Christopher Marlowe

Portrait of a 21-year-old, supposedly Christopher Marlowe, 1585. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Christopher Marlowe
Born Baptized 26 February 1564
Canterbury, England
Died May 30 1593(1593-Template:MONTHNUMBER-30) (aged 29)
Deptford, England
Occupation Playwright, poet
Nationality English
Period circa 1586-93
Literary movement English Renaissance theatre
Notable work(s) Hero and Leander, Tragical History of Doctor Faustus

Signature File:Christopher Marlowe Signature.svg

Christopher Marlowe[1] (baptised February 26, 1564 - May 30, 1593) was an English poet, playwright, and translator. The foremost Elizabethan tragedian next to William Shakespeare,[2] he is known for his blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his mysterious death.



Marlowe, son of a shoemaker at Canterbury, where he was born, was educated at the King's School there, and in 1581 went to Cambrige, where he earned a B.A.and M.A. Of his life afterward almost nothing is known. It has been conjectured, partly on account of his familiarity with military matters, that he saw service, probably in the Low Countries. His first play, Tamburlaine, was acted in 1587 or 1588. The story is drawn from the Spanish Life of Timur by Pedro Mexia. Its resounding splendor, not seldom passing into bombast, won for it immediate popularity, and it long held the stage. It was followed in 1604 by Faustus, a great advance upon Tamburlaine in a dramatic sense. The absence of "material horror" in the treatment, so different in this respect from the original legend, has often been remarked upon. Marlowe's handling of the subject was greatly admired by Goethe, who, however, in his own version, makes the motive knowledge, while Mrlowe has power, and the mediæval legend 259 In his next play, The Jew of Malta, Marlowe continues to show an advance in technical skill, but the work is unequal, and the Jew Barabas is to Shylock as a monster to a man. In Edward II, Marlowe rises to his highest display of power, showing a mature self-restraint, and in the whole workmanship he approaches more nearly to Shakespeare than any one else has ever done. Marlowe is now almost certainly believed to have had a large share in the 3 parts of Henry VI, and perhaps also he may have collaborated in Titus Andronicus. Greene, in his Groat's Worth of Wit, written on his deathbed, reproaches him with his evil life and atheistic opinions, and a few days before his hapless death an information was laid against him for blasphemy. The informer was the next year hanged for an outrageous offence, and his witness alone might not be conclusive, but Marlowe's life and opinions, which he made no secret of, were notorious. On the other hand, his friends, Shakespeare, Nashe, Drayton, and Chapman, all make kindly reference to him. To escape the plague which was raging in London in 1593, he was living at Deptford, then a country village, and there in a tavern brawl he received a wound in the head, his own knife being turned against him by a serving man, upon whom he had drawn it. The quarrel was about a girl of the town. The parish record bears the entry, "Christopher Marlowe, slain by ffrancis Archer, the 1 of June 1593." Marlowe is the father of the modern English drama, and the introducer of the modern form of blank verse. In imagination, richness of expression, originality, and general poetic and dramatic power he is inferior to Shakespeare alone among the Elizabethans. In addition to his plays he wrote some short poems (of which the best known is "Come live with me and be my love"), translations from Ovid's Amores and Lucan's Pharsalia, and a glowing paraphrase of Musaeus' Hero and Leander, a poem completed by Chapman.[3]

Family, youth, educationEdit

File:Canterbury - Turm der St. George's Church, in der Marlowe getauft wurde.jpg

Marlowe was the son of John Marlowe a shoemaker, of Canterbury, a member of the shoemakers' and tanners' guild of the town. The father married at St. George's Church, 29 May 1561, Catherine, apparently the daughter of Christopher Arthur, rector of St. Peter's, and died on 26 Januaru 1604-5. The dramatist was the eldest son but 2nd child of the family. 2 sisters are recorded: Ann, wife of John Crauforde, a shoemaker; and Dorothy, wife of Thomas Graddell, a vintner.[4]

The poet was baptised at the church of St. George the Martyr, Canterbury, on 26 February 1563-4. He was educated at the king's school of his native town. The treasurer's accounts between 1678 and 1580 are very defective, but they show that Marlowe, while attending the school, received an exhibition of 1l. for each of the first 3 quarters of 1579.[4]

On 17 March 1580-1 he matriculated as a pensioner of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He is entered in the register as "Marlin," without a christian name — proof, apparently, that he did not come up to Cambridge with a scholarship from his school.[4] Marlowe earned a B.A. in 1583 and M.A. in 1587.[5]

Among the fellows and tutors of his college was Francis Kett, who was burnt for heresy at Norwich in 1589. While a student Marlowe mainly confined himself to the Latin classics, and probably before leaving Cambridge he translated Ovid's Amores into English heroic verse. His rendering, which was not published till after his death, does full justice to the sensuous warmth of the original. He is also credited at the same period with a translation of Coluthus's Rape of Helen, but this is no longer extant (Culler's MSS.)[5]


Of Marlowe's career on leaving the university no definite information is accessible. His freouent introduction of military terms in his plays has led to the suggestion that he saw some military service in the Low Countries. It is more probable that he at once settled in London and devoted himself to literary work. A ballad, purporting to have been written in his later years, entitled "The Atheist's Tragedy," describes him "in his early age" as a player at the Curtain Theatre where he 'brake his leg in one lewd scene,' but the ballad is in all probability a forgery.[5]

Of the dramas attributed to Marlowe Dido, Queen of Carthage is believed to have been his earliest performed by the Children of the Chapel, a company of boy actors, between 1587 and 1593. The play was published in 1594; the title page attributes the play to Marlowe and Thomas Nashe.[6]

At an early date he attached himself as a dramatist to a leading theatrical company — that of the lord admiral (the earl of Nottingham). By that company most of his plays were produced, and he had the advantage of securing Edward Alleyn's services in the title-roles of at least 3 of his chief pieces. Kyd, Nashe, Greene, Chapman, and probably Shakespeare, were at different times personally known to him, but besides the chief men of letters of the day, he lived in close relations with Thomas Walsingham of Chislehurst (1st cousin of the queen's secretary, Sir Francis), and with his son, Sir Thomas,. Sir Walter Raleigh was also, it is clear, on friendly terms with Marlowe.[5]

It cannot have been later than 1587 that Marlowe composed his earliest drama, Tamburlaine, which worked a revolution in English dramatic art. It is only by internal evidence that either the date or Marlowe's responsibility for the piece can be established. It was licensed for publication on 14 August 1590, and was published in the same year, but none of the title-pages of early editions bear an author's name.[5]

With playgoers the piece was immediately very popular. Taylor the Water-poet states that "Tamburlaine perhaps is not altogether so famous in his own country of Tartaria as in England." The title-rule was filled by Alleyn, who wore breeches of crimson velvet, while his coat was copper-laced. A ballad on the plot was licensed to John Danter on 5 November 1594.[7]

Faustus may fairly he regarded as Marlowe's 2nd play. Its date may be referred to 1588. A "Ballad of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, the Great Conjurer," was entered on the Stationers' Registers on 28 Feb, 1588-9. It was doubtless founded on Marlowe's tragedy, and may be identical with The "Ballad of Faustus"[7] in the Roxburghe collection. Henslowe did not produce the play before September 1594, but it was not until that time that be was connected with the lord admiral's company, for which the piece was written, and no inference as to its date is to be drawn from his entry.[8]

The play was again well received. Alleyn assumed the title-role, and 23 performances were given by Henslowe between September 1594 and October 1597. On the last occasion, however, the receipts were "nil." According to Prynne's Histrio-Mastix, 1633, f. 556, on an occasion the devil himself "appeared on the stage at the Belsavage Playhouse in Queen Elizabeth's dayes" while the tragedy was being performed, "the truth of which," Prynne adds, "I have heard from many now alive, who well remember it" (cf Notes and Queries, 2nd series v. 265).[9]

Marlowe's 3rd effort was The Jew of Malta. An incidental reference to the death of the Duke of Guise proves that its date was subsequent to 1588. It was frequently acted under Henslowe's management between 26 Feb. 1591–2 and 21 June 1596, and was revived by him on 19 May 1601. Alleyn, who took the part of Barabas the Jew, is said to have worn an exceptionally large nose.[9]

Edward II, Marlowe's best constructed work, was entered on the Stationers' Registers by William Jones on 6 July 1593.[9]



In 1592 Marlowe was arrested in the town of Flushing 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.[10]

