Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe

Overview
Christopher Marlowe (baptised
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 26 February 1564; died 30 May 1593) was an English dramatist, poet and translator
Translation
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

 of the Elizabethan era
Elizabethan era
The Elizabethan era was the epoch in English history of Queen Elizabeth I's reign . Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history...

. As the foremost Elizabethan
English Renaissance theatre
English Renaissance theatre, also known as early modern English theatre, refers to the theatre of England, largely based in London, which occurred between the Reformation and the closure of the theatres in 1642...

 tragedian
Tragedy
Tragedy is a form of art based on human suffering that offers its audience pleasure. While most cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, tragedy refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of...

, next to William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

, he is known for his blank verse
Blank verse
Blank verse is poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. It has been described as "probably the most common and influential form that English poetry has taken since the sixteenth century" and Paul Fussell has claimed that "about three-quarters of all English poetry is in blank verse."The first...

, his overreaching protagonist
Protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

s, and his mysterious death.

A warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May 1593. No reason for it was given, 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".
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Unanswered Questions
Quotations

My swelling heart for very anger breaks.

Edward the Second.

What should a priest do with so fair a house?A prison may best beseem his holiness.

Edward the Second.

Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?

Hero and Leander (published 1598). The same is in William Shakespeare, As You Like It. Compare "None ever loved but at first sight they loved", George Chapman, The Blind Beggar of Alexandria.

All they that love not tobacco and boys are fools.

Remark attributed to Marlowe from the testimony of Richard Baines, a government informer, in 1593

Is it not brave to be a king, Techelles?Usumcasane and Theridamas,Is it not passing brave to be a king,And ride in triumph through Persepolis?

Part 1.

And sooner shall the sun fall from his sphereThan Tamburlaine be slain or overcome.

Part 1.

From jigging veins of rhyming mother wits,And such conceits as clownage keeps in pay,We'll lead you to the stately tent of war,Where you shall hear the Scythian TamburlaineThreatening the world with high astounding terms,And scourging kingdoms with his conquering sword.View but his picture in this tragic glass,And then applaud his fortunes as you please.

Part 1.

Where death cuts off the progress of his pompAnd murderous fates throw all his triumphs down.

Part 2.

Well, bark, ye dogs; I'll bridle all your tongues.

Part 2.
Encyclopedia
Christopher Marlowe (baptised
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 26 February 1564; died 30 May 1593) was an English dramatist, poet and translator
Translation
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

 of the Elizabethan era
Elizabethan era
The Elizabethan era was the epoch in English history of Queen Elizabeth I's reign . Historians often depict it as the golden age in English history...

. As the foremost Elizabethan
English Renaissance theatre
English Renaissance theatre, also known as early modern English theatre, refers to the theatre of England, largely based in London, which occurred between the Reformation and the closure of the theatres in 1642...

 tragedian
Tragedy
Tragedy is a form of art based on human suffering that offers its audience pleasure. While most cultures have developed forms that provoke this paradoxical response, tragedy refers to a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role historically in the self-definition of...

, next to William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

, he is known for his blank verse
Blank verse
Blank verse is poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. It has been described as "probably the most common and influential form that English poetry has taken since the sixteenth century" and Paul Fussell has claimed that "about three-quarters of all English poetry is in blank verse."The first...

, his overreaching protagonist
Protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

s, and his mysterious death.

A warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May 1593. No reason for it was given, 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
Privy council
A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a privy council was originally a committee of the monarch's closest advisors to give confidential advice on...

 for questioning. There is no record of their having met that day, however, 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
Ingram Frizer
Ingram Frizer, died August 1627, was an English gentleman and businessman of the late 16th and early 17th centuries who is notable for killing playwright Christopher Marlowe in the home of Eleanor Bull on 30 May 1593...

. Whether the stabbing was connected to his arrest has never been resolved.

Early life


Marlowe was born in Canterbury
Canterbury
Canterbury is a historic English cathedral city, which lies at the heart of the City of Canterbury, a district of Kent in South East England. It lies on the River Stour....

 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. Thus he was just two months older than his contemporary Shakespeare, who was baptised on 26 April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon is a market town and civil parish in south Warwickshire, England. It lies on the River Avon, south east of Birmingham and south west of Warwick. It is the largest and most populous town of the District of Stratford-on-Avon, which uses the term "on" to indicate that it covers...

.

Marlowe attended The King's School
The King's School, Canterbury
The King's School is a British co-educational independent school for both day and boarding pupils in the historic English cathedral city of Canterbury in Kent. It is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and the Eton Group....

 in Canterbury (where a house is now named after him) and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Corpus Christi College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. It is notable as the only college founded by Cambridge townspeople: it was established in 1352 by the Guilds of Corpus Christi and the Blessed Virgin Mary...

, where he studied on a scholarship and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1584. In 1587 the university hesitated to award him his master's degree because of a rumour that he had converted to Roman Catholicism and intended to go to the English college at Rheims to prepare for the priesthood. However, his degree was awarded on schedule when the Privy Council
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom...

 intervened on his behalf, commending him for his "faithful dealing" and "good service" to the Queen
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

. 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
Francis Walsingham
Sir Francis Walsingham was Principal Secretary to Elizabeth I of England from 1573 until 1590, and is popularly remembered as her "spymaster". Walsingham is frequently cited as one of the earliest practitioners of modern intelligence methods both for espionage and for domestic security...

