Talk:Christopher Marlowe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Marlowe's Religious Views[edit]

I think this article might be approaching Marlowe's supposed atheism a little uncritically. If you conflate Marlowe with his characters, then this would perhaps be easy to do, but it is a false presumption. And even if you did say that his character's spoke for him, the last scene in Dr. Faustus makes his supposed atheism even more questionable.

Also, I have a quibble with the use of the term "anti-theist" in the comments on the reccents production. For one, to say that the play it self has anti-religious overtones is again equating a character's views with author's intentended tone. What's more, the term "anti-theist" is completely absurd in the context of Marlowe's age, because there was no such thing as a "theist" to be again. The word "theist" is itself is, I think, a back formation from "atheist", and no one before the 19th or 20th century ever thought of themselves or others with such a term. Corbmobile 05:40, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Much Ado About Something[edit]

Michael Rubbo, the Australian documentarian working for the Canadian National Film Board, has just completed a film called Much Ado About Something, which posits that Marlowe did not die but fled the country to avoid persecution, and in exile wrote the works of Shakespeare. Sounds preposterous, I know, but the film is quite interesting & provoking anyway; it played at the Toronto Film Festival just after the Sept 11th attacks, and I saw a sneak preview of it a few weeks ago. The entry for it is not yet up on IMDb, but the film has been optioned by both PBS and the BBC, though the A(ustralian)BC has yet to decide on a length they want it cut to. Though it was originally 2 hours long, I saw a 93-minute version, and either PBS or the BBC wanted another 6 minutes cut from it; Rubbo was considering releasing the various cut interviews on a DVD. Look for it on PBS in early 2002; I don't know when it's coming out on the BBC. --Koyaanis Qatsi

Oh, dear. Well,unlike most other "he wrote Shakespeare" entries Marlowe actually wrote plays, which makes him the easiest to dismiss on a personal investigation. (I'm not saying that the movie's not fun, by the way, only that Shakespeare probably wrote most of Shakespeare!)
  1. Read any three Shakespeare history plays
  2. Read Tambulaine, Edward II, and Dido
Then get back to me. They're different authors. You can do the same thing with "Truman Capote really wrote To Kill A Mockingbird for his cousin Harper Lee." Read Other Voices, Other Rooms. Reread To Kill A Mockingbird. Yes, authors develop and change, but there are differences. By the way, this isn't my idea - I had to do it for a course in college! --MichaelTinkler

Yes, the film is quite fun. Your counter-arguments are actually not uncommon, and Rubbo addresses them in his film. People will of course have to decide for themselves whether they're convinced. :-)

I'm not claiming they're uncommon - only that Marlow is the easiest-falsified of the 'he wrote S' entries, since he actually *did* write plays that survive (unlike Bacon or Oxford or whoever else people put forward). I hope he convinces no-one, because I don't want to have to write the entry for 'pseudo-literary criticism' to go with pseudoscience ! ; ) --MichaelTinkler

Well, he does address what you've just said above. Just a disclaimer, I am not convinced--but, as I said, it's an entertaining and provoking film. You should look for it. :-) --Koyaanis Qatsi

I think it is reasonable to believe that contemporary standards of investigation are easily good enough to show beyond any reasonable doubt that Marlowe did not write Shakespeare's plays. Simple questions of overall style and quality of a work are the easiest for a layperson to see, but patterns of word use (particularly pronoun use) vary widely, and are often characteristic of a particular author. Then there is the question of vocabulary change, there is comparatively little vocabulary change between the plays we attribute to Marlowe, but a move to the Shakespeare plays shows a wide difference in vocabulary. So, on the level of language use alone, it is possible to determine that it is highly unlikely that Marlowe wrote Henry IV, or that Paul of Tarsus wrote the letter to the Hebrews.
And these techniques can be used even when an author is intentionally trying to mimic the work of another author, since such mimicry would require the use of these same tools for linguistic analysis, which is a skill few people have, and which nobody even knew about in Marlowe's day. --Mark Christensen

Yes, Rubbo knew about linguistic patterns too. If I recall correctly, he did have interviews on it that were in the 2 hours version but that got cut between that and the 93 minute one (IIRC, the Beeb wanted it at 93 minutes and PBS optioned it at 87, though I might have that backwards). He spoke to me specifically about the patterns of article usage. I find the whole thing unlikely for the same reason I find most conspiracies unlikely: it assumes a greater level of competence than most people have. :-D But anyway, Rubbo could present his case much better than I can, simply because he is likely a believer and I am not, and also because he spent three years on it in research and production and I spent about 3 hours on it (I saw two showings--neither of them with Q&A from Shakespear scholars, though that would have been a sight for a documentary of its own). --Koyaanis Qatsi