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,"[11] written in blank verse, contained allusions to several of Marlowe's plays and was signed, "Tamburlaine". 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. Kyd's lodgings were searched and a fragment of a heretical tract was found. Kyd asserted that it had belonged to Marlowe, with whom he had been writing "in one chamber" some 2 years earlier.[12] At that time they had both been working for an aristocratic patron, probably Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby, Lord Strange.[13]

The Privy Council apparently knew that Marlowe might be found staying with Thomas Walsingham, whose father was a 1st 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.[14] On 18 May 1593 the council issued "a warrant to Henry Maunder, one of the messengers of Her Majesties Chamber, to repair to the house of Mr. Thomas Wolsingham in Kent, or to anie other place where he shall understand Christopher Marlow to be remayning, and by virtue hereof to apprehend and bring him to the court in his companie, and in case of need to require ayd" (Privy Council MS. Register, 22 Aug. 1592-22 Aug. 1593, p. 374).[15]

Some weeks earlier (19 March) similar proceedings had been taken by the council against Richard Cholmley and Richard Strange; the former is known to have been concerned with Marlowe in disseminating irreligious doctrines (Privy Council Reg. p. 298). Cholmley and Marlowe both escaped arrest at the time.[15]

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".[16] Ten days later, he was stabbed to death by Ingram Frizer. Whether the stabbing was connected to his arrest has never been resolved.[17]

In the register of the parish church of St. Nicholas, Deptford, appears the entry, which is ordinarily transcribed thus: "Christopher Marlow, slain by Francis Archer 1 June 1593."[15]

Francis Meres, in Palladis Tamia, 1598, wrote: "As the poet Lycophron was shot to death by a certain rival of his, so Christopher Marlowe was stabd to death by a bawdy serving-man, a riual of his in his lewde love" (fol. 2S6). William Vaughan, in his Golden Grove, 1600, supplies a somewhat different account, and gives the murderer the name of Ingram: "It so happened that at Detford, a little village about three miles distant from London, as he [i.e. Marlowe] meant to stab with his ponyard one named Ingram that had inuited him thither to a feast and was then playing at tables, hee [i.e. Ingram] quickly perceyving it, so avoyded the thrust, that withall drawing out his dagger for his defence, be stabd this Marlow into the eye, in such sort that, his braynes comming out at the dagger point, he shortly after dyed."

Thomas Beard the puritan told the story more vaguely for purposes of edification in his Theatre of God's Judgments, 1597, p. 148.[15] "It so fell out," Beard wrote, "that in London streets as he [i.e. Marlowe] purposed to stab one, whom he ought a grudge unto, with his dagger — the other party, perceiving so, avoyded the stroke, that withal catching hold of his [i.e. Marlowe's] wrest, he stabbed his [i.e. Marlowe's] owne dagger into his head, in such sort that, notwithstanding all the meanes of surgerie that could bee wrought, he shortly after died thereof." In the 2nd edition of his book (1631) Beard omits the reference to "London streets," which is an obvious error (cf. Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. x. 301).[18]

The official account came to light only in 1925 when Leslie Hotson discovered the coroner's report of the inquest on Marlowe's death, held 2 days later on Friday 1 June 1593.[19] Marlowe had spent all day in a house in Deptford, London, owned by the widow Eleanor Bull, and together with 3 men: Frizer, Nicholas Skeres and Robert Poley. All 3 had been employed by 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,[20] 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.[21] 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 2 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.[6]


As with other writers of the period, little is known about Marlowe. What little 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". J. A. Downie and Constance Kuriyama have argued against the more lurid speculation,[22] but J.B. Steane[23] remarked, "it seems absurd to dismiss all of these Elizabethan rumours and accusations as 'the Marlowe myth'".[24]



Marlowe is often alleged to have been a government spy (Park Honan's 2005 biography even had "Spy" in its title [25]) 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 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".[26] [6]

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 (dining room) accounts indicate he began spending lavishly on food and drink during the periods he was in attendance[27] - more than he could have afforded on his known scholarship income.[6]

In 1592 Marlowe was arrested in the town of Flushing 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.[28] This arrest may have disrupted a spying mission: 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.[29]



Marlowe was reputed to be an atheist, which, at that time, held the dangerous implication of being an enemy of God.[30] 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.[31]

Both Vaughan and Beard describe Marlowe as a blatant atheist, who had written a book against the Trinity, and defamed the character of Jesus Christ. Beard insists that he died with an oath on his lips.[18]

Of revolutionary temperament, he held religious views which outraged all conventional notions of orthodoxy. It is moreover certain that just before his death Marlowe's antinomian attitude had attracted the attention of the authorities, and complaints were made to Sir John Puckering, the lord keeper, of the scandal created on the part of Marlowe and his friends by the free expression of their views.

On 18 May 1593 the privy council issued "a warrant to Henry Maunder, one of the messengers of Her Majesties Chamber, to repair to the house of Mr. Thomas Wolsingham in Kent, or to anie other place where he shall understand Christopher Marlow to be remayning, and by virtue hereof to apprehend and bring him to the court in his companie, and in case of need to require ayd" (Privy Council MS. Register, 22 Aug. 1592-22 Aug. 1593, p. 374).[15]

Some weeks earlier (19 March) similar proceedings had been taken by the council against Richard Cholmley and Richard Strange; the former is known to have been concerned with Marlowe in disseminating irreligious doctrines (Privy Council Reg. p. 298). Cholmley and Marlowe both escaped arrest at the time. The poet reached Deptford within a few days of the issue of the warrant, and there almost immediately met his death.[15]

The council's proceedings against him and his friends were not interrupted by his death. Thomas Baker the antiquary found several papers on the subject among Lord-keeper Puckering's manuscripts, but these are not known to be extant, and their contents can only be learnt from some abstracts made from them by Baker, and now preserved in Harl. MS. 7042. Baker found a document headed "A note delivered on Whitsun eve last of the more horrible and damnable opinions uttered by Christopher Marly, who within three days after came to a sudden and fearful end of his life." Baker states that the note chiefly consisted of repulsive blasphemies ascribed to Marlowe by one Richard Bame or Baine, and that Bame offered to bring forward other witnesses to corroborate his testimony. Thomas Harriot the mathematician, Royden (perhaps Matthew Royden), and Warner were described as Marlowe's chief companions, and Richard Cholmley as their convert. Thomas Kyd , according to Baker, at once wrote to Puckering admitting that he was an associate of Marlowe, but denying that he shared his religious views.[18]

On 29 June following Cholmley was arrested under the warrant issued 2 months earlier, and 1 of the witnesses against him asserted that Marlowe had read an atheistical lecture to Sir Walter Raleigh among others. On 31 March 1593–4 a special commission under Thomas Howard, 3rd viscount Bindon, was ordered by the ecclesiastical com mission court to bold an inquiry at Cerne in Dorset into the charges as they affected Sir Walter Raleigh, his brother Carew Raleigh, 'Mr. Thinne of Wiltshire,' and one Poole. The result seems to have been to remove suspicion from Walter Raleigh, who (it was suggested) was involved merely as the patron of Harriot. The 'note' among the Puckering mentioned by Baker is doubtless identical with that in Harl. MS. 6853, fol. 520, described as "contayninge the opinion of one Christofer Marlye, concernynge his damnable opinions and judgment of Relygion and scorne of God's worde." This document was first printed by Ritson in his Observations on Warton. It is signed "Rychard Barne," and a man of that name was hanged at Tyburn soon afterwards (6 Dec. 1594). Marlowe is credited by his accuser, whose fate excites some suspicions of his credibility withholding extremely heterodox views on religion and morality, some of which are merely fantastic, while others are revolting.[18]

There is no ground for accepting all Bame's charges quite literally. That Marlowe rebelled against the recognised beliefs may be admitted, and the manner of his death suggests that he was no strict liver. But the testimony of Edward Blount the bookseller, writing on behalf of himself and other of Marlowe's friends, sufficiently confutes Game's more serious reflections on his moral character. Blount in 1598, when dedicating Marlowe's Hero and Leander to the poet's patron, Sir Thomas Walsingham, describes him as 'our friend,' and writes of "the impression of the man that hath been dear unto us living an after-life in our memory." A few lines later Blount calls to mind how Walsingham entertained 'the parts of reckoning and worth which he found in him with good countenance and liberal affection.' Again, Nashe, when charged by Harvey in 1593 with abusing Marlowe, indignantly denied the accusation, and showed his regard for Marlowe by completing his Tragedy of Dido. "Poore deceased Kit Marlowe" Nashe wrote in the epistle to the reader in his Christ's Tears over Jerusalem (2nd edit. 1594), and "Kynde Kit Marlowe': appears in verses by "J.M.," dated in 1600 (Halliwell-Phillipps), Life of Shakespeare). Chapman too, whose character was exceptionally high, makes affectionate reference to him in his continuation of Hero and Leander.[18]