's intelligence service. 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


Of the dramas attributed to Marlowe Dido, Queen of Carthage
Dido, Queen of Carthage
Dido, Queen of Carthage is a short play written by the English playwright Christopher Marlowe, with possible contributions by Thomas Nashe. The story of the play focuses on the classical figure of Dido, the Queen of Carthage...

is believed to have been his first, and performed by the Children of the Chapel
Children of the Chapel
The Children of the Chapel were the boys with unbroken voices, choristers, who formed part of the Chapel Royal, the body of singers and priests serving the spiritual needs of their sovereign wherever they were called upon to do so....

, 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
Thomas Nashe
Thomas Nashe was an English Elizabethan pamphleteer, playwright, poet and satirist. He was the son of the minister William Nashe and his wife Margaret .-Early life:...

.

Marlowe's first play performed on the regular stage in London, in 1587, was Tamburlaine the Great
Tamburlaine (play)
Tamburlaine the Great is the name of a play in two parts by Christopher Marlowe. It is loosely based on the life of the Central Asian emperor, Timur 'the lame'...

, about the conqueror Timur
Timur
Timur , historically known as Tamerlane in English , was a 14th-century conqueror of West, South and Central Asia, and the founder of the Timurid dynasty in Central Asia, and great-great-grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived as the Mughal Empire in India until...

, who rises from shepherd to warrior. It is among the first English plays in blank verse, and, with Thomas Kyd
Thomas Kyd
Thomas Kyd was an English dramatist, the author of The Spanish Tragedy, and one of the most important figures in the development of Elizabethan drama....

's The Spanish Tragedy
The Spanish Tragedy
The Spanish Tragedy, or Hieronimo is Mad Again is an Elizabethan tragedy written by Thomas Kyd between 1582 and 1592. Highly popular and influential in its time, The Spanish Tragedy established a new genre in English theatre, the revenge play or revenge tragedy. Its plot contains several violent...

, generally is considered the beginning of the mature phase of the Elizabethan theatre. Tamburlaine was a success, and was followed with Tamburlaine the Great, Part II.

The two parts of Tamburlaine
Tamburlaine (play)
Tamburlaine the Great is the name of a play in two parts by Christopher Marlowe. It is loosely based on the life of the Central Asian emperor, Timur 'the lame'...

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
    The Jew of Malta
    The Jew of Malta is a play by Christopher Marlowe, probably written in 1589 or 1590. Its plot is an original story of religious conflict, intrigue, and revenge, set against a backdrop of the struggle for supremacy between Spain and the Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean that takes place on the...

    , about a Maltese Jew's barbarous revenge against the city authorities, has a prologue delivered by a character representing Machiavelli
    Niccolò Machiavelli
    Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian historian, philosopher, humanist, and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He is one of the main founders of modern political science. He was a diplomat, political philosopher, playwright, and a civil servant of the Florentine Republic...

    . 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
    Stationers' Register
    The Stationers' Register was a record book maintained by the Stationers' Company of London. The company is a trade guild given a royal charter in 1557 to regulate the various professions associated with the publishing industry, including printers, bookbinders, booksellers, and publishers in England...

     on 17 May 1594, but the earliest surviving printed edition is from 1633.
  • Edward the Second
    Edward II (play)
    Edward II is a Renaissance or Early Modern period play written by Christopher Marlowe. It is one of the earliest English history plays. The full title of the first publication is The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second, King of England, with the Tragical Fall of Proud...

    is an English history play about the deposition of King Edward II
    Edward II of England
    Edward II , called Edward of Caernarfon, was King of England from 1307 until he was deposed by his wife Isabella in January 1327. He was the sixth Plantagenet king, in a line that began with the reign of Henry 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 Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second, King of England, with the Tragical Fall of Proud Mortimer." The play was first acted in 1592 or 1593.
  • The Massacre at Paris
    The Massacre at Paris
    The Massacre at Paris is an Elizabethan play by the English dramatist Christopher Marlowe. It concerns the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre, which took place in Paris in 1572, and the part played by the Duc de Guise in those events....

    is a short and luridly written work, the only surviving text of which was probably a reconstruction from memory
    Memorial reconstruction
    The theory of memorial reconstruction refers to the hypotheses concerning the transcription of 17th century plays from memory by actors who had played parts in them, and the subsequent publication of those transcripts...

     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. It features the silent "English Agent", whom subsequent tradition has identified with Marlowe himself and his connections to the secret service. 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, indeed, it warns Elizabeth I of this possibility in its last scene.
  • The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, based on the German Faustbuch, was the first dramatised version of the Faust
    Faust
    Faust is the protagonist of a classic German legend; a highly successful scholar, but also dissatisfied with his life, and so makes a deal with the devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. Faust's tale is the basis for many literary, artistic, cinematic, and musical...

     legend of a scholar's dealing with the devil. While 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 in order to have his contract annulled at the end of the play. Marlowe's protagonist is instead torn apart by demons and dragged off screaming to hell. Dr Faustus is a textual problem for scholars as it was highly edited (and possibly censored) and rewritten after Marlowe's death. Two versions of the play exist: the 1604 quarto
    Quarto
    Quarto could refer to:* Quarto, a size or format of a book in which four leaves of a book are created from a standard size sheet of paper* For specific information about quarto texts of William Shakespeare's works, see:...

    , also known as the A text, and the 1616 quarto or B text. Many scholars believe that the A text is more representative of Marlowe's original because it contains irregular character names and idiosyncratic spelling: the hallmarks of a text that used the author's handwritten manuscript, or "foul papers
    Foul papers
    Foul papers is a term that refers to an author's working drafts, most often applied in the study of the plays of Shakespeare and other dramatists of English Renaissance drama. Once the composition of a play was finished, a transcript or "fair copy" of the foul papers was prepared, by the author or...