The way I've heard it, the Marlowe theory mentioned above is quite a well-researched one and probably the least far-fetched of the "Who wrote Shakespeare?" theories. The biggest point in its favour is that Marlowe "disappeared" around the time that Shakespeare started to make it big. I'm not saying I agree with it, but it might be worth mentioning in the main Marlowe entry, mightn't it? --Deb

It probably is worth mentioning, but in a sort of "there is controversy over" way. Perhaps one sentence? Anyways, like MichaelTinkler above, I've read three plays by each, and am personally confident that the theory is bunk, although I grant that it is fascinating, intriguing, and theoretically possible. Just not believable for me, once you've read both men. Still, its interesting that most folks, outside of stoddy English professors :), aren't willing to believe that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. --Atorpen 06:26 Feb 3, 2003 (UTC)

The film is worthless. You can't deal with complex scholarly issues like this based on a short television documentary. He doesn't even begin to introduce all the problems with the Marlovian authorship theory. Yet people watch films like that, make an ill-judged decision, and then go off crusading against purported blindness of professors who actually spend their live studying shakespeare. --- Tamburlaine —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

I very much enjoyed discovering the comments about my film, Much Ado About Soething. That doc, made a couple of years ago, explores the idea that Kit marlowe was the hidden hand behind a front man, a theatre professional, William Shakespeare.

I dont say I believe this but I do think it's a stimulating propostion, given the circumstances. It is not a matter of there being proof as yet, just puzzling circumstances. The first is the doubts about Shakespeare which have swirled around the man for 200 years. Many fine brains, Henry James, Freud, Orson Wells and now Mark Rylance, have come to doubt.

Why? Because there just does not seem to be any good fit between the genius of the works, the erudition needed to write them, and the man, Shakepeare, as we know him from the very thin historcial record.

The second circumstance is that Marlowe, exactly Shakespeare's contemporary, was the other great playwrite and poet of the time, and that his works feed seamlessly, both plays and poems, into those of Shakepeare so as to posit some sort of intimate relationship. All the major scholars have remarked this and none can explain the relationship

The third cicumstance is that Marlowe dies young under very mysterions circumstances, or does he? He is killed at the end of a puzzling meeting. Marlowe is at a house in Depford on May 30th, 1593 at a time of great personal danger. He has been arrested by the Privy council on the charge of Athiesm, is out on bail, faces imminet re arrest, and toture.

He goes to the Depford meeting one would assume with his dire situation uppermost in his mind. Secondly, of the other men at the meeting, and especially the one who will apparently stab him, Ingram Fizer, two are intimately connected with Marlowe's patron, Sir Thomas Walsingham.

One has to ask then, given this possible suport, was the death faked, another body put into the unparked grave, so Marlowe could flee into exile? Marlowe has been a spy. He knows that shady world and how people can disappear. Would he not put all this to his own use?

The fourth circumstance now emerges. If Marlowe did survive, and if Shakespeare is such a weak candiate for author, what is the relationship between the two, if any, from 1593 onwards?

It is curious that the name Shakepeare appears in print for the first time just days after Marlowe's suposed death. It is curious that the Shakespearean sonnets speak of exile and friendship lost, and and even hint at Marlowe's death cicumstances. It is curious that so many of the plays are set in Italy and that there is no evdence of Shakespeare ever travelling.

Agreed, as yet its all speculation, there is no smoking gun. But it's a fascinating muystery and don't let anyone talk you out of giving it the once over. As I write, another Shakespeare replacement is being proposed for the first time, the unknown Sir Henry Neville. I have not read the new book, The Truth Will Out, but on the surface, Marlowe rermains a more plausible candidate.

If you want to talk to me in greater detail about my three years on this project, email me at I will happy to answer if not inundated. Mike Rubbo —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

Several men with connections to the secret service huddle together all day in a remote house run by a woman with her own links to spies? Surely, as any Le Carre reader would know, this is either a debriefing session, reporting back on some spying mission, or else a session to plan in detail the next mission. Only someone completely lacking real world experience - such as a literary academic - could believe that such a day ended with a murder over a bill. Either Marlowe was murdered by his handlers on instructions from someone much more senior in Elizabeth's police state, or else, no murder took place, and the event was a frame-up to hide something else. (Why else meet in Deptford, if not to allow someone - Marlowe or murderer - an easy escape to Europe by sea?)

