd." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. A warrant for Marlowe's arrest was issued on 18 May, when the Privy Council apparently knew that he might be found staying with Thomas Walsingham, whose father was a first cousin of the late Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth's principal secretary in the 1580s and a man more deeply involved in state espionage than any other member of the Privy Council.Haynes, Alan. The Elizabethan Secret Service. London: Sutton, 2005. Marlowe duly presented himself on 20 May but there apparently being no Privy Council meeting on that day, was instructed to "give his daily attendance on their Lordships, until he shall be licensed to the contrary".National Archives, Acts of the Privy Council. Meetings of the Privy Council, including details of those attending, are recorded and minuted for 16, 23, 25, 29 and the morning of 31 May, all of them taking place in the Star Chamber at Westminster. There is no record of any meeting on either 18 or 20 May, however, just a note of the warrant being issued on 18 May and the fact that Marlowe "entered his appearance for his indemnity therein" on the 20th. On Wednesday, 30 May, Marlowe was killed.Various accounts of Marlowe's death were current over the next few years. In his Palladis Tamia, published in 1598, Francis Meres says Marlowe was "stabbed to death by a bawdy serving-man, a rival of his in his lewd love" as punishment for his "epicurism and atheism".Palladis Tamia. London, 1598: 286v-287r. In 1917, in the Dictionary of National Biography, Sir Sidney Lee wrote that Marlowe was killed in a drunken fight and this is still often stated as fact today. The official account came to light only in 1925, when the scholar Leslie Hotson discovered the coroner's report of the inquest on Marlowe's death, held two days later on Friday 1 June 1593, by the Coroner of the Queen's Household, William Danby.For a full transcript, see Peter Farey's Marlowe page (Retrieved 30 April 215). Marlowe had spent all day in a house in Deptford, owned by the widow Eleanor Bull and together with three men: Ingram Frizer, Nicholas Skeres and Robert Poley. All three had been employed by one or other of the Walsinghams. Skeres and Poley had helped snare the conspirators in the Babington plot and Frizer would later describe Thomas Walsingham as his "master" at that time, although his role was probably more that of a financial or business agent, as he was for Walsingham's wife Audrey a few years later.Leslie Hotson, The Death of Christopher Marlowe (1925) p.65Park Honan, Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy (2005) p.325 These witnesses testified that Frizer and Marlowe had argued over payment of the bill (now famously known as the 'Reckoning') exchanging "divers malicious words" while Frizer was sitting at a table between the other two and Marlowe was lying behind him on a couch. Marlowe snatched Frizer's dagger and wounded him on the head. In the ensuing struggle, according to the coroner's report, Marlowe was stabbed above the right eye, killing him instantly. The jury concluded that Frizer acted in self-defence and within a month he was pardoned. Marlowe was buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard of St. Nicholas, Deptford immediately after the inquest, on 1 June 1593.Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Location 30125). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle EditionThe complete text of the inquest report was published by Leslie Hotson in his book, The Death of Christopher Marlowe, in the introduction to which Prof. George Kittredge said "The mystery of Marlowe's death, heretofore involved in a cloud of contradictory gossip and irresponsible guess-work, is now cleared up for good and all on the authority of public records of complete authenticity and gratifying fullness" but this confidence proved fairly short-lived. Hotson had considered the possibility that the witnesses had "concocted a lying account of Marlowe's behaviour, to which they swore at the inquest, and with which they deceived the jury" but came down against that scenario.Hotson (1925) pp.39–40 Others began to suspect that this was indeed the case. Writing to the TLS shortly after the book's publication, Eugénie de Kalb disputed that the struggle and outcome as described were even possible and Samuel A. Tannenbaum insisted the following year that such a wound could not have possibly resulted in instant death, as had been Kalb, Eugénie (May 1925). "The Death of Marlowe", in The Times Literary SupplementTannenbaum, Samuel (1926). The Assassination of Christopher Marlowe, New York, pp.41–42 Even Marlowe's biographer John Bakeless acknowledged that "some scholars have been inclined to question the truthfulness of the coroner's report. There is something queer about the whole episode" and said that Hotson's discovery "raises almost as many questions as it answers".Bakeless, John (1942). The Tragicall History of Christopher Marlowe, p.182 It has also been discovered more recently that the apparent absence of a local county coroner to accompany the Coroner of the Queen's Household would, if noticed, have made the inquest null and void.Honan (2005), p.354One of the main reasons for doubting the truth of the inquest concerns the reliability of Marlowe's companions as witnesses.Nicholl, Charles (2004). "Marlowe, Christopher", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press. online edn, January 2008. Retrieved 24 August 2013. "The authenticity of the inquest is not in doubt, but whether it tells the full truth is another matter. The nature of Marlowe's companions raises questions about their reliability as witnesses." As an agent provocateur for the late Sir Francis Walsingham, Robert Poley was a consummate liar, the "very genius of the Elizabethan underworld" and is on record as saying "I will swear and forswear myself, rather than I will accuse myself to do me any harm".Boas (1953), p.293Nicholl (2002), p.38 The other witness, Nicholas Skeres, had for many years acted as a confidence trickster, drawing young men into the clutches of people in the money-lending racket, including Marlowe's apparent killer, Ingram Frizer, with whom he was engaged in such a swindle.Nicholl (2002), pp.29–30 Despite their being referred to as "generosi" (gentlemen) in the inquest report, the witnesses were professional liars. Some biographers, such as Kuriyama and Downie, take the inquest to be a true account of what occurred but in trying to explain what really happened if the account was not true, others have come up with a variety of murder theories.Kuriyama (2002), p.136Downie, J. A. "Marlowe, facts and fictions", in Downie, J. A. & Parnell, J. T. (2000). Constructing Christopher Marlowe, pp.26–27
  • Jealous of her husband Thomas's relationship with Marlowe, Audrey Walsingham arranged for the playwright to be Kalb (1925)
  • Sir Walter Raleigh arranged the murder, fearing that under torture Marlowe might incriminate him.Tannenbaum (1926)
  • With Skeres the main player, the murder resulted from attempts by the Earl of Essex to use Marlowe to incriminate Sir Walter Raleigh.Nicholl (2002), p.415
  • He was killed on the orders of father and son Lord Burghley and Sir Robert Cecil, who thought that his plays contained Catholic propaganda.Breight, Curtis C. (1996). Surveillance, Militarism and Drama in the Elizabethan Era, p.114
  • He was accidentally killed while Frizer and Skeres were pressuring him to pay back money he owed them.Hammer, Paul E. J. (1996) "A Reckoning Reframed: the 'Murder' of Christopher Marlowe Revisited", in English Literary Renaissance, pp.225–242
  • Marlowe was murdered at the behest of several members of the Privy Council who feared that he might reveal them to be atheists.Trow, M. J. (2001). Who Killed Kit Marlowe? A contract to murder in Elizabethan England, p.250
  • The Queen ordered his assassination because of his subversive atheistic behaviour.Riggs, David (2004). The World of Christopher Marlowe, pp.334–7
  • Frizer murdered him because he envied Marlowe's close relationship with his master Thomas Walsingham and feared the effect that Marlowe's behaviour might have on Walsingham's reputation.Honan (2005), p.348
  • Marlowe's death was faked to save him from trial and execution for subversive atheism.Honan (2005), p.355. "Useful research has been stimulated by the infinitesimally thin possibility that Marlowe did not die when we think he did. ... History holds its doors open."
Since there are only written documents on which to base any conclusions and since it is probable that the most crucial information about his death was never committed to paper, it is unlikely that the full circumstances of Marlowe's death will ever be known.