    ", as a major source.


Marlowe's plays were enormously successful, thanks in part, no doubt, to the imposing stage presence of Edward Alleyn
Edward Alleyn
Edward Alleyn was an English actor who was a major figure of the Elizabethan theatre and founder of Dulwich College and Alleyn's School.-Early life:...

. Alleyn was unusually tall for the time, and the haughty roles of Tamburlaine, Faustus, and Barabas were probably written especially for him. Marlowe's plays were the foundation of the repertoire of Alleyn's company, the Admiral's Men
Admiral's Men
The Admiral's Men was a playing company or troupe of actors in the Elizabethan and Stuart eras...

, throughout the 1590s.

Marlowe also wrote the poem Hero and Leander
Hero and Leander (poem)
Hero and Leander is a mythological poem by Christopher Marlowe. After Marlowe's death it was completed by George Chapman. Henry Petowe published an alternate completion to the poem.-Publication:...

(published with a continuation by George Chapman
George Chapman
George Chapman was an English dramatist, translator, and poet. He was a classical scholar, and his work shows the influence of Stoicism. Chapman has been identified as the Rival Poet of Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Minto, and as an anticipator of the Metaphysical Poets...

 in 1598), the popular lyric "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
"The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" is a poem written by the English poet Christopher Marlowe and published in 1599 . In addition to being one of the most well-known love poems in the English language, it is considered one of the earliest examples of the pastoral style of British poetry in the...

", and translations of Ovid
Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

's Amores and the first book of Lucan's Pharsalia
Pharsalia
The Pharsalia is a Roman epic poem by the poet Lucan, telling of the civil war between Julius Caesar and the forces of the Roman Senate led by Pompey the Great...

. In 1599, his translation of Ovid
Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

 was banned and copies publicly burned as part of Archbishop Whitgift
John Whitgift
John Whitgift was the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1583 to his death. Noted for his hospitality, he was somewhat ostentatious in his habits, sometimes visiting Canterbury and other towns attended by a retinue of 800 horsemen...

's crackdown on offensive material.

The legend


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 both fiction and non-fiction from speculating about his activities and character. Marlowe has often been described as a spy, a brawler, a heretic and a homosexual, as well as a "magician", "duellist", "tobacco-user", "counterfeiter" and "rakehell
Rake (character)
A rake, short for rakehell, is a historic term applied to a man who is habituated to immoral conduct, frequently a heartless womanizer. Often a rake was a man who wasted his fortune on gambling, wine, women and song, incurring lavish debts in the process...

". J. A. Downie and Constance Kuriyama have argued against the more lurid speculation, but J.B. Steane
J.B. Steane
John Barry Steane was an English music critic, musicologist, literary scholar and teacher, with a particular interest in singing and the human voice...

 remarked, "it seems absurd to dismiss all of these Elizabethan rumours and accusations as 'the Marlowe myth'".

Spying



Marlowe is often alleged to have been a government spy (Park Honan's 2005 biography even had "Spy" in its title) The author Charles Nicholl
Charles Nicholl (author)
Charles Nicholl is an award-winning English author specializing in works of history, biography, literary detection, and travel. His subjects have included Christopher Marlowe, Arthur Rimbaud, Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Nashe, and most recently William Shakespeare. Besides his literary output,...

 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
Privy council
A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a privy council was originally a committee of the monarch's closest advisors to give confidential advice on...

 ordered Cambridge University to award Marlowe his MA, 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". 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
Buttery (shop)
In the Middle Ages, a buttery was a storeroom for liquor, the name being derived from the Latin and French words for bottle or, to put the word into its simpler form, a butt, that is, a cask. A butler, before he became able to take charge of the ewery, pantry, cellar, and the staff, would be in...

 (dining room) 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.

It has sometimes been theorised that Marlowe was the "Morley" who was tutor to Arbella Stuart
Arbella Stuart
Lady Arbella Stuart was an English Renaissance noblewoman who was for some time considered a possible successor to Queen Elizabeth I on the English throne....

 in 1589. This possibility was first raised in a TLS letter by E. St John Brooks in 1937; in a letter to Notes and Queries
Notes and Queries
Notes and Queries is a long-running quarterly scholarly journal that publishes short articles related to "English language and literature, lexicography, history, and scholarly antiquarianism". Its emphasis is on "the factual rather than the speculative"...

, John Baker has added that only Marlowe could be Arbella's tutor due to the absence of any other known "Morley" from the period with an MA and not otherwise occupied. 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
Thomas Morley
Thomas Morley was an English composer, theorist, editor and organist of the Renaissance, and the foremost member of the English Madrigal School. He was the most famous composer of secular music in Elizabethan England and an organist at St Paul's Cathedral...

) it might indicate that he was a spy, since Arbella, niece of Mary, Queen of Scots, and cousin of James VI of Scotland
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

, later James I of England, was at the time a strong candidate for the succession to Elizabeth's throne.

In 1592 Marlowe was arrested in the town of Flushing
Flushing, Netherlands
Vlissingen is a municipality and a city in the southwestern Netherlands on the former island of Walcheren. With its strategic location between the Scheldt river and the North Sea, Vlissingen has been an important harbour for centuries. It was granted city rights in 1315. In the 17th century...

 in the Netherlands for his alleged involvement in the counterfeiting
Counterfeit money
Counterfeit money is currency that is produced without the legal sanction of the state or government to resemble some official form of currency closely enough that it may be confused for genuine currency. Producing or using counterfeit money is a form of fraud or forgery. Counterfeiting is probably...

 of coins, presumably related to the activities of seditious Catholics. He was sent to be dealt with by the Lord Treasurer (Burghley
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley , KG was an English statesman, the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State and Lord High Treasurer from 1572...