It is certainly not unreasonable, given the evidence we have, to conclude that Marlowe did not die that day. In which case, one has to ask what subsequent literature could have been written by him? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

Walsingham - as Marlowes patron[edit]

Thomas Walsingham - if he is the same one that this page links to, could not have been marlowes patron as the section on his death claims, simply because they lived in different centuries.

Fixed.--Old Moonraker (talk) 06:21, 16 June 2010 (UTC)

Marlowe's sexuality[edit]

Does any biographer or even rational person argue that because many of his plays had heterosexual relationships in a predominantly heterosexual culture it would therefore make him heterosexual? Or was that just someone's original research. I suspect the latter because whom ever contributed it had a poor understanding of Marlowe, claiming that Edward II was the only male love theme is all his works, which is just not true. 18:17, 2 August 2005 (UTC)

Nobody was arguing this. The point is that it is questionable to use Marlowe's writing as biographical evidence at all because you can argue whatever you like. References to Ganymede and admiration of male beauty were commonplaces in Renaissance art, it is begging the question to argue that this proves anything. As for Edward II, the subject matter of a play was often chosen by the acting company that commissioned it; and since the play passed two censors, the Master of the Revels for performance and the Archbishop of Canterbury for publication, clearly no one found it shocking. As for historical evidence of his homosexuality, there is only Baines's accusations, which some might suggest is not evidence at all. The same goes for accusations that he thought Christ and St John were lovers (another commonplace). Francis Mere's "stabbed to death by a bawdy serving man, a rival of his in his lewd love" is contradicted by the coroner's inquest, unless you want to take issue with that. It's also dubious to speak of a "predominantly heterosexual culture" as such terms didn't exist; this was Elizabethan England, not Victorian England. And who were these Cambridge students that wrote about Marlowe? I don't think I've heard of that one. 13:17, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

Some comments about's contributions:

"other independent sources also claim he was...homosexual". What sources? The inaccuracy of the Meres quote is mentioned above, and the Kyd quote isn't an accusation of sodomy, even if Marlowe actually said it (it derives from John 13:23-25). (The Baines quote isn't an accusation of sodomy either, when you think about it.)

"Marlowe died in a quarrel over a religious argument". No he didn't.

"Many of his earliest dramas also explore the theme of male love." Many?

"Hero and Leander, also contains homosexual themes". It certainly contains heterosexual themes. All that the Ganymede references in Dido and Hero and Leander prove is that he was familiar with Greek mythology.

"English boy". Huh?

"Furthermore no accounts of any marriage or female companionship have been forthcoming". Yeah. You couldn't get your enemy hanged for having a girlfriend.

I doubt that would take kindly to anyone trimming some of this argumentum ad nauseam the way he brazenly deleted an argument he disagreed with. As for having "a poor understanding of Marlowe", I suspect he has no interest in Marlowe (or Shakespeare) whatsoever, beyond this.

Finally, a quote:

We know next to nothing about Marlowe. When we speak or write about him, we are really refering to a construct called 'Marlowe'... For whatever reason, writers and critics seem particularly predisposed to pontificate about Marlowe's life, his character, and his artistic intentions, regardless of the exiguity of the documentary evidence on which they base their accounts. Given these circumstances, it is scarcely surprising that researchers' hunches quickly become transmogrified, as a consequence, into hard 'facts'. (J. A. Downie, "Marlowe: facts and fictions", p.13. In J. A. Downie and J. T. Parnell, eds., Constructing Christopher Marlowe, Cambridge 2000. ISBN 052157255X) 13:42, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

Other students at Cambridge where he studied said of him in journals that "pity it is that wit so ill should dwell, wit lent from heaven, but vices sent from hell." Actually, the verses quoted come from the play The Return from Parnassus, written years after Marlowe's death. Once again this article has become a mine of misinformation. 13:52, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

It comes from:

  • Marlowe was happy in his buskin Muse

Alas, unhappy in his life and end;

Pity it is that wit so ill should dwell,

Wit lent from heaven, but vices sent from hell.

Our theatre hath lost, Pluto hath got,

A tragic penman for a dreary plot.