Sexual orientationEdit

Like his contemporary William Shakespeare, Marlowe is sometimes described today as homosexual. 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.[32]

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 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".[33] Critic J.B. Steane remarked that he considers there to be "no evidence for Marlowe's homosexuality at all."[24] Other scholars,[34] however, 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"[35] and that when the youth swims to visit Hero at Sestos, the sea god Neptune 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",[36] 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."[37]


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.[38] 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".[39]
  2. Their story that they were on a day's pleasure outing to Deptford is alleged to be implausible. In fact, they spent the whole day together. Also, Robert Poley was carrying urgent and confidential despatches to the Queen, who was at her residence Nonsuch Palace 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.[40]
  3. It seems too much of a coincidence that Marlowe's death occurred only a few days after his arrest, apparently for heresy.(Citation needed)
  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 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 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.[41]
  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 FrancisTemplate:'s 2nd 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 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.[6]

Shakespeare controversyEdit

Main article: Marlovian theory

Given the murky inconsistencies concerning the account of Marlowe's death, a theory has arisen centered on the notion that Marlowe may have faked his death and then continued to write under the assumed name of "William Shakespeare." However, academic consensus rejects alternative candidates for authorship of Shakespeare's plays, including Marlowe.[42]


Marlowe's career as a dramatist lies between the years 1587 and 1593, and the 4 great plays to which reference has been made were Tambnrlaine the Great, an heroic epic (1587, printed in 1590); Dr. Faustus (1588, entered at Stationers' Hall 1601); The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Jew of Malta (dating perhaps from 1589, acted in 1592, printed in 1633); and Edward II (printed 1594).[43]

On comparatively rare occasions did Marlowe do full justice to himself; he lacked humor; he treated female character ineffectively; while his early death prevented his powers from reaching full maturity. But the genius which enabled him in his youth to portray man's intensest yearnings for the impossible — for limitless power in the case of Tamburlaine, for limitless knowledge in that of Faustus, and for limitless wealth in that of Barabas — would have assuredly rendered him in middle age a formidable rival to the greatest of all tragic poets.[18]



The only external contemporary testimony to Marlowe's authorship of the piece is a reference by Gabriel Harvey to Marlowe, under the pseudonym of "Tamburlaine," in 1598. A description of Nashe's squalid garret in the Black Book, 1604, doubtfully ascribed to Middleton, speaks of spiders stalking over Nashe's head, "as if they had been cocooning of Tamburlaine" and Edmond Malone, not very rationally, found here proof that Nashe was at least a part author of the play. Nashe, at the time of the production of Tamburlaine was no friend of Marlowe, although he subsequently knew and respected him, and internal evidence practically gives Marlowe sole credit for the play.[5]

The sonorous verse, the bold portrayal of the highest flight of human ambition, "the high astounding terms" in which the characters expressed themselves, the sudden descents from sublimity into bombast, all identify the piece with the works which Marlowe openly claimed for himself later. He was conscious that in Tamburlaine he was treading a new path. In the prologue he promised to lead his audience away

From jiggling veins of rhyming mother-wits

"And such conceits as clownage keeps in pay[5]

At the same time Marlowe's extravagances readily lent themselves to parody. The ludicrous line in Tamburlaine's address to the captured kings

Holla, ye pampered jades of Asia,

was parodied by Pistol, and was long quoted derisively on the stage and in contemporary literature. Hall, in his Satires, ridicules the stalking steps of Tamburlaine's "great personage." Ben Jonson, in his Discoveries, notes that "the true artificer will not fly from all humanity with the Tamerlanes and Tamer-Chams of the late age, which had nothing in them but the scenical strutting and furious vociferation to warrant them to the ignorant gapers."[7]

Although rhyme was chiefly favoured by earlier dramatists, blank verse had figured on the stage several times since the production of Gorboduc in 1562 (cf. Gascoigne, Jocasta, circa 1568), but Marlowe gave it a new capacity and freed it of those mechanical restraints which had obscured its poetic potentialities. In his hand the sense was not interrupted at the end of each line, the pauses and the force of the accent varied, and the meter was proved capable of responding to the varying phases of human feeling.[7]

The novelty of the metrical experiment was the characteristic of Tamburlaine that mosst impressed Marlowe's contemporary critics. Thomas Nashe held his effort up to ridicule in his preface to Greene's Menaphon, which was probably written in 1587. Nashe writes doubtless with a satiric reference to Marlowe's recent graduation as M.A.: "Idiote artmasters intrude themselves to our eares as the alcumists of eloquence; who (mounted on the stage of arrogance) think to outbrave better pens with the swelling bumbast of a bragging blank verse." A little later Nashe refers to 'the spacious volubility of a drumming decasillabon." Robert Greene — who unfairly sneered at Marlowe in "Menaphon" as a "cobler's eldeste sonne" — soon afterwards, in his Perimedes, 1588, denounced his introduction of blank verse, and, affecting to be shocked by Marlowe's ambitious theme, deprecated endeavours to dare "God out of heaven with that atheist 'Tamborlaine'." In his Mourning Garment Greene again ridiculed "the life of Tomlivolin" (i.e. Tamburlaine).[7]

Marlowe seems to have mainly depended for his knowledge of his hero on Thomas Fortescu's Foreste, 1571, a translation from the Spanish of Pedro Mexia's Silva de Varia Lecion, Seville, 1543. Perondinus's Vita Magni Tamerlanis, Florence, 1651, doubtless gave him suggestions when describing Tamburlaine's person, and he derived hints for his description of Persian effeminacy from Herodotus, Euripides, and Xenopbon (cf. Englische Studien, xvi. 459). The play, although in 2 parts, is really a tragedy in 10 acts. Its full title when published ran: Tamburlaine the Great: Who, from a Scythian Shephearde by his rare and woonderfull Conquests, became a most puissant and mightye Monarque. And (for his tyranny and terrour in Warre) was tearmed, "The Scourge of God"; deuided into two Tragicall Discourses, as they were sundrie times shewed upon Stages in the Citie of London. By the right honorable the Lord Admyrall, his seruauntes. Now first and newlie published. London. Printed by Richard Jhones, 1590, 8vo (Bodleian and Duke of Devonshire's libraries): another 8vo edition, 1593 (Brit. Mus.) The half-title of the Second Part is: The Second Part of the bloody Conquests of mighty Tamburlaine. With his impassionnate fury for the death of his Lady and loue faire Zenocrate; his fourme of exhortation and discipline to his three sons, with the maner of his own death. The 1st part was reissued in 1605, the second in 1606 (for E. White), 4to (Brit. Mus.) A modern edition, by Albrecht Wagner, appeared at Heilbronn in 1885.[7]

About 1650 the play was revived at the Bull Theatre. 30 years later it had passed into obscurity. Charles Saunders, in the preface to his play, Tamerlane, 1681, wrote: "It hath been told me there is a Cockpit play going under the name of "The Scythian Shepherd, or Tamberlaine the Great," which how good it is any one may judge by its obscurity, being a thing not a bookseller in London or scarce the players themselves who acted it formerly, cow'd call to remembrance." In 1686 Sir Francis Fane made Tamerlane the Great the hero of his tragedy, The Sacrifice, and clearly owed something to Marlowe.[7]


WPA poster Christopher Marlowe Faustus

Poster advertising performance of the play Faustus by Christopher Marlowe at Maxine Elliott's Theatre, 109 West 39th St., New York, New York. Facsimile based on poster by the Works Progress Administration Federal Theatre, circa 1935. Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division & Wikimedia Commons.