) but no charge or imprisonment resulted. 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
William Stanley (Elizabethan)
Sir William Stanley , son of Sir Rowland Stanley of Hooton , was a member of the Stanley family. He was an officer and a recusant, who served under Elizabeth I of England and is most noted for his surrender of Deventer to the Spanish in 1587.-Early career:Stanley was educated with Dr. Standish at...

 and report back to Burghley.

Arrest and death



In 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 blank verse
Blank verse
Blank verse is poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. It has been described as "probably the most common and influential form that English poetry has taken since the sixteenth century" and Paul Fussell has claimed that "about three-quarters of all English poetry is in blank verse."The first...

, contained allusions to several of Marlowe's plays and was signed, "Tamburlaine". On 11 May the Privy Council
Privy Council of the United Kingdom
Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, usually known simply as the Privy Council, is a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign in the United Kingdom...

 ordered the arrest of those responsible for the libels. The next day, Marlowe's colleague Thomas Kyd
Thomas Kyd
Thomas Kyd was an English dramatist, the author of The Spanish Tragedy, and one of the most important figures in the development of Elizabethan drama....

 was arrested. Kyd's lodgings were searched and a fragment of a heretical
Heresy
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

 tract was found. Kyd asserted that it had belonged to Marlowe, with whom he had been writing "in one chamber" some two years earlier. At that time they had both been working for an aristocratic
Aristocracy (class)
The aristocracy are people considered to be in the highest social class in a society which has or once had a political system of Aristocracy. Aristocrats possess hereditary titles granted by a monarch, which once granted them feudal or legal privileges, or deriving, as in Ancient Greece and India,...

 patron, probably Ferdinando Stanley
Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby
Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby was the son of Henry Stanley, 4th Earl of Derby and Lady Margaret Clifford. According to the will of Henry VIII, his mother was heiress presumptive of Elizabeth I of England from 1578 to her own death in 1596...

, Lord Strange. 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
Thomas Walsingham (literary patron)
Sir Thomas Walsingham was a courtier to Queen Elizabeth I and literary patron to such poets as Thomas Watson, Thomas Nashe, George Chapman and Christopher Marlowe. He was related to Elizabeth's spymaster Francis Walsingham and the employer of Marlowe's murderer Ingram Frizer...

, whose father was a first cousin of the late Sir Francis Walsingham
Francis Walsingham
Sir Francis Walsingham was Principal Secretary to Elizabeth I of England from 1573 until 1590, and is popularly remembered as her "spymaster". Walsingham is frequently cited as one of the earliest practitioners of modern intelligence methods both for espionage and for domestic security...

, Elizabeth's principal secretary
Secretary of State (England)
In the Kingdom of England, the title of Secretary of State came into being near the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I , the usual title before that having been King's Clerk, King's Secretary, or Principal Secretary....

 in the 1580s and a man more deeply involved in state espionage than any other member of the Privy Council. 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". On Wednesday 30 May, Marlowe was killed.

Various accounts of Marlowe's death were current over the next few years. In his Palladis Tamia
Palladis Tamia
Palladis Tamia, subtitled "Wits Treasury", is a 1598 book written by the minister Francis Meres. Meres calls it "A Comparative Discourse of our English Poets, with the Greek, Latin, and Italian Poets", and is important in English literary history as the first critical account of the poems and early...

, published in 1598, Francis Meres
Francis Meres
Francis Meres was an English churchman and author.He was born at Kirton in the Holland division of Lincolnshire in 1565. He was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he received a B.A. in 1587 and an M.A. in 1591. Two years later he was incorporated an M.A. of Oxford...

 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." In 1917, in the Dictionary of National Biography
Dictionary of National Biography
The Dictionary of National Biography is a standard work of reference on notable figures from British history, published from 1885...

, Sir Sidney Lee
Sidney Lee
Sir Sidney Lee was an English biographer and critic.He was born Solomon Lazarus Lee at 12 Keppel Street, Bloomsbury, London and educated at the City of London School and at Balliol College, Oxford, where he graduated in modern history in 1882. In the next year he became assistant-editor of the...

 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
Coroner
A coroner is a government official who* Investigates human deaths* Determines cause of death* Issues death certificates* Maintains death records* Responds to deaths in mass disasters* Identifies unknown dead* Other functions depending on local laws...

's report of the inquest on Marlowe's death, held two days later on Friday 1 June 1593. Marlowe had spent all day in a house in Deptford, owned by the widow Eleanor Bull
Eleanor Bull
Eleanor Bull was an English woman who is known for owning the establishment in which Christopher Marlowe, the Elizabethan playwright and poet, was killed in 1593.-Life:...

, and together with three men: Ingram Frizer
Ingram Frizer
Ingram Frizer, died August 1627, was an English gentleman and businessman of the late 16th and early 17th centuries who is notable for killing playwright Christopher Marlowe in the home of Eleanor Bull on 30 May 1593...

, Nicholas Skeres
Nicholas Skeres
Nicholas Skeres was one of the four men present at the house of Eleanor Bull in Deptford, on the occasion of the death of the famous poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe...

 and Robert Poley
Robert Poley
Robert Poley was an agent employed in the secret service of Queen Elisabeth I, being principally employed by the so-called 'spymaster', Sir Francis Walsingham...