File:Handwriting-Marlowe-Massacre-1.JPG|right|thumb| A foul sheet from Marlowe's writing of The Massacre at Paris (1593). Reproduced from Folger Shakespeare LibraryFolger Shakespeare LibraryMarlowe was reputed to be an atheist, which held the dangerous implication of being an enemy of God and the state, by association.BOOK, Stanley, Thomas, Thomas Stanley (author), The History of Philosophy 1655–61, quoted in Oxford English Dictionary, 1687, With the rise of public fears concerning The School of Night, or "School of Atheism" in the late 16th century, accusations of atheism were closely associated with disloyalty to the Protestant monarchy of England.BOOK, Riggs, David, The World of Christopher Marlowe, 5 January 2005, Henry Holt and Co., 978-0805077551, 1,weblink 3 November 2015, 294, Some modern historians consider that Marlowe's professed atheism, as with his supposed Catholicism, may have been no more than a sham to further his work as a government spy.BOOK, Riggs, David, The Cambridge Companion to Christopher Marlowe, Cheney, Patrick, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, 2004, 38, 978-0-521-52734-7, Contemporary evidence comes from Marlowe's accuser in Flushing, an informer called Richard Baines. The governor of Flushing had reported that each of the men had "of malice" accused the other of instigating the counterfeiting and of intending to go over to the Catholic "enemy"; such an action was considered atheistic by the Church of England. Following Marlowe's arrest in 1593, Baines submitted to the authorities a "note containing the opinion of one Christopher Marly concerning his damnable judgment of religion, and scorn of God's word".For a full transcript, see Peter Farey's Marlowe page (Retrieved 30 April 2012). Baines attributes to Marlowe a total of eighteen items which "scoff at the pretensions of the Old and New Testament" such as, "Christ was a bastard and his mother dishonest [unchaste]", "the woman of Samaria and her sister were whores and that Christ knew them dishonestly", "St John the Evangelist was bedfellow to Christ and leaned always in his bosom" (cf. John 13:23–25) and "that he used him as the sinners of Sodom".BOOK, Steane, J. B., Introduction to Christopher Marlowe: The Complete Plays, Penguin, 1969, Aylesbury, UK, 978-0-14-043037-0, He also implied that Marlowe had Catholic sympathies. Other passages are merely sceptical in tone: "he persuades men to atheism, willing them not to be afraid of bugbears and hobgoblins". The final paragraph of Baines's document reads:}}Similar examples of Marlowe's statements were given by Thomas Kyd after his imprisonment and possible torture (see above); Kyd and Baines connect Marlowe with the mathematician Thomas Harriot and Sir Walter Raleigh's circle. Another document claimed around that time that "one Marlowe is able to show more sound reasons for Atheism than any divine in England is able to give to prove divinity, and that ... he hath read the Atheist lecture to Sir Walter Raleigh and others".The so-called 'Remembrances' against Richard Cholmeley. For a full transcript, see Peter Farey's Marlowe page. (Retrieved 30 April 2015)File:Faustus-FTP-Poster.jpg|thumb|right|225px|Poster for the WPA Federal Theatre ProjectFederal Theatre ProjectSome critics believe that Marlowe sought to disseminate these views in his work and that he identified with his rebellious and iconoclastic protagonists.Waith, Eugene. The Herculean Hero in Marlowe, Chapman, Shakespeare, and Dryden. Chatto and Windus, London, 1962. The idea is commonplace, though by no means universally accepted. Plays had to be approved by the Master of the Revels before they could be performed and the censorship of publications was under the control of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Presumably these authorities did not consider any of Marlowe's works to be unacceptable other than the Amores.