The just and generous judgment passed by Goethe on the Faustus of his English predecessor in tragic treatment of the same subject is somewhat more than sufficient to counterbalance the slighting or the sneering references to that magnificent poem which might have been expected from the ignorance of Byron or the incompetence of Hallam.[44]

Although a collection of disconnected scenes rather than a drama, and despite its disfigurement by witless interpolations, parts of the play — Faustus's apostrophe to Helen, and his great soliloquy in the presence of death, "an agony and fearful colluctation" — render the tragedy a very great achievement in the range of poetic drama.[8]

The Tragedy of Dr. Faustus was entered on the Stationers' Registers 7 January 1600-1, but the 4to of 1604 is the earliest edition yet discovered. A copy (probably unique) is in the Bodleian Library. The title runs: The Tragicall History of D. Faustus: As it hath beene acted by the Right Honourable the Earl of Nottingham his servaunts. Written by Ch. Marl. London. Printed by V.S. for Thomas Bushell, 1604. 5 years later this edition was reissued practically without alteration. A unique copy is in the town library of Hamburg, and has the title: The Tragicall History of the Horrible Life and Death of Doctor Faustus. Written by Ch. Marl. Imprinted at London by G.E. for John Wright, 1609, 4to. A reissue dated 1611 belonged to Heber (Heber, Catalogue, No. 3770). A 4th 4to, which contains some scenes wholly rewritten, and others printed for the first time, was published in 1616 as The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus. Written by Ch. Marl. London. Printed for John Wright, 1616. Other quartos, agreeing in the main with that of 1616, appeared in 1619, 1620, 1624, 1631, and, "with several new scenes," 1603 (very corrupt). Careful modern editions are by Wilhelm Wagner, London (1877 and 1885) by Dr. A.W. Ward, Oxford (1878 and 1887), and by H. Breymann, Heilbronn, 1889.[8]

The relations between the 2 texts of 1604 and 1616 present numerous points of difficulty. Neither seems to represent the author's final revision. In a very few passages the later quarto presents a text of which the earlier seems to supply the author's revised and improved version. In other passages the readings of 1616 seem superior to those of 1604. At the same time each edition contains comic scenes and other feeble interpolations for which Marlowe can scarcely have been responsible: nor is it satisfactory to ascribe them, with Mr. Fleay, to Dekker. In 1662 Henslowe paid William Bird and Samuel Rowley 4 l. for making additions to Faustus, and, as far as the dates or internal evidences go, either quarto may with equal reasonableness be credited with contributions by Bird and Rowley.[8]

The 2 editions were certainly printed from 2 different playhouse copies, each of which imperfectly reproduced different parts of the author's final corrections. Some of the scenes which only figure in the 1616 quarto were certainly extant more than 20 years earlier. A line in one of the interpolated scenes of 1616 was imitated in the Taming of A Shrew, published as early as 1594, while reference was made to an incident in another added scene some 3 years later in The Merry Wives of Windsor (iv. 5.71). In the edition published at Heilhronn in 1889 the quartos of 1604 and 1616 are printed on opposite pages.[8]

The 1st connected account of the story of Faust appeared at Frankfort-on-the-Maine in 1587 under the title Historia Ton. D. Jobann Fausten dem weitbeschreyten Zauberer und Schwartzkunstler. The earliest English translation extant, The Historie of the damnable Life and deserved Death of Dr. John Faustus, by P.F., Gent. is dated in 1592, but the title-page describes it as "newly imprinted," a proof that an earlier edition had appeared. From that earlier edition Marlowe doubtless derived his knowledge of the legend (cf. Th. Delius, Marlowe's Paustus und seine Quelle, Bielefeld, 1881: see "Marlowe's Faust," by Duntzer in Anglia, i. 44, and by H. Bretmann, Englische Studien, v. 56).[8]

A phrase in the famous description of Helen is borrowed by Shakespeare in Troilus and Cressida, and scene v. is closely imitated in Barnabe Barnes's Devil's Charter, 1607, where the hero, Alexander Borgia, undergoes some of Faustus's experiences (cf. Herford, Lit. Relations of England and Germany, pp. 197 sq.) Dekker's Olde Fortunatus also shows signs of Faustus's influence. "Of all that Marlow hath written to the stage his 'Dr. Faustus' hath made the greatest noise," wrote Phillips in his Theatrum Poetarum, 1675. In 1684 appeared Mountfort's Life and Death of Dr. Faust, in which Marlowe's tragedy was converted into a pantomime, and in that uncomplimentary form obtained a new lease of popularity (cf. Anglia, vii. 341 sq.)[9]

Abroad Marlowe's work was equally well appreciated. English companies of actors performed it on their continental tours in the 17th century. It was acted at Grätz in 1608, and at Dresden in 1626, and very frequently at Vienna (cf. Meissner, Die englischen Comodianten ... in Oesterreich). Goethe admired it, and had an intention of translating it before he designed his own play on the same theme. W. Muller rendered it into German in 1858, and Francois Victor Hugo translated it into French in 1668. A Dutch version was published at Groningen in 1887.[9]

The Jew of MaltaEdit

It is now a commonplace of criticism to observe and regret the decline of power and interest after the opening acts of The Jew of Malta.[43] The opening scenes are in Marlowe's best vein, and are full of dramatic energy; in the later acts there is a rapid descent into "gratuitous, unprovoked, and incredible atrocities," hardly tolerable as caricature, and it is possible that the only accessible text presents a draft of Marlowe's work defaced by playhouse hacks.[9]

The figure of the hero before it degenerates into caricature is as nnely touched as the poetic execution is excellent; and the rude and rapid sketches of the minor characters show at least some vigour and vivacity of touch.[43]

In 1633 it was again acted in London, both at court and at the Cockpit. On 24 April 1818 Kean revived at Drury Lane a version altered by S. Penley, and played Barabas himself; it ran for 12 nights (Genest, Hist. Account, viii. 645).[9]

It was equally popular abroad. In 1607 English actors produced it while on continental tours at Passau, and in 1608 at Grätz. In an early seventeenth-century manuscript, now at Vienna, there is a German comedy based partly on Marlowe's play and partly on Shakespeare's 'Merchant of Venice.' This is printed in Meissner's 'Die englischen Comildianten,' pp. 180 sq.[9]

A lost ballad, doubtless based on the play, was entered on the Stationers' Registers by John Danter on 16 May 1594. Next day the tragedy was itself entered there by Nicholas Ling and Thomas Millington, but it was not published till 1683. when it was edited by Thomas Heywood. The full title runs: The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Jew of Malta. As it was played before the King and Qveene in Her Majesties Theatre at White Hall, by her Majesties servants at the Cock-pit. Written by Christopher Marlo. London. Printed by I. B. for Nicholas Vavasour, 1633 4to. It was included in Dodsley's collection, 1780; it was separately edited by W. Oxberry, 1818; and was translated by E. von Buelow into German in 1831, pt. i. A Dutch translation was issued at Leyden as early as 1645.[9]

As in Tamburlaine, Marlowe here again sought his plot in oriental history, although no direct source is known. He embodied hearsay versions of the siege of Malta by the Turks under Selim, son of the sultan Soliman, in 1565, and of another attack on the island by the Spaniards (cf. Jurien de la Graviere, Les Chevaliers de Malte et la Marine de Philippe II, Paris, 1887). Barabas resembles a contemporary historical personage, Joan Miquez (b. 1520), afterwards known as Josef Nossi, a Portuguese Jew, who, after sojourning in Antwerp and Venice, settled in Constantinople, exerted much influence over the sultan, became Duke of Naxos and the Cyclades (1569), and took part in the siege of Cyprus in 1570 against the Venetians (cf. Folieta, De Sacro Fœdere in Selimum, Geneva, 1587). Marlowe also knew the chapter on Malta in Nicholas Nicholay's Navigations ... into Turkie, translated by T. Washington the younger, 1586 (cf. "Die Quelle von Marlowe's 'Jew of Malta'," by Leon Kellner, in Englische Studien, x. 80–110).[9]

Edward IIEdit

Edward II was Marlowe's chief incursion into the English historical drama, and by the improvement manifest in dramatic construction it may be ascribed to his latest year. It is the best constructed of Marlowe's pieces.[9] In Edward II the interest rises and the execution improves as visibly and as greatly with the course of the advancing story as they decline in The Jew of Malta.[43]

The scene of the king's deposition at Kenilworth is almost as much finer in tragic effect and poetic quality as it is shorter and less elaborate than the corresponding scene in Shakespeare's Richard II. The terror of the death-scene undoubtedly rises into horror; but this horror is with skilful simplicity of treatment preserved from passing into disgust. In pure poetry, in sublime and splendid imagination, this tragedy is excelled by Doctor Faustus; in dramatic power and positive impression of natural effect it is certainly the masterpiece of Marlowe.[43]

Marlowe mainly borrowed his information from Holinshed and had occasional reference to Stow, but in his spirited characterisation of Gaveston and Edward II, Mortimer and Edmund, earl of Kent, he owes little to the chroniclers.[9]

"The reluctant pangs of abdicating royalty in Edward," wrote Charles Lamb, "furnished hints which Shakespeare scarcely improved in his Richard II; and the death scene of Marlowe's king moves pity and terror beyond any scene, ancient or modern, with which I am acquainted."[9]