. All three had been employed by one or other of the Walsinghams. Skeres and Poley had helped snare the conspirators in the Babington plot
Babington Plot
The Babington Plot was a Catholic plot in 1586 to assassinate Queen Elizabeth, a Protestant, and put Mary, Queen of Scots, a Catholic, on the English throne. It led to the execution of Mary. The long-term goal was an invasion by the Spanish forces of King Philip II and the Catholic league in...

 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. These witnesses testified that Frizer and Marlowe had argued over 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.

Marlowe's death is alleged by some to be an assassination for the following reasons:
  1. The three men who were in the room with him when he died were all connected both to the state secret service and to the London underworld. Frizer and Skeres also had a long record as loan sharks and con-men, as shown by court records. Bull's house also had "links to the government's spy network".
  2. Their story that they were on a day's pleasure outing to Deptford
    Deptford
    Deptford is a district of south London, England, located on the south bank of the River Thames. It is named after a ford of the River Ravensbourne, and from the mid 16th century to the late 19th was home to Deptford Dockyard, the first of the Royal Navy Dockyards.Deptford and the docks are...

     is alleged to be implausible. In fact, they spent the whole day together. Also, Robert Poley
    Robert Poley
    Robert Poley was an agent employed in the secret service of Queen Elisabeth I, being principally employed by the so-called 'spymaster', Sir Francis Walsingham...

     was carrying urgent and confidential despatches to the Queen, who was at her residence Nonsuch Palace
    Nonsuch Palace
    Nonsuch Palace was a Tudor royal palace, built by Henry VIII in Surrey, England; it stood from 1538 to 1682–3. Its ruins are in Nonsuch Park.- Background :Nonsuch Palace in Surrey was perhaps the grandest of Henry VIII's building projects...

     in Surrey, but instead of delivering them, he spent the day with Marlowe and the other two, and didn't in fact hand them in until well over a week later, on 8 June.
  3. It seems too much of a coincidence that Marlowe's death occurred only a few days after his arrest, apparently for heresy
    Christian heresy
    Christian heresy refers to non-orthodox practices and beliefs that were deemed to be heretical by one or more of the Christian churches. In Western Christianity, the term "heresy" most commonly refers to those beliefs which were declared to be anathema by the Catholic Church prior to the schism of...

    .
  4. The manner of Marlowe's arrest is alleged to suggest causes more tangled than a simple charge of heresy would generally indicate. He was released in spite of prima facie
    Prima facie
    Prima facie is a Latin expression meaning on its first encounter, first blush, or at first sight. The literal translation would be "at first face", from the feminine form of primus and facies , both in the ablative case. It is used in modern legal English to signify that on first examination, a...

    evidence, and even though other accusations about him received within a few days, as described below, implicitly connected Sir Walter Raleigh and the Earl of Northumberland
    Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland
    Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland KG was an English aristocrat. He was a grandee and one of the wealthiest peers of the court of Elizabeth I. Under James I, Henry was a long-term prisoner in the Tower of London. He is known for the circles he moved in as well as for his own achievements...

     with the heresy. Thus, some contend it to be probable that the investigation was meant primarily as a warning to the politicians in the "School of Night", or that it was connected with a power struggle within the Privy Council itself.
  5. The various incidents that hint at a relationship with the Privy Council (see above), and by the fact that his patron was Thomas Walsingham, Sir Francis
    Francis Walsingham
    Sir Francis Walsingham was Principal Secretary to Elizabeth I of England from 1573 until 1590, and is popularly remembered as her "spymaster". Walsingham is frequently cited as one of the earliest practitioners of modern intelligence methods both for espionage and for domestic security...

    second cousin once removed, who had been actively involved in intelligence work.


For these reasons and others, Charles Nicholl (in his book The Reckoning on Marlowe's death) argues there was more to Marlowe's death than emerged at the inquest. There are different theories
Marlovian theory
The Marlovian theory with regard to the Shakespeare authorship question is a fringe theory that holds that the Elizabethan poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe did not die in Deptford on 30 May 1593, as the historical records state, but rather that his death was faked, and that he was the main...

 of some degree of probability. 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 writing at all, it is unlikely that the full circumstances of Marlowe's death will ever be known.

Atheism



Marlowe was reputed to be an atheist, which, at that time, held the dangerous implication of being an enemy of God. Some modern historians, however, consider that his professed atheism, as with his supposed Catholicism, may have been no more than an elaborate and sustained pretence adopted to further his work as a government spy. Contemporary evidence comes from Marlowe's accuser in Flushing
Flushing, Netherlands
Vlissingen is a municipality and a city in the southwestern Netherlands on the former island of Walcheren. With its strategic location between the Scheldt river and the North Sea, Vlissingen has been an important harbour for centuries. It was granted city rights in 1315. In the 17th century...

, 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 Protestants, who constituted the dominant religious faction in England at that time. 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." Baines attributes to Marlowe a total of eighteen items which "scoff at the pretensions of the Old
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 and New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old 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", and, "St John the Evangelist
John the Evangelist
Saint John the Evangelist is the conventional name for the author of the Gospel of John...

 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
Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and later expounded upon throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and Deuterocanonical sources....

". He also implies 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' document reads:

These thinges, with many other shall by good & honest witnes be aproved to be his opinions and Comon Speeches, and that this Marlow doth not only hould them himself, but almost into every Company he Cometh he perswades men to Atheism willing them not to be afeard of bugbeares and hobgoblins, and vtterly scorning both god and his ministers as I Richard Baines will Justify & approue both by mine oth and the testimony of many honest men, and almost al men with whome he hath Conversed any time will testify the same, and as I think all men in Cristianity ought to indevor that the mouth of so dangerous a member may be stopped, he saith likewise that he hath quoted a number of Contrarieties oute of the Scripture which he hath giuen to some great men who in Convenient time shalbe named. When these thinges shalbe Called in question the witnes shalbe produced.