-- anon. Cambridge student writing about Marlowe in The Return From Parnassus , 1598

Read the sources. Stop adding your opinion - scholars believe he was homosexual when all the evidence is taken into consideration. Kyd and Baines accused him of being a paederast essentially. Upon his death it was contributed to him, though the method was false. The Cambridge students write he was. And two of his major plays explore the theme. Face it you can't discredit it, and you certainly cannot delete anything when citations have been made. 06:42, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

I've read the sources, thanks. Kyd does not accuse Marlowe of pederasty, nor does the "Cambridge student". So much for your reading of the "evidence". I'll remove what you put back in the article for its inaccuracy and incoherency and the other reasons stated above. The article cites the sources and says that many people believe he was gay (and doesn't argue that he was or wasn't). What more do you want? The article isn't the place to try him; he isn't around to defend himself. 13:38, 1 September 2005 (UTC)
One again, I repeat. when all the evidence is taken into consideration. Unless you can cite something that is inaccurate, something specific you have no right to remove material. We must list why some historians think he was homosexual. What you are doing is deleting it. Kyd does not directly accuse Marlowe of pederasty, nor does the "Cambridge student", the article does not say that, what historians believe is that it is an allusion to his pederasty when combined with his plays exploring the theme, even describing anal sex, and the testimony of Baines and the other fellow. 06:02, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

You both want the same thing: a balanced treatment of the subject. So I've done it for you, since you both seem incapable. Read what I've done and edit as you will, but please: if you find something incorrect, change it, don't just delete it. And don't add anything unless it's QUOTED ACCURATELY and CLEARLY CITED. The Singing Badger 13:28, 2 September 2005 (UTC)

"if you find something incorrect, change it, don't just delete it". Change something that's incorrect to what, exactly? Only one side here has been deleting things on the grounds that it contradicts their own view. I resent being treated on the same level as, given his/their inability to get the facts right, as has been demonstrated in the posts above. And we don't both want the same thing. My position (on several aspects of Marlovian biography) is that the evidence is inconclusive or not really evidence at all. He wants to assert (ad nauseam) that a certain view on a certain topic is absolutely true. As for "a balanced treatment of the subject", the subject here is a poet and dramatist. Unless someone wants to suggest that his only claim to fame is that he was a murdered gay atheist spy. I maintain that my edit of the article (13:56, 29 August 2005) contained all the necessary facts (besides adding a lot of other biographical information) and was NPOV. Compromise is not necessarily the best solution. If I were to change all the things I consider to be wrong, the result would be the same. 14:30, 3 September 2005 (UTC)
OK, I should have said you both claim to want the same thing. Mr 70.57-whatever is aberrantly keen to twist every scrap of evidence into a gay interpretation but you seem aberrantly keen to shrug it off as nothing. Mr 70.57-whatever is semi-literate and lacking in scholarly knowledge but your approach to the subject is also problematic because it suppresses information: while your point about the circular argument is important, you do not mention that the amount of homosexual references in the plays is genuinely unusual). Your approach as discussed above seems to be 'I personally do not think this is interesting, therefore it must go'. That's not the point of an encyclopedia. The article as it currently stands gives the evidence, such as it is, but stresses that it is inconclusive. What is wrong with that?
By the way, I entirely agree that there is not enough material about Marlowe as poet and dramatist in this article, but the solution to that is to actually write something about it. The Singing Badger 20:17, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

One rather obvious point about Marlowe that never seems to be mentioned is that he was never married. If he had been this would certainly have been known in the written record. Nor as far as I am aware was his name ever linked with a woman in any romantic capacity. This must have been an extreme rarity for a man of 29 in Elizabethan England. In fact you would expect children by this age. Circumstantial support only for the idea that he was interested more in men, but taken together with other references it could be significant.

Censorship v. 'allegations of censorship'[edit]

Let us not mince words here. Where you have the content of a work of major literary and artistic status which is ruthlessly hacked apart by a talentless apparatchik to suit the sensibilities of an audience patronisingly believed tó be too stupid to make their own intelligent decisions about content, what we are looking at is, er, censorship. I have read the mealy-mouthed snivelling in the Guardian and frankly never have I laughed so much at a pack of lies in a good long time. Sjc 05:40, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

Well, I won't mince my words either then. You are throwing your POV at the subject. Just because your incapable of comprehending the decisions the director claims he made (and I don't mean agree, I mean comprehend) it doesn't mean he's lying. The fact that The Times didn't even bother to quote the play's director in their attack article, relying entirely on quotes from someone else, makes me strongly suspect he's *always* maintained it is his artistic decision to turn the play from "anti-Turkish pantomime" to an attack on all religion (a stance which would have got Marlowe killed). And, as the play *still* depicts the Koran being burnt, he's hardly being a sop to Islamic militant. So unless you can present definitive proof that the play's director, and not someone else, has said the play was censored, it is alleged, and we should give the links, state the facts, and leave people to make up their own minds. Or do you believe that Wikipedians are so stupid that they can't make their own intelligent decisions about censorship? Average Earthman 08:00, 1 December 2005 (UTC)