A unique copy of an edition of 1594 is in the public library of Cassel. The earliest edition known in this country was published in 1598,[9] as The Troublesome Raigne and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second, King of England; with the Tragiciall Fall of proud Mortimer; And also the Life and Death of Peirs Ganeston, the great Earle of Cornewall, and mighty Favorite of King Edward the Second, as it was publiquely acted by the Right Honourable the Earle of Pembrooke his servauntes. Written by Chri. Marlow, Gent. Imprinted at London by Richard Bradocke, for William Jones, 1598, 4to (British Museum and Bodleian).[45]

A manuscript cony of the 1594 edition, in a 17th-century hand, is in the Dyce Library. The text is in a far more satisfactory state than in the case of any other of Marlowe's works. Other early editions are dated 1612 and 1622. It was translated into German by Von Buelow in 1831. There are recent editions by Mr. F.O. Fleay (1877) and by Mr. O. W. Tancock, Oxford, 1879 and 1887.[45]

Other playsEdit

In 2 dramatic pieces — of far inferior calibre — Marlowe was also concerned. The Massacre at Paris,' which concludes with the assassination of Henry III, 2 August 1589, appears to have been first acted 3 Jan. 1592-3 (Henslowe, Diary). It reproduces much recent French history and seems to have been largely based on contemporary reports. The text of the printed piece is very corrupt. A fragment of a contemporary manuscript copy (sc. 19) printed by Mr. Collier is extant among the Halliwell-Phillipps papers, and attests, as far as it goes, the injury done to the piece while going through the press. The soliloquy of the Duke of Guise in sc. 2 alone is worthy of notice.[45]

The only early edition is without date. It was probably published in 1600. The title runs: The Massacre at Paris: with the death of the Duke of Guise. As it was plaide by the right honourable the Lord High Admirall his Serrante. Written by Christopher Marlow. At London Printed by E A. for Edward White.[45]

There are copies in the British Museum, the Bodleian, and the Pepysian libraries.[45]

The Tragedy of Dido, published in 1594, is described as the joint work of Marlowe "and Thomas Nash Gent." Unlike Marlowe's earlier efforts, it is overlaid with quaint conceits and has none of his tragic intensity. Æneas's recital to Dido of the story of the fall of Troy is in the baldest and most pedestrian verse, and was undoubtedly parodied bv Shekespeare in the play-scene in Hamlet. The piece must have been a very juvenile effort, awkwardly revised and completed by Nashe after Marlowe's death. The title of the editio princep runs: The Tragedie of Dido Queene of Carthage: Played by the Children of her Majesties Chappell. Written by Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Nash, Gent. At London, Printed by the Widdowe Orwin for Thomas Woodcocke, 1594. Copies are in the Bodleian, Bridgwater House, and Devonshire House libraries.[45]

Several other plays have been assigned to Marlowe on internal evidence, but critics are much divided as to the extent of his work outside the pieces already specified. Like his friends Kyd and Shakespeare, he doubtless refurbished some old plays and collaborated in some new ones, but he had imitators, from whom he is not, except in his most exalted moments, always distinguishable.[45]

Among the plays destroyed by Warburton's cook was The Maiden's Holiday, a comedy assigned to Day and Marlowe. Day belonged to a slightly later generation, and there is no evidence of Marlowe's association with a comedy.[46]

Marlowe and ShakespeareEdit

The most substantial proof of Marlowe's greatness was the homage paid him by Shakespeare. In As you like it (iii. 5, 80) Shakespeare, quoting from Marlowe's Hero and Leander, apostrophised Marlowe In the lines,

Dead shepherd, now I find thy saw of might,
'Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?

This passage, coupled with the inferences already drawn respecting the 2 men's joint responsibility for Parts II. and III. of Henry VI, justifies the theory that they were personally acquainted. But the powerful influence exerted by Marlowe on Shakespeare's literary work is more interesting than their private relations with each other.[18]

All the blank verse in Shakespeare's early plays bears the stamp of Marlowe's inspiration. In Richard II and the The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare chose subjects of which Marlowe had already treated in Edward II and the Jew of Malta, and although the younger dramatist was more efficient in the handling of his plots than the elder, Shakespeare's direct indebtedness to Marlowe in either piece is unmistakable.[18]

Richard III, again, is closely modelled on Marlowe. "But for him," says Swinburne, "this play could never have been written." In its fiery passion, singleness of purpose, and abundance of inflated rhetoric it resembles Tamburlaine (cf. Swinburne, Study of Shakespeare, 43-44). Shakespeare was also conscious of the elder dramatist's extravagances, and at times parodied them, as in Pistol or in the players in Hamlet. But his endeavours to emulate Marlowe's great qualities proves his keen appreciation of them.[18]

Shakespeare's earlier style often closely resembled his, and it is not at all times possible to distinguish the 2 with certainty. A Taming of a Shrew (1694), the precursor of Shakespeare's comedy, has been frequently assigned to Marlowe. It contains many passages literally borrowed from Tamburlaine or Faustus, but it is altogether unlikely either that Marlowe would have literally borrowed from himself or that he could have sufficiently surmounted his deficiency in humor to produce so humorous a play.[9]

The Trublesome Raign of Kinge John (1591), "a poor, spiritless chronicle play," may in its concluding portions be by Marlowe, but many of his contemporaries could have done as well.[9] Internal evidence gives Marlowe some claim to be regarded as part author of Titus Andronicus, with which Shakespeare was very slightly, if at all, concerned. Aaron might well have been drawn by the creator of the Jew of Malta, but the theory that Kyd was largely responsible for the piece deserves consideration.[45]

The 3 parts of Henry VI, which figure in the 1623 folio of Shakespeare's works, although they were apparently written in 1592, present features of great difficulty. The 1st part shows very slight, if any, traces of Marlowe's co-operation. But in the 2nd and 3rd plays passages appear in which his hand can be distinctly traced. Each of these plays exists in another shape. Part II. is an improved and much altered version of The First Part of the Contention betwixt the two Famous Houses of Vork and Lancaster, 1594, 4to, and Part III. bears similar relation to The True Tragedie of Richard, Duke of Yorke 1595, 4to, although the divergences between the 2 are less extensive. There are many internal proofs that Marlowe worked on the earlier pieces in conjunction with one or more coadjutors who have not been satisfactorily identified. But that admission does not exclude the theory that he was afterwards associated with Shakespeare in converting these imperfect drafts into the form in which they were admitted to the 1623 folio (cf. Fleay, Life of Shakeapeare, pp. 235 sq.; Transactions of New Shakspere Soc. pt. ii. 1876, by Miss Jane Lee; Swinburne, Study of Shakespeare, pp. 51 sq.)[45]

Evidence of style also gives Marlowe some pretension to a share in Edward III, 1596, 4to, a play of very unequal merit, but including at least one scene which has been doubtfully assigned to Shakespeare.[46]


3 verse renderings from the classics also came from Marlowe's pen. His translation of Ovid's Amores was thrice printed in 12mo, without date, at 'Middleborough,' with the epigrams of Sir John Davies Whether 'Middleborough' is to be taken literally is questionable. The earliest edition, Epigrammes and Elegies, appeared about 1597, and is now very rare. A copy at Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire, the property of Sir Charles Edmonds, has been reproduced in facsimile by Charles Edmonds, who assigns it to the London press of W. Jaggard, the printer of the Passionate Pilgrim. The work was condemned to the flames by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London in June 1599, on the ground of its licentiousness (Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. xii. 436).[46]

Marlowe's chief effort in narrative verse was his unfinished paraphrase of Musæus's Hero and Leander. He completed 2 "sestiads," which were entered by John Wolf as "an amorous poem" on the Stationers' Registers on 28 Sept. 1593, and were published in 1598 by Edward Blount at the press of Adam Islip. This was dedicated by Blount to Sir Thomas Walsingham. A copy is in Mr. Christie-Millet's library at Britwell.[46]

George Chapman finished the poem, and in the same year 2 further editions of the work appeared from the press of Felix Kingston with the 4 sestiads added by Chapman. Copies of both these later editions are at Lamport. Other editions of the complete poem were issued in 1606 (Brit. Mus.) 1643, 1617 (Huth Library), 1629, and 1637. A copy of the 1629 edition, formerly in Heber's library, contains in 17th-century handwriting Marlowe's "Elegy on Manhood" and some authentic notes respecting his life (see Heber's Cat. 1834, iv. No. 1415).[46]