Similar examples of Marlowe's statements were given by Thomas Kyd
Thomas Kyd
Thomas Kyd was an English dramatist, the author of The Spanish Tragedy, and one of the most important figures in the development of Elizabethan drama....

 after his imprisonment and possible torture (see above); both Kyd and Baines connect Marlowe with the mathematician
Mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

 Thomas Harriot
Thomas Harriot
Thomas Harriot was an English astronomer, mathematician, ethnographer, and translator. Some sources give his surname as Harriott or Hariot or Heriot. He is sometimes credited with the introduction of the potato to Great Britain and Ireland...

 and Walter Raleigh
Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh was an English aristocrat, writer, poet, soldier, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England....

's circle. Another document claimed at around the same 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."

Some critics believe that Marlowe sought to disseminate these views in his work and that he identified with his rebellious and iconoclastic protagonists. However, plays had to be approved by the Master of the Revels
Master of the Revels
The Master of the Revels was a position within the English, and later the British, royal household heading the "Revels Office" or "Office of the Revels" that originally had responsibilities for overseeing royal festivities, known as revels, and later also became responsible for stage censorship,...

 before they could be performed, and the censorship of publications was under the control of the Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

. Presumably these authorities did not consider any of Marlowe's works to be unacceptable (apart from the Amores).

Sexuality


Like his contemporary William Shakespeare
Sexuality of William Shakespeare
The sexuality of William Shakespeare has been the subject of recurring debate. It is known that he married Anne Hathaway and they had three children...

, Marlowe is sometimes described today as homosexual. Others argue that the question of whether an Elizabethan was gay or homosexual in a modern sense is anachronistic; 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. Some scholars argue that the evidence is inconclusive and that the reports of Marlowe's homosexuality may simply be exaggerated rumours produced after his death. Richard Baines reported Marlowe as saying: "All they that love not Tobacco and Boys are fools". David Bevington
David Bevington
David Martin Bevington is an American literary scholar. He is Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and in English Language & Literature, Comparative Literature, and the College at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1967, as well as chair of Theatre and Performance Studies...

 and Eric Rasmussen describe Baines's evidence as "unreliable testimony" and make the comment: "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". One critic, J.B. Steane
J.B. Steane
John Barry Steane was an English music critic, musicologist, literary scholar and teacher, with a particular interest in singing and the human voice...

, remarked that he considers there to be "no evidence for Marlowe's homosexuality at all." Other scholars, however, point to homosexual themes in Marlowe's writing: in Hero and Leander
Hero and Leander (poem)
Hero and Leander is a mythological poem by Christopher Marlowe. After Marlowe's death it was completed by George Chapman. Henry Petowe published an alternate completion to the poem.-Publication:...

, 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
Sestos
200px|200px|thumb|The Ancient Map of Gallipoli PeninsulaSestos was an ancient Greek town of the Thracian Chersonese, the modern Gallipoli peninsula in European Turkey. Situated on the Hellespont opposite Abydos, it was the home of Hero in the legend of Hero and Leander, where according to legend...

, the sea god Neptune
Neptune (mythology)
Neptune was the god of water and the sea in Roman mythology and religion. He is analogous with, but not identical to, the Greek god Poseidon. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Neptune was the brother of Jupiter and Pluto, each of them presiding over one of the three realms of the universe,...

 becomes sexually excited, "imagining that Ganymede, displeas'd ... the lusty god embrac'd him, call'd him love ... and steal a kiss ... upon his breast, his thighs, and every limb ... [a]nd talk of love", while the boy, naive and unaware of Greek love practices, said that, "You are deceiv'd, I am no woman, I ... Thereat smil'd Neptune."

Reputation among contemporary writers


Whatever the particular focus of modern critics, biographers and novelists, for his contemporaries in the literary world, Marlowe was above all an admired and influential artist. Within weeks of his death, George Peele
George Peele
George Peele , was an English dramatist.-Life:Peele was christened on 25 July 1556. His father, who appears to have belonged to a Devonshire family, was clerk of Christ's Hospital, and wrote two treatises on bookkeeping...

 remembered him as "Marley, the Muses' darling"; Michael Drayton
Michael Drayton
Michael Drayton was an English poet who came to prominence in the Elizabethan era.-Early life:He was born at Hartshill, near Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England. Almost nothing is known about his early life, beyond the fact that in 1580 he was in the service of Thomas Goodere of Collingham,...

 noted that he "Had in him those brave translunary things / That the first poets had", and Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson
Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems...

 wrote of "Marlowe's mighty line". Thomas Nashe
Thomas Nashe
Thomas Nashe was an English Elizabethan pamphleteer, playwright, poet and satirist. He was the son of the minister William Nashe and his wife Margaret .-Early life:...

 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
Parnassus plays
The Parnassus plays are three dramas produced at St John's College, Cambridge, as part of the college's Christmas entertainments towards the end of the 16th century. They are humorous accounts of the adventures of two students, Philomusus and Studioso. The first play The Pilgrimage to Parnassus is...

(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
As You Like It
As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the folio of 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility...

, where he not only quotes a line from Hero and Leander
Hero and Leander
Hero and Leander is a Byzantine myth, relating the story of Hērō and like "hero" in English), a priestess of Aphrodite who dwelt in a tower in Sestos on the European side of the Dardanelles, and Leander , a young man from Abydos on the opposite side of the strait. Leander fell in love with Hero...

