30th May 1593. What Happened to Marlowe?
Shakespeare’s works under his name appear two weeks after the Inquest on Christopher Marlowe and suspiciously as a seamless continuation.
Marlowe (26.2 1564 (baptised)-30.5 1593, government spy, traveller and provocative playwright, born in the same year as Shakespeare, was reportedly killed Today after a stabbing in a Deptford tavern. (1)
In May 1593 Thomas Kyd, playwright and ex-university room-mate of Marlowe, was arrested for treason, but said heretical papers in his possession were Marlowe’s, who was arrested.
It was whilst out on bail, it was said that the 29 year old Marlowe, drew a knife and lunged at Ingram Frizer a servant of Marlowe’s patron Thomas Walsingham, (cousin of Francis, Queen Elizabeth’s Spymaster). It ended with the supposed death of Marlowe.
Marlowe in an age of religious upheaval was tainted by his supposed atheism: Machiavel in his Jew of Malta does say: ‘I count religion as a childish toy, and hold there is no sin but ignorance’.
By 1593 Marlowe’s presence here and as a spy was parlous, especially when now any heresy was akin to treason, and there were many underpaid spies ready to apprise the authorities of Marlowe and his atheism.(2)
There was also the fact that Coroner William Danby had suspiciously and incorrectly taken the Inquest on Marlowe alone, raising the thought of cover-up of Marlowe’s fake death and escape to Europe to continue writing: Shakespeare? [The Marlowe Society case]
After all ‘Shakespeare’ did have an obsession with faked deaths-33 characters in 18 plays!
Any serious assessment of Marlowe’s work had to await Algernon Charles Swinburne who described him as: ‘Inspired pioneer in all our poetic literature’.
Before there was no genuine blank verse or tragedy in the English language, which would have been polished at Corpus Christi, Cambridge where he was Archbishop Parker scholar.(3)
In July 2002 a window in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey dedicated to Marlowe gives his death as ?1593, as the Marlow Society say he didn’t die in that year but escaped to Europe to continue to write another day.
(1) The story was embellished by Francis Meres in 1598 who described Marlowe’s end as, ‘stabbed to death by bawdy serving man a rival in lewde love’. It was also described by William Vaughan in his Golden Grove (1600).
(2) Marlowe was of the Raleigh school of atheists which wouldn’t have enamoured him with Puritan moralists for example Thomas Beard, author of the Theatre of God’s Judgement in 1597.
He had noted Marlowe’s supposed atheism and association with homosexuals, both of which featured in his writings, and was quick to blame his demise as a sign of God’s judgement.
(3) Elizabeth’s advisers intervened when the University refused to grant Marlowe’s MA, showing his close association with government and power.
Ref: telegraph.co.uk. Nigel Reynolds. 11.7.2002. Marlowe puts ? mark over Shakespeare.
Ref: telegraph.co.uk/culture/ who- killed- christopher-marlowe? Park Honan. 21.10.2005.
Ref: bbc.co.uk/Radio 4 Prog. In our Time. 7.7.2005.
Ref: wwnorton.com/college/English literature. Norton’s Anthology of English Literature of Middle Ages.
Ref: Wikipedia.org/Christopher_ Marlowe.
Ref: Westminster Abbey/Glass Image.