The poem is throughout in rhymed, and Marlowe's language is is peculiarly "clear, rich, and fervent."[46] Hero and Leander stands alone in its age, and far ahead of the work of any possible competitor between the death of Spenser and the dawn of Milton. In clear mastery of narrative and presentation, in melodious ease and simplicity of strength, it is not less pre-eminent than in the adorable beauty and impeccable perfection of separate lines or passages. It is doubtful whether the heroic couplet has ever been more finely handled.[43]

Its popularity was as great as any of Marlowe's plays. According to Nashe he was here inspired by "a diviner muse" than Musæus ("Lenten Stuffe," in Nashe, Works). Francis Meres, in his Palladia Tamia (1598), declared that "Musæus, who wrote the loves of Hero and Leander ... hath in England two excellent poets, imitators in the same argument and subject, Christopher Marlow and George Chapman." Ben Jonson quotes from it in Every Man in his Humour, and is reported by a humble imitator of Marlowe, William Bosworth, author of Chast and Lost Lovers (1651), to have been "often heard to say" that its "mighty lines ... were fitter for admiration than for parallel." Henry Petowe published in 1598 The Second Part of Hero and Leander. John Taylor the Water-poet claims to have sung verses from it while sculling on the Thames. Middleton in A Mad World, my Masters, described it and Venus and Adonis as "two luscious marrow-bone pies for a young married wife."[46]

An edition by S.W. Singer appeared in 1821, and it was reprinted in Brydges's Restituta (1814).[46]

The First Book of Lucan's Pharsalia, entered by John Wolf on the Stationers' Registers on 28 Sept. 1593, was issued in 1600, 4to. It is in epic blank verse, and although the lines lack the variety of pause which was achieved by Marlowe's greatest successors, the author displays sufficient mastery of the meter to warrant its attribution to his later years. The volume has a dedication signed by "Thom. Thorpe," the publisher of Shakespeare's Sonnets, and addressed to Blount. It was reprinted by Percy in his specimens of blank verse before Milton.[46]

One of the most faultless lyrics and one of the loveliest fragments in the whole range of descriptive and fanciful poetry would have secured a place for Marlowe among the memorable men of his epoch, even if his plays had perished with himself. His "Passionate Shepherd to His Love" remains ever since unrivalled in its waya way of pure fancy and radiant melody without break or lapse.[43]

"The Passionate Shepherd," or "Come live with me and be my love," was 1st printed, without the 4th or 6th stanzas and with the 1st stanza only of the "Answer,"[46] in the Passionate Pilgrim, 1699, a collection of verse by various hands, although the title-page bore the sole name of Shakespeare. In Englands Helicon the lyric appeared in its complete form, with the signature "C. Marlowe" beneath it; the well-known answer in 6 stanzas which follows immediately is signed "Ignoto" and is ascribed to Sir Walter Raleigh. Marlowe's lyric caught the popular ear immediately. Sir Hugh Evans quotes it in The Merry Wives of Windsor (iii. i.); Donne imitated it in his poem called "The Bait"; Nicholas Breton referred to it as "the old song" in 1637; and Isaak Walton makes Maudlin in the Complete Angler sing to Piscator "that smooth song which was made by Kit Marlowe," as well as "The Nymph's Reply" "made by Sir Walter Raleigh in his younger days." Walton supplies an additional stanza to each lyric. Both were issued together as a broadside about 1650 (Roxburghe Ballads, i. 205), and they were included in Percy's Relique (cf. ed. 1876, i. 220 sq.)[15]

A beautiful fragment by Marlowe, "I walked along a stream for pureness rare," figures in England's Parnassus, 1600.[15] The untitled fragment has been very closely rivalled, perhaps very happily imitated, but only by the greatest lyric poet of England - by Shelley alone.[43]

Critical introductionEdit

by Andrew Cecil Bradley

Marlowe has a claim on our affection which everyone is ready to acknowledge; he died young. We think of him along with Chatterton and Burns, with Byron, Shelley, and Keats. And this is a fact of some importance for the estimate of his life and genius. His poetical career lasted only 6 or 7 years, and he did not outlive his "hot days, when the mad blood’s stirring."

An old ballad tells us that he acted at the Curtain theatre in Shoreditch and "brake his leg in one rude scene, When in his early age." If there is any truth in the last statement, we may suppose that Marlowe gave up acting and confined himself to authorship. He seems to have depended for his livelihood on his connection with the stage; and probably, like many of his fellows and friends, he lived in a free and even reckless way.

A more unusual characteristic of Marlowe’s was his "atheism." No reliance can be placed on the details recorded on this subject; but it was apparently only his death that prevented judicial proceedings being taken against him on account of his opinions. The note on which these proceedings would have been founded was the work of one Bame, who thought that "all men in christianitei ought to endeavour that the mouth of so dangerous a member may be stopped," and was hanged at Tyburn about eighteen months afterwards. But other testimony points in the same direction; and a celebrated passage in Greene’s Groatsworth of Wit would lead us to suppose that Marlowe was given to blatant profanities. Whatever his offences may have been — and there is nothing to make us think he was a bad-hearted man — he had no time to make men forget them. He was not thirty when he met his death.

As Marlowe's purely poetical works give but a 1-sided idea of his genius, and as his importance in the history of literature depends mainly on his dramatic writings, some general reference must be made to them. Even if they had no enduring merits of their own, their effect upon Shakespeare — an effect which, to say nothing of Henry VI, is most clearly visible in Richard III — and their influence on the drama would preserve them from neglect. The nature of this influence may be seen by a glance at Marlowe’s first play. On the one hand it stands at the opposite pole to the classic form of the drama as it is found in Seneca, a form which had been adopted in Gorboduc, and which some of the more learned writers attempted to nationalise. There is no Chorus in Tamburlaine or in any of Marlowe’s plays except Dr. Faustus; and the action takes place on the stage instead of being merely reported. On the other hand, in this, the first play in blank verse which was publicly acted, he called the audience

‘From jigging veins of rhyming mother-wits,
And such conceits as clownage keeps in pay,’

and fixed the metre of his drama for ever as the metre of English tragedy. And, though neither here nor in Dr. Faustus could he yet afford to cast off all the conceits of clownage, he was in effect beginning to substitute works of art for the formless popular representations of the day. Doubtless it was only a beginning.

The 2 parts of Tamburlaine are not great tragedies. They are full of mere horror and glare. Of the essence of drama, a sustained and developed action, there is as yet very little; and what action there is proceeds almost entirely from the rising passion of a single character. Nor in the conception of this character has Marlowe quite freed himself from the defect of the popular plays, in which, naturally enough, personified virtues and vices often took the place of men. Still, if there is a touch of this defect in Tamburlaine, as in the Jew of Malta, it is no more than a touch. The ruling passion is conceived with an intensity, and portrayed with a sweep of imagination unknown before; a requisite for the drama hardly less important than the faculty of construction is attained, and the way is opened for those creations which are lifted above the common and yet are living flesh and blood.

It is the same with the language. For the buffoonery he partly displaced Marlowe substitutes a swelling diction, "high astounding terms," and some outrageous bombast, such as that which Shakespeare reproduced and put into the mouth of Pistol. But, laugh as we will, in this first of Marlowe’s plays there is that incommunicable gift which means almost everything, style; a manner perfectly individual, and yet, at its best, free from eccentricity. The ‘mighty line’ of which Jonson spoke, and a pleasure, equal to Milton’s, in resounding proper names, meet us in the very first scene; and in not a few passages passion, instead of vociferating, finds its natural expression, and we hear the fully-formed style, which in Marlowe’s best writing is, to use his own words,

‘Like his desire, lift upward and divine.’

"Lift upward" Marlowe’s style was at first, and so it remained. It degenerates into violence, but never into softness. If it falters, the cause is not doubt or languor, but haste and want of care. It has the energy of youth; and a living poet has described this among its other qualities when he speaks of Marlowe as singing

‘With mouth of gold, and morning in his eyes.’

As a dramatic instrument it developed with his growth and acquired variety. The stately monotone of Tamburlaine, in which the pause falls almost regularly at the end of the lines, gives place in Edward II to rhythms less suited to pure poetry, but far more rapid and flexible. In Dr. Faustus the great address to Helen is as different in metrical effect as it is in spirit from the last scene, where the words seem, like Faustus’ heart, to "pant and quiver." Even in the Massacre at Paris, the worst of his plays, the style becomes unmistakeable in such passages as this:

  ‘Give me a look, that, when I bend the brows,
Pale Death may walk in furrows of my face;
A hand that with a grasp may gripe the world;
An ear to hear what my detractors say;
A royal seat, a sceptre, and a crown;
That those that do behold them may become
As men that stand and gaze against the sun.’