(Dead Shepherd, now I find thy saw of might, "Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?") but also gives to the clown Touchstone
Touchstone (As You Like It)
Touchstone is an interesting fictional character in Shakespeare's play As You Like It. Touchstone is the court fool or jester, portrayed as a wise man with a dry, cynical wit. Throughout the play he comments on the other characters of the play and thus, contributes to a better understanding of the...

 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." 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 heavily influenced by Marlowe in his work, as can be seen in the re-using of Marlovian themes in Antony and Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607. It was first printed in the First Folio of 1623. The plot is based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives and follows the relationship between Cleopatra and Mark Antony...

, The Merchant of Venice
The Merchant of Venice
The Merchant of Venice is a tragic comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1596 and 1598. Though classified as a comedy in the First Folio and sharing certain aspects with Shakespeare's other romantic comedies, the play is perhaps most remembered for its dramatic...

, Richard II
Richard II (play)
King Richard the Second is a history play by William Shakespeare believed to be written in approximately 1595. It is based on the life of King Richard II of England and is the first part of a tetralogy, referred to by some scholars as the Henriad, followed by three plays concerning Richard's...

, and Macbeth
Macbeth
The Tragedy of Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare about a regicide and its aftermath. It is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and is believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607...

(Dido, Jew of Malta, Edward II and Dr Faustus respectively). In Hamlet
Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

, 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
Dido, Queen of Carthage
Dido, Queen of Carthage is a short play written by the English playwright Christopher Marlowe, with possible contributions by Thomas Nashe. The story of the play focuses on the classical figure of Dido, the Queen of Carthage...

. In Love's Labour's Lost
Love's Labour's Lost
Love's Labour's Lost is one of William Shakespeare's early comedies, believed to have been written in the mid-1590s, and first published in 1598.-Title:...

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
Mercury (mythology)
Mercury was a messenger who wore winged sandals, and a god of trade, the son of Maia Maiestas and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is related to the Latin word merx , mercari , and merces...

.

As Shakespeare



Given the murky inconsistencies concerning the account of Marlowe's death, a theory
Marlovian theory
The Marlovian theory with regard to the Shakespeare authorship question is a fringe theory that holds that the Elizabethan poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe did not die in Deptford on 30 May 1593, as the historical records state, but rather that his death was faked, and that he was the main...

 has arisen centred on the notion that Marlowe may have faked his death and then continued to write under the assumed name of William Shakespeare. However, orthodox academic consensus rejects alternative candidates for authorship, including Marlowe.

Plays

  • Dido, Queen of Carthage
    Dido, Queen of Carthage
    Dido, Queen of Carthage is a short play written by the English playwright Christopher Marlowe, with possible contributions by Thomas Nashe. The story of the play focuses on the classical figure of Dido, the Queen of Carthage...

    (c.1586) (possibly co-written with Thomas Nashe
    Thomas Nashe
    Thomas Nashe was an English Elizabethan pamphleteer, playwright, poet and satirist. He was the son of the minister William Nashe and his wife Margaret .-Early life:...

    )
  • Tamburlaine
    Tamburlaine (play)
    Tamburlaine the Great is the name of a play in two parts by Christopher Marlowe. It is loosely based on the life of the Central Asian emperor, Timur 'the lame'...

    , part 1
    (c.1587)
  • Tamburlaine
    Tamburlaine (play)
    Tamburlaine the Great is the name of a play in two parts by Christopher Marlowe. It is loosely based on the life of the Central Asian emperor, Timur 'the lame'...

    , part 2
    (c.1587–1588)
  • The Jew of Malta
    The Jew of Malta
    The Jew of Malta is a play by Christopher Marlowe, probably written in 1589 or 1590. Its plot is an original story of religious conflict, intrigue, and revenge, set against a backdrop of the struggle for supremacy between Spain and the Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean that takes place on the...

    (c.1589)
  • Doctor Faustus
    The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus
    The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, commonly referred to simply as Doctor Faustus, is a play by Christopher Marlowe, based on the Faust story, in which a man sells his soul to the devil for power and knowledge...

    (c.1589, or, c.1593)
  • Edward II
    Edward II (play)
    Edward II is a Renaissance or Early Modern period play written by Christopher Marlowe. It is one of the earliest English history plays. The full title of the first publication is The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second, King of England, with the Tragical Fall of Proud...

    (c.1592)
  • The Massacre at Paris
    The Massacre at Paris
    The Massacre at Paris is an Elizabethan play by the English dramatist Christopher Marlowe. It concerns the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre, which took place in Paris in 1572, and the part played by the Duc de Guise in those events....

    (c.1593)


The play Lust's Dominion
Lust's Dominion
Lust's Dominion, or The Lascivious Queen is an English Renaissance stage play, a tragedy written perhaps around 1600 and first published in 1657, probably written by Thomas Dekker in collaboration with others....

was attributed to Marlowe upon its initial publication in 1657, though scholars and critics have almost unanimously rejected the attribution.

Poetry

  • Translation of Book One of Lucan's Pharsalia
    Pharsalia
    The Pharsalia is a Roman epic poem by the poet Lucan, telling of the civil war between Julius Caesar and the forces of the Roman Senate led by Pompey the Great...

    (date unknown)
  • Translation of Ovid
    Ovid
    Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

    's Elegies (c. 1580s?)
  • "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
    The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
    "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" is a poem written by the English poet Christopher Marlowe and published in 1599 . In addition to being one of the most well-known love poems in the English language, it is considered one of the earliest examples of the pastoral style of British poetry in the...