Marlowe is frequently claimed to have been homosexual. Some scholars argue that the question of whether an Elizabethan was gay or homosexual in a modern sense is anachronistic, claiming that for the Elizabethans, what is often today termed homosexual or bisexual was more likely to be recognised as a sexual act, rather than an exclusive sexual orientation and identity.BOOK, Smith, Bruce R., Homosexual desire in Shakespeare's England, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, March 1995, 74, 978-0-226-76366-8, Other scholars argue that the evidence is inconclusive and that the reports of Marlowe's homosexuality may be rumours produced after his death. Richard Baines reported Marlowe as saying: "all they that love not Tobacco & Boies were fools". David Bevington and Eric Rasmussen describe Baines's evidence as "unreliable testimony" and "These and other testimonials need to be discounted for their exaggeration and for their having been produced under legal circumstances we would regard as a witch-hunt".Doctor Faustus and Other Plays, pp. viii–ixJ.B. Steane, remarked that he considered there to be "no evidence for Marlowe's homosexuality at all". Other scholars point to homosexual themes in Marlowe's writing: in Hero and Leander, Marlowe writes of the male youth Leander, "in his looks were all that men desire" and that when the youth swims to visit Hero at Sestos, the sea god Neptune becomes sexually excited, "[i]magining that Ganymede, displeas'd, [h]ad left the Heavens ... [t]he lusty god embrac'd him, call'd him love ... He watched his arms and, as they opened wide [a]t every stroke, betwixt them would he slide [a]nd steal a kiss, ... And dive into the water, and there pry [u]pon his breast, his thighs, and every limb, ... [a]nd talk of love", while the boy, naive and unaware of Greek love practices, protests, {{"'}}You are deceiv'd, I am no woman, I.' Thereat smil'd Neptune.".BOOK, White, Paul Whitfield, Marlowe, History and Sexuality: New Critical Essays on Christopher Marlowe, AMS Press, New York, 1998, 978-0-404-62335-7, Hero and Leander, 88 (see Project Gutenberg).Hero and Leander, 157–192.Hero and Leander, 192–193. Edward the Second contains the following passage supporting homosexual relationships:}}Marlowe wrote the only play about the life of Edward II up to his time, taking the humanist literary discussion of male sexuality much further than his contemporaries. The play was extremely bold, dealing with a star-crossed love story between Edward II and Piers Gaveston. Though it was common practice at the time to reveal characters as gay to give audiences reason to suspect them as culprits in a crime, Christopher Marlowe's Edward II is portrayed as a sympathetic character.BOOK, Edward the Second,weblink Manchester University Press, 15 October 1995, 9780719030895, Christopher, Marlowe, Charles R., Forker,