The expression "lift upward" applies also, in a sense, to most of the chief characters in the plays. Whatever else they may lack, they know nothing of half-heartedness or irresolution. A volcanic self-assertion, a complete absorption in some one desire, is their characteristic. That in creating such characters Marlowe was working in dark places, and that he develops them with all his energy, is certain. But that in so doing he shows (to refer to a current notion of him) a "hunger and thirst after unrighteousness," a desire, that is, which never has produced or could produce true poetry, is an idea which Hazlitt could not have really intended to convey.

Marlowe’s works are tragedies. Their greatness lies not merely in the conception of an unhallowed lust, however gigantic, but in an insight into its tragic significance and tragic results; and there is as little food for a hunger after unrighteousness (if there be such a thing) in the appalling final scene of Dr. Faustus, or, indeed, in the melancholy of Mephistopheles, so grandly touched by Marlowe, as in the catastrophe of Richard III or of Goethe’s Faust. It is true, again, that in the later acts of the Jew of Malta Barabas has become a mere monster; but for that very reason the character ceases to show Marlowe’s peculiar genius, and Shakespeare himself has not portrayed the sensual lust after gold, and the touch of imagination which redeems it from insignificance, with such splendour as the opening speech of Marlowe’s play.

Whatever faults however the earlier plays have, it is clear, if Edward II be one of his latest works, that Marlowe was rapidly outgrowing them. For in that play, to say nothing of the 2 great scenes to which Lamb gave such high praise, the interest is no longer confined to a single character, and there is the most decided advance both in construction and in the dialogue.

Of the weightier qualities of Marlowe’s genius the extracts from his purely poetical works give but little idea; but just for that reason they testify to the variety of his powers. Everyone knows the verses "Come live with me, and be my love," with their pretty mixture of gold buckles and a belt of straw. This was a very popular song; Raleigh wrote an answer to it; and its flowing music has run in many a head beside Sir Hugh Evans’s. But the shepherd would hardly be called "passionate" outside the Arcadia to which the lyric really belongs. Of the beautiful fragment in ottava rima nothing is known, except that it was first printed with Marlowe’s name in England’s Parnassus, 1600.

The translations of Lucan and Ovid (the former in blank verse) were perhaps early studies. It is curious that Marlowe should have set himself so thankless a task as a version of Lucan which literally gives line for line; but the choice of the author is characteristic. The translation of Ovid’s Amores was burnt on account of its indecency in 1599, and it would have been no loss to the world if all the copies had perished. The interest of these translations is mainly historical. They testify to the passion for classical poetry, and in particular to that special fondness for Ovid of which the literature of the time affords many other proofs. The study of Virgil and Ovid was a far less mixed good for poetry than that of Seneca and Plautus; and it is perhaps worth noticing that Marlowe, who felt the charm of classical amatory verse, and whose knowledge of Virgil is shown in his Queen Dido, should have been the man who, more than any other, secured the theatre from the dominion of inferior classical dramas.

How fully he caught the inspiration, not indeed of the best classical poetry, but of that world of beauty which ancient literature seemed to disclose to the men of the Renascence, we can see in many parts of his writings, in Faust’s address to Helen, in Gaveston’s description of the sports at Court, in the opening of Queen Dido; but the fullest proof of it is the fragment of Hero and Leander. Beaumont wrote a Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, Shakespeare a Venus and Adonis, but both found their true vehicle in the drama. Marlowe’s poem not only stands far above one of these tales, and perhaps above both, but it stands on a level with his plays; and it is hard to say what excellence he might not have reached in the field of narrative verse. The defect of his fragment, the intrusion of ingenious reflections and of those conceits with one of which our selection unhappily terminates, was the fault of his time; its merit is Marlowe’s own. It was suggested indeed by the short poem of the Pseudo-Musaeus, an Alexandrian grammarian who probably wrote about the end of the fifth century after Christ, and appears to have been translated into English shortly before 1589; but it is in essence original.

Written in the so-called heroic verse, it bears no resemblance to any other poem in that metre composed before, nor, perhaps, is there any written since which decidedly recalls it, unless it be Endymion. "Pagan" it is in a sense, with the Paganism of the Renascence: the more pagan the better, considering the subject. Nothing of the deeper thought of the time, no "looking before and after," no worship of a Gloriana or hostility to an Acrasia, interferes with its frank acceptance of sensuous beauty and joy. In this, in spite of much resemblance, it differs from Endymion, the spirit of which is not fruition but unsatisfied longing, and in which the vision of a vague and lovelier ideal is always turning the enjoyment of the moment into gloom. On the other hand, a further likeness to Keats may perhaps be traced in the pictorial quality of Marlowe’s descriptions. His power does not lie in catching in the aspect of objects or scenes those deeper suggestions which appeal to an imagination stored with human experience as well as sensitive to colour and form; for this power does not necessarily result in what we call pictorial writing; but his soul seems to be in his eyes, and he renders the beauty which appeals directly to sense as vividly as he apprehends it.

Nor is this the case with the description of objects alone. The same complete absorption of imagination in sense appears in Marlowe’s account of the visit to Hero’s tower. This passage is in a high degree voluptuous, but it is not prurient. For prurience is the sign of an unsatisfied imagination, which, being unable to present its object adequately, appeals to extraneous and unpoetic feelings. But Marlowe’s imagination is completely satisfied; and therefore, though he has not a high theme (for it is a mere sensuous joy that is described, and there is next to no real emotion in the matter), he is able to make fine poetry of it. Of the metrical qualities of the poem there can be but one opinion. Shakespeare himself, who quoted a line of it, 1 never reached in his own narrative verse a music so spontaneous and rich, a music to which Marlowe might have applied his own words—

‘That calls my soul from forth his living seat
To move unto the measures of delight.’

Marlowe had many of the makings of a great poet: a capacity for Titanic conceptions which might with time have become Olympian; an imaginative vision which was already intense and must have deepened and widened; the gift of style and of making words sing; and a time to live in such as no other generation of English poets has known. It is easy to reckon his failings. His range of perception into life and character was contracted: of comic power he shows hardly a trace, and it is incredible that he should have written the Jack Cade scenes of Henry VI; no humour or tenderness relieves his pathos; there is not any female character in his plays whom we remember with much interest; and it is not clear that he could have produced songs of the first order. But it is only Shakespeare who can do everything; and Shakespeare did not die at 29. That Marlowe must have stood nearer to him than any other dramatic poet of that time, or perhaps of any later time, is probably the verdict of nearly all students of the drama. His immediate successors knew well what was lost in him; and from the days of Peele, Jonson, Drayton, and Chapman, to our own, the poets have done more than common honor to his memory.[47]

Critical reputationEdit


Numerous testimonies to Marlowe's eminence as a poet and dramatist date from his own time. An elegy by Nashe, which, according to Bishop Tanner, was prefixed to the 1604 edition of the 'Tragedy of Dido,' is unfortunately absent from all extant copies. Henry Petowe was author of a very sympathetic eulogy in his Second Port of Hero and Leander, where Marlowe is described as a "king of poets" and a "prince of poetrie." George Peele, in the prologue to his 'Honour of the Garter' (1593), wrote of –

Marley, the Muse's darling, for thy verse
Fit to write passions for the souls below.[18]

Thorpe, in his dedication of the Lucan, spoke of him with some point as "that pure elementall wit." According to the Returne from Pernassus (ed. Mocray, 86),

Marlowe was happy in his buskined muse,
Alas, unhappy in his life and end.
Pitty it is that wit so ill should dwell,
Wit lent from heauen, but vice sent from hell,
Our Theater hath lost, Pluto hath got,
A tragick penman for a driery plot.[18]

The finest encomium bestowed on him is by Drayton, in his 'Epistle ... of Poets and Poesy,' 1627. It runs (the first word means 'unsophisticated;' another possible reading is 'Next'):

Neat Marlowe bathèd in the Thespian springs,
Had in him those brave translunary things
That the first poets had; his raptures were
All air and fire, which made his verses clear;
For that fine madness still he did retain
Which rightly should possess a poet's brain.[18]

Heywood, in his Hierarchie of the Blessed Angels, 1635 (bk. iv.), wrote less effectively:

Marlo, renown'd for his rare art and wit.
Could ne'er attain beyond the name of Kit.
Although his Hero and Leander did
Merit addition rather.