    " (pre-1593; because it is constantly referred to in his own plays we can presume an early date of mid-1580s)
  • Hero and Leander
    Hero and Leander (poem)
    Hero and Leander is a mythological poem by Christopher Marlowe. After Marlowe's death it was completed by George Chapman. Henry Petowe published an alternate completion to the poem.-Publication:...

    (c. 1593, unfinished; completed by George Chapman
    George Chapman
    George Chapman was an English dramatist, translator, and poet. He was a classical scholar, and his work shows the influence of Stoicism. Chapman has been identified as the Rival Poet of Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Minto, and as an anticipator of the Metaphysical Poets...

    , 1598)

Fictional works about Marlowe

  • Philip Lindsay
    Philip Lindsay
    Philip Lindsay was an Australian writer, who mostly wrote historical novels. He was the son of Norman Lindsay, an Australian artist. He moved to England in the 1930s and most of his novels were written there...

    's One Dagger for Two, fictionalised account of Marlowe's life . 1932 (Novel)
  • Leo Rost's Marlowe
    Marlowe (musical)
    Marlowe is a musical with a book by Leo Rost, lyrics by Rost and Jimmy Horowitz, and music by Horowitz. Despite a claim in the Playbill that "the story of this drama is essentially true and accurate," much of it is a fictionalized account of the life of Elizabethan playwright Christopher...

    , stage musical based on Rost's book. 1981
  • Louise Welsh
    Louise Welsh
    Louise Welsh is an author of short stories and novels, based in Glasgow, Scotland.Welsh studied History at Glasgow University and traded in second-hand books for several years before publishing her first novel....

    's Tamburlaine Must Die
    Tamburlaine Must Die
    Tamburlaine Must Die is a novella written by Louise Welsh, which imagines the last days of Christopher Marlowe's life in 1593. The novella was published in 2004 by Canongate Books...

    , about the last two weeks of Marlowe's life. 2004 (Novel)
  • Anthony Burgess
    Anthony Burgess
    John Burgess Wilson  – who published under the pen name Anthony Burgess – was an English author, poet, playwright, composer, linguist, translator and critic. The dystopian satire A Clockwork Orange is Burgess's most famous novel, though he dismissed it as one of his lesser works...

    ' A Dead Man in Deptford
    A Dead Man in Deptford
    A Dead Man in Deptford was written late in Anthony Burgess's life, and is the last of his novels to be published during his lifetime.It depicts the life and character of Christopher Marlowe, one of the greatest playwrights of the Elizabethan era....

    , fictionalised account of Marlow's death. 1993 (Novel)
  • Peter Whelan
    Peter Whelan
    Peter Whelan is a British playwright.Whelan was born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent, England. His works includes seven plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the first of which was Captain Swing, in 1979...

    's The School of Night
    The School of Night
    The School of Night is a modern name for a group of men centred on Sir Walter Raleigh that was once referred to in 1592 as the "School of Atheism." The group supposedly included poets and scientists such as Christopher Marlowe, George Chapman and Thomas Harriot...

    , about Marlowe's playwriting career after his faked death at Deptford. (Play)

Further reading


  • Brooke, C.F. Tucker. The Life of Marlowe and "The Tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage." London: Methuen, 1930. (pp. 107, 114, 99, 98)
  • Bevington, David and Eric Rasmussen, Doctor Faustus and Other Plays, OUP, 1998; ISBN 0-19-283445-2
  • Burgess, Anthony
    Anthony Burgess
    John Burgess Wilson  – who published under the pen name Anthony Burgess – was an English author, poet, playwright, composer, linguist, translator and critic. The dystopian satire A Clockwork Orange is Burgess's most famous novel, though he dismissed it as one of his lesser works...

    , A Dead Man in Deptford, Carroll & Graf, 2003. (novel about Marlowe based on the version of events in The Reckoning) ISBN 0-7867-1152-3
  • Marlow, Christopher. Complete Works. Vol. 3: Edward II. Ed. R. Rowland. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994. (pp. xxii–xxiii)
  • Downie, J. A. and J. T. Parnell, 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 978-7546-5763-7
  • Nicholl, Charles. The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe, Vintage, 2002 (revised edition) ISBN 0-09-943747-3
  • 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
  • Trow, M. J. Who Killed Kit Marlowe?, Sutton, 2002; ISBN 0-7509-2963-4
  • Ule, Louis. Christopher Marlowe (1564–1607): A Biography, Carlton Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8062-5028-3
  • Welsh, Louise. "Tamburlaine Must Die
    Tamburlaine Must Die
    Tamburlaine Must Die is a novella written by Louise Welsh, which imagines the last days of Christopher Marlowe's life in 1593. The novella was published in 2004 by Canongate Books...

    ", novella based on the build up to Marlowe's death.
  • Wraight, A.D. and Virginia F. Stern, In Search of Christopher Marlowe: A Pictorial Biography, Macdonald, London 1965


External links


  • The Marlowe Society
  • The works of Marlowe at Perseus Project
  • Works by Christopher Marlowe in e-book
  • BBC audio file. In Our Time
    In Our Time (BBC Radio 4)
    In Our Time is a live BBC radio discussion series exploring the history of ideas, presented by Melvyn Bragg since 15 October 1998.. It is one of BBC radio's most successful discussion programmes, acknowledged to have "transformed the landscape for serious ideas at peak listening time"...

    Radio 4 discussion programme on Marlowe and his work
  • http://www.themarlowestudies.org The Marlowe Studies, an online library of books concerning Christopher Marlowe