Having both seen the version of the play in question and rather better produced (uncensored) ones, I think there is only one word which fits the bill in this context: censorship. While I seldom subscribe to The Times' take on the world, they were pretty on the nail with this particular turkey. There is nothing alleged about it being censored. It just is. Much like Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch, this play is censored. It isn't just modified, it has been nailed to its perch with a flim-flam of ersatz political correctness which does nothing for the play nor the people whose intellects are insulted and who have paid to watch it. For David Farr to argue that it isn't censorship is frankly disingenuous nonsense. I think you really ought to have a look at the notes on weasel words if you want to skirt as circuitously round the truth as you seem to wish to do. And I most certainly believe that there are some Wikipedians who are so stupid they won't be able to spot censorship until they are eventually rounded up by the Thought Police. By which time it will be far too late. Moreover it should be noted that the rework of the play occurred immediately in the wake of the July 7 bomb attacks in London. Coincidence? I suspect not. Sjc 09:48, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

PS: Terry Hands, (who directed a verbatim and unabridged Tamburlaine for the Royal Shakespeare Company has recently said on this subject: “I don’t believe you should interfere with any classic for reasons of religious or political correctness.” Sjc 10:01, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

PPS So unless you can present definitive proof that the play's director, and not someone else, has said the play was censored, it is alleged, and we should give the links, state the facts, and leave people to make up their own minds. You cannot seriously have an opinion on Kit Marlowe, the single most dangerous thinker of his age (bar none), and argue as pathetically as this. Let's hypothetically suppose the director kills 50 people and says he hasn't killed them, he isn't a murderer unless he says so? Er.......... Sjc 10:10, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

He isn't a murderer until a jury convicts him as such, as well you know. Anything else before then is someone's point of view. Average Earthman 12:41, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

OK, let's do this in words of not more than one syllable, sorry, bit. The fact that a jury may or may not convict someone does not alter the facts: if a thing is, it is. This is a concept which is called reality, one which you may feel a need to read up on. And David Irving isn't a historical revisionist because he says he isn't rofl? Sjc 04:48, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

Incidentally the online version of The Stage not exactly your most conservative of vehicles, has this to say (and unsuprisingly like anyone with eyes to see they also think it has been censored). [1] Sjc 10:22, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Anyone with any eyes can see the line "may have been censored". You might be outraged that anyone, particularly some wooly liberal atheist, would rewrite Marlowe, but that isn't censorship, that's a rewrite to their personal POV. Just because the Daily Mail and the Times scream otherwise doesn't make it so. Average Earthman 12:41, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

The word "wooly" has two letter 'l's. Just because The Times (please note that it takes two capital 'T's) and The Daily Mail (definite article, therefore requiring a capitalisation) say so doesn't mean it is or was censored in my book either. However, let us look carefully at the evidence. Certain passages have been removed or variously altered or amended, which some may or may not argue, are central to the philosophical core of one of the most major of English 16th century plays. The reasons for the removal are entirely in the mind of the director: against a backdrop of the 7/7 London bombings, a wedge of pertinent content up and disappears. To an apologist for the feeble minded and cowardly looking for away to weaselly explain this away, we can blame the media for not understanding the director's intentions. To anyone else with an IQ that flickers marginally above the subnormal and a reading age beyond 4, this is going to look and smell suspiciously like censorship. I would further submit that the only POV in play here is yours' since the consensus of opinion in the real world seems to be that the removal of information by whatever agency to whatever intent for whatever reason is an act of censorship, not alleged (NB. note again weasel words please) censorship. Sjc 04:48, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

The reason is fear of the cutthroat Mahometan.

Christopher Marlowe's Patron[edit]

I'm confused at to the details of Thomas Walsingham, Marlowe's Patron. The link for the former person leads to a person who died 140+ years before Marlowe was born (plus the fact that he was a monk), which means that this Walsingham is incorrect, and the link should be removed until the correct details have been found.

Fixed.--Old Moonraker (talk) 06:21, 16 June 2010 (UTC)

Marlowe in modern fiction[edit]

I have a webpage listing Marlowe appearances in modern fiction. I think it might be a useful addition to this page, particularly given the Marlowe in fiction section.