Ben Jonson, in his verses to Shakespeare's memory, describes how Shakespeare excelled Marlowe's "mighty line".[18]

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."[6]


Marlowe's plays retained a certain popularity, mainly on account of their extravagances, for many years after his death. Tamburlaine or the Jew of Malta often figured in the programmes of provincial companies in Charles I's time (cf. Gayton, Festivous Notes on Don Quitole, 1654, 271). But his place in English literary history was ill appreciated between the 17th and 19th centuries.[18]


Charles Lamb and William Hazlitt 1st perceived the high merits of his Faustus and Edward II, and Hallam, a very sober-minded critic, finally detected the wide interval which separated him from all the other predecessors of Shakespeare.[18]

His reputation in the late 19th century steadily grew at home and abroad. In the opinion of his most recent critics, A.C. Swinburne and John Addington Symonds, he must rank with the great poets of the world.[18]

A complete edition of Marlowe's works, published by Pickering, with a life of the author by G. Robinson, appeared in 3 volumes in 1626. A copy, with copious manuscript notes by J. Broughton, is in the British Museum. Dyce's edition was 1st issued in 1850 (3 volumes), that by Lieutenant-colonel Cunningham in 1871, and that by A.H. Bullen (3 volumes) in 1885. A selection of his poetry was issued in the Canterbury Poets, 1885, (edited by P.E. Pinkerion), and 5 plays (edited bu H. Havelock Ellis), in Mermaid Series in 1887. A French translation by F. Rabbe, with an introduction by J. Richepin, was published, 2 volumes Paris, 1885. A German translation appears in F.M. Bodenstedt's Shakespeare's Zeitgenossen und ihre Werke, Band 3, 1860.


Marlowe is commemorated by the name of Canterbury's main theatre, the Marlowe Theatre, and by the town museums.

A monument to his memory, executed by Mr. E. Onslow Ford, A.R.A., has been placed, by public subscription, near the cathedral at Canterbury. It was unveiled by Mr. Henry Irving on 16 Sept. 1891.[18]

A house at the King's School in Canterbury is named after Marlowe.

His poem "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" was included in the Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900.[48]

A memorial panel to Marlowe in the window of Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey, was unveiled on 11 July 2002.[49]

In popular cultureEdit

In 1599, Marlowe's translation of Ovid was condemned and burnt by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London in June 1599, on the ground of its licentiousness (Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. xii. 436).[46]

Twice has the tragedy of Marlowe's life been made the subject of a play. In 1837 Richard Hengist Horne published his Death of Marlowe, which A.H. Bullen reprinted in his collective edition of the dramatist's works in 1885. W.L. Courtney contributed to the Universal Review in 1890 (vi. 356 sq.) a dramatic sketch entitled "Kit Marlowe." This piece was performed at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 4 July 1890, and was revived at the St. James's Theatre in 1892.[18]

Fictional works about MarloweEdit





  • Certaine of Ouides Elegies, in Epigrammes and Elegies (by Marlowe and John Davies). Middlebourgh [i.e. London]: [1595?]
    • enlarged as All Ouids Elegies. Middlebourgh [i.e. London]: after 1602.
  • Lucans First Booke Translated Line for Line. London: Printed by P. Short, sold by W. Burre, 1600.

Collected editionsEdit

  • Complete Plays and Poems (edited by E.D. Pendry & J.C. Maxwell). London: Dent, 1976.
  • The Complete Works, revised edition (edited by Fredson Bowers). (2 volumes), Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1981.
  • The Complete Works (edited by Roma Gill). (1 volume to date), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[50]

Poems by Christopher MarloweEdit

The Face That Launch'd A Thousand Ships - Christopher Marlowe poem reading Jordan Harling Reads

The Face That Launch'd A Thousand Ships - Christopher Marlowe poem reading Jordan Harling Reads

The Passionate Shepherd To His Love - Christopher Marlowe poem reading Jordan Harling Reads

The Passionate Shepherd To His Love - Christopher Marlowe poem reading Jordan Harling Reads

"Doctor Faustus" (excerpts) by Christopher Marlowe (read by Tom O'Bedlam)

"Doctor Faustus" (excerpts) by Christopher Marlowe (read by Tom O'Bedlam)

  1. The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

See alsoEdit


  • 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, 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
  • 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
  • PD-icon.svg Lee, Sidney (1893) "Marlowe, Christopher" in Lee, Sidney Dictionary of National Biography 36 London: Smith, Elder, pp. 180-190 . Wikisource, Web, Feb. 10, 2018.
  • 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", 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


  1. "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."
  2. 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."
  3. John William Cousin, "Marlowe, Christopher," A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: Dent / New York: Dutton, 1910, 258-259. Wikisource, Web, Feb. 9, 2018.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Lee, 180.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Lee, 181.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Christopher Marlowe, Wikipedia, February 7, 2018. Web, Feb. 9, 2018.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Lee, 182.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Lee, 183.
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 9.12 9.13 9.14 9.15 Lee, 184.
  10. For a full transcript, see Peter Farey's Marlowe page
  11. A Libell, fixte vpon the French Church Wall, in London
  12. For a full transcript, see Peter Farey's Marlowe page
  13. Mulryne, J. H. "Thomas Kyd." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  14. Haynes, Alan. The Elizabethan Secret Service. London: Sutton, 2005.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 15.6 15.7 Lee, 187.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 18.00 18.01 18.02 18.03 18.04 18.05 18.06 18.07 18.08 18.09 18.10 18.11 18.12 18.13 18.14 18.15 18.16 18.17 Lee, 188.
  19. The Coroner's Inquisition (Translation)
  20. Leslie Hotson, The Death of Christopher Marlowe (1925) p.65
  21. Park Honan, Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy (2005) p.325
  22. 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).
  23. J.B. Steane was a Scholar of Jesus College, Cambridge, where he read English. He is the author of Marlowe: A critical study and he edited and wrote an introduction to the Penguin English Library edition of Christopher Marlowe: The Complete Plays.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Steane, J.B. (1969). Introduction to Christopher Marlowe: The Complete Plays. Aylesbury, UK: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-043-037-7. 
  25. Park Honan, Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy, 2005.
  26. This is from a document dated 29 June 1587, from the National Archives - Acts of Privy Council.
  27. Nicholl, Charles (1992). "12". The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe. London: Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0224031007. 
  28. For a full transcript, see Peter Farey's Marlowe page
  29. Nicholl (1992: 246-248)
  30. Stanley, Thomas (1687). The history of philosophy 1655-1661. quoted in Oxford English Dictionary. 
  31. Riggs, David (2004). Cheney, Patrick. ed. The Cambridge Companion to Christopher Marlowe. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 38. ISBN 0521527341. 
  32. Smith, Bruce R. (March 1995). Homosexual desire in Shakespeare's England. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press. p. 74. ISBN 0-226-76366-8. 
  33. Doctor Faustus and Other Plays, pp. viii - ix
  34. White, Paul Whitfield, ed. (1998). Marlowe, History and Sexuality: New Critical Essays on Christopher Marlowe. New York: AMS Press. 
  35. Hero and Leander, 88 (see Project Gutenberg).
  36. Hero and Leander, 157-192.
  37. Hero and Leander, 192-193.
  38. Seaton, Ethel. "Marlowe, Robert Poley, and the Tippings." Review of English Studies 5 (1929): 273.
  39. Greenblatt, Stephen Will in the World. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2004: 268.
  40. Nicholl (1992: 32)
  41. Gray, Austin. "Some Observations on Christopher Marlowe, Government Agent." PMLA 43 (1928): 692-4.
  42. 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
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 43.3 43.4 43.5 43.6 43.7 Thomas Seccombe, "Christopher Marlowe," Encyclopædia Britannica 1911, 17, 743.
  44. Seccombe, 742.
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 45.3 45.4 45.5 45.6 45.7 45.8 Lee, 185.
  46. 46.00 46.01 46.02 46.03 46.04 46.05 46.06 46.07 46.08 46.09 46.10 Lee, 186.
  47. from Andrew Cecil Bradley, "Critical Introduction: Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)," The English Poets: Selections with critical introductions (edited by Thomas Humphry Ward). New York & London: Macmillan, 1880-1918. Web, Apr. 5, 2016.
  48. "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love". Arthur Quiller-Couch, editor, Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1900 (Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1919)., Web, May 6, 2012.
  49. Christopher Marlowe, People, History, Westminster Abbey. Web, July 12, 2016.
  50. Christopher Marlowe 1564-1593, Poetry Foundation, Web, Nov. 5, 2012.

External linksEdit

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PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain, the Dictionary of National Biography (edited by Leslie Stephen). London: Smith, Elder, 1885-1900. Original article is at: Marlowe, Chritopher

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