Reputation among contemporary writers

For his contemporaries in the literary world, Marlowe was above all an admired and influential artist. Within weeks of his death, George Peele remembered him as "Marley, the Muses' darling"; Michael Drayton noted that he "Had in him those brave translunary things / That the first poets had" and Ben Jonson wrote of "Marlowe's mighty line". Thomas Nashe wrote warmly of his friend, "poor deceased Kit Marlowe". So too did the publisher Edward Blount, in the dedication of Hero and Leander to Sir Thomas Walsingham. Among the few contemporary dramatists to say anything negative about Marlowe was the anonymous author of the Cambridge University play The Return From Parnassus (1598) who wrote, "Pity it is that wit so ill should dwell, / Wit lent from heaven, but vices sent from hell".The most famous tribute to Marlowe was paid by Shakespeare in As You Like It, where he not only quotes a line from Hero and Leander ("Dead Shepherd, now I find thy saw of might, 'Who ever lov'd that lov'd not at first sight?{{'"}}) but also gives to the clown Touchstone the words "When a man's verses cannot be understood, nor a man's good wit seconded with the forward child, understanding, it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room".Peter Alexander ed., William Shakespeare: The Complete Works (London 1962) p. 273 This appears to be a reference to Marlowe's murder which involved a fight over the "reckoning", the bill, as well as to a line in Marlowe's Jew of Malta; "Infinite riches in a little room".Shakespeare was much influenced by Marlowe in his work, as can be seen in the use of Marlovian themes in Antony and Cleopatra, The Merchant of Venice, Richard II and Macbeth (Dido, Jew of Malta, Edward II and Doctor Faustus, respectively). In Hamlet, after meeting with the travelling actors, Hamlet requests the Player perform a speech about the Trojan War, which at 2.2.429–32 has an echo of Marlowe's Dido, Queen of Carthage. In Love's Labour's Lost Shakespeare brings on a character "Marcade" (three syllables) in conscious acknowledgement of Marlowe's character "Mercury", also attending the King of Navarre, in Massacre at Paris. The significance, to those of Shakespeare's audience who had read Hero and Leander, was Marlowe's identification of himself with the god Mercury.BOOK, Wilson, Richard, Richard Wilson (scholar), Mayer, Jean-Christophe, Representing France and the French in early modern English drama, 2008, University of Delaware Press, Newark, DE, 978-0-87413-000-3, 95–97, Worthies away: the scene begins to cloud in Shakespeare's Navarre,

As Shakespeare

An argument has arisen about the notion that Marlowe may have faked his death and then continued to write under the assumed name of William Shakespeare. Orthodox academic consensus rejects alternative candidates for authorship of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets, including Marlowe.Kathman, David (2003), "The Question of Authorship", in Wells, Stanley; Orlin, Lena C., Shakespeare: an Oxford Guide, Oxford University Press, pp. 620–32, {{ISBN|978-0-19-924522-2}}


File:Edward Onslow Ford (1852-1901) - The Muse of Poetry (1891) right, Marlowe Memorial nr Marlowe Theatre, The Friars, Canterbury, UK, October 2012 (8111631429).png|thumb|The Muse of Poetry, part of the Marlowe MemorialMarlowe MemorialA Marlowe Memorial in the form of a bronze sculpture of The Muse of Poetry by Edward Onslow Ford was erected by subscription in Buttermarket, Canterbury in 1891.BOOK, Labour, Life and Literature, 1913, Frederick, Rogers, Smith, Elder & Co, London, 160–167,weblink In July 2002, a memorial window to Marlowe, a gift of the Marlowe Society, was unveiled in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.Christopher Marlowe – Westminster Abbey Controversially, a question mark was added to the generally accepted date of death.JOURNAL, Nigel Reynolds,weblink Marlowe tribute puts question mark over Shakespeare, The Telegraph, 11 July 2002, On 25 October 2011 a letter from Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells was published by The Times newspaper, in which they called on the Dean and Chapter to remove the question mark on the grounds that it "flew in the face of a mass of unimpugnable evidence". In 2012, they renewed this call in their e-book Shakespeare Bites Back, adding that it "denies history" and again the following year in their book Shakespeare Beyond Doubt.Shakespeare Bites Back – free book pp. 21, 22 & 38.{{Harvnb|Edmondson|2013|pp=278, 234.}}

Marlowe in fiction

Marlowe has been used as a character in plays, novels, films and TV-productions.


The dates of composition are approximate.


The play Lust's Dominion was attributed to Marlowe upon its initial publication in 1657, though scholars and critics have almost unanimously rejected the attribution. He may also have written or co-written Arden of Faversham.






Further reading

  • Bevington, David and Eric Rasmussen, Doctor Faustus and Other Plays, OUP, 1998; {{ISBN|0-19-283445-2}}
  • Brooke, Tucker; Charles, Frederick. The Life of Marlowe and "The Tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage." London: Methuen, 1930. (pp. 107, 114, 99, 98)
  • Cornelius R. M. Christopher Marlowe's Use of the Bible. New York : P. Lang, 1984.
  • Downie J. A.; Parnell J. T., eds., Constructing Christopher Marlowe, Cambridge 2000. {{ISBN|0-521-57255-X}}
  • Honan, Park. Christopher Marlowe Poet and Spy. Oxford University Press, 2005 {{ISBN|0-19-818695-9}}
  • Kuriyama, Constance. Christopher Marlowe: A Renaissance Life. Cornell University Press, 2002. {{ISBN|0-8014-3978-7}}
  • Logan, Robert A. Shakespeare's Marlowe: The Influence of Christopher Marlowe on Shakespeare's Artistry. Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate, 2007. {{ISBN|9780754657637}}
  • Marlowe, Christopher. Complete Works. Vol. 3: Edward II., ed. R. Rowland. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994. (pp. xxii–xxiii)
  • Nicholl, Charles. The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe, Vintage, 2002 (revised edition) {{ISBN|0-09-943747-3}}
  • Oz, Avraham, ed. "Marlowe: New Casebook", Houndmills, Basingstoke and London: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2003 {{ISBN|9780333624982}}
  • Parker, John. The Aesthetics of Antichrist: From Christian Drama to Christopher Marlowe. Cornell University Press, 2007. {{ISBN|978-0-8014-4519-4}}
  • Riggs, David. "The World of Christopher Marlowe", Henry Holt and Co., 2005 {{ISBN|0-8050-8036-8}}
  • Shepard, Alan. "Marlowe's Soldiers: Rhetorics of Masculinity in the Age of the Armada", Ashgate, 2002. {{ISBN|0-7546-0229-X}}
  • Sim, James H. Dramatic Uses of Biblical Allusions in Marlowe and Shakespeare, Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1966.
  • Trow M. J. Who Killed Kit Marlowe?, Sutton, 2002; {{ISBN|0-7509-2963-4}}
  • Wraight A. D.; Stern, Virginia F. In Search of Christopher Marlowe: A Pictorial Biography, Macdonald, London 1965

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