However, because it is something I created (and because I'm new to Wikipedia editing), I'm not the most impartial judge for inclusion. I don't want this to seem like an ego thing, so do other people want to evaluate the page and whether it's suitable?


LisRiba 19:51, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

My addition to the Marlowe in Fiction was removed, with Wikipedia itself saying I was being "sarcastic" by saying his death was revealed to be at the hands of Andrew Norton, from 'Slow Chocolate Autopsy' by Iain Sinclair. How was it even SLIGHTLY sarcastic? I didn't put it in the main body of the article, under "fact"! At the end of the day, ALL I was doing was adding that novel to the Marlowe-related fiction that exists. This has been removed. I'm used to this by now, from Wikipedia itself, from Memory Beta and even Memory Alpha, but it's still insulting... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:27, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

Roberta Ballantine has Marlowe alive in 1618 in the English embassy house in Venice. Her once GeoCities web page is now assessable from "One afternoon in late spring, 1618, at a play-party in Harry Wotton's big living room, Micaela sang and danced as the Jailer's Daughter (Kit played the Jailer) .... " Roberta's tale may be fiction or great true one.Teslafieldmachine (talk) 20:57, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

Saying something negative[edit]

I don't mean to pick on Marlowe, but can anyone really think it's possible to say this with a straight face?

"The only contemporary dramatist 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.""

Off the top of my head, you have Robert Greene who disses him as a Machiavellian atheist in Groatsworth of Wit and Perimedes, Henry Chettle who slams him as someone you don't want to know in Kind Heart's Dream, Thomas Kyd who goes into great detail in a couple letters about what an awful roomie Marlowe was, and Ben Jonson who criticized Marlowe's work as drama which "flies from all humanity". And maybe not contemporary, but one of the funniest Renaissance allusions to Marlowe has to be in that scene of Sir John Suckling's The Goblins when a Poet goes down to hell and asks if he can see one of the great poets, like Edmund Spenser, say. "Oh no, he's not here," says one of the devils, "but here's he that writ Tamburlaine!"

Kit Marlowe and gaiety[edit]

What the hell is going on here? The section on Kit's sexuality reads like a running argument: "Here's this proof taht he was gay" "or that might not be true because" "but then there's this thing". Look, he was homosexual. Simple. Don't disrupt wikiepdia to make some kind of POINT. Dev920 (Have a nice day!) 16:02, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Did Marlowe publicly admit to this behavior? Did anyone witness him engaged in this behavior? If not, then there is no proof.Lestrade (talk) 01:49, 12 November 2008 (UTC)Lestrade
I think it's best to tread very carefully where posthumous "outing" is concerned. Besides, it's anachronistic to refer to Marlowe as gay or bisexual as we have absolutely no idea what it meant to be LGBT in Elizabethan England. What we deem a form of sexual identity (if you'll forgive the expression) was then regarded as nothing more than a sexual act. Absurdtrousers (talk) 15:48, 14 April 2009 (UTC)

Out of date biography[edit]

On closely reading a lot of the material on Kit Marlowe, I found many of the details to be incorrect in light of new evidence. I would advise any one interested in his biography to read more up to date material. I've just finished Emeritus Professor Park Honan's biography (published 2005) and found it highly illuminating, and particularly helpful for my dissertation on crises of subjectivity in his later works. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 20:12, 1 February 2007 (UTC).

Twelve Years[edit]

Marlowe died twelve years before the Fawkes Gunpowder Plot, and that's the same number of years Prospero was stranded on the island in Shakespeare's The Tempest, before he withdrew himself and returned to Milan. I thought somewhere that this was possibly not a coincidence, but I can't remember where.

Arkhamite 21:29, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Marlowe's homosexuality[edit]

I modified a lot of the language on Marlowe's sexuality, not because I desired to minimize the appearance that he was gay, but because the argument as presented did not work well. Homoerotic attraction in Marlowe's work causes as many problems as heteroerotic attraction: Edward's love for Gaveston destroys him, and Neptune's love for Leander destroys Leander. Marlowe's sympathy in Dido remains mostly with the Queen, but that play does not thematize homosexuality and at any rate the story was commonplace. No one in Marlowe's plays is fortunate in love, except for Tamburlaine and Zenocrate. Jlittlet 21:36, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

Suggested Marlowe Website Link[edit]

Dear Editors,

I would like to suggest the addition of my website on Christopher Marlowe to your links section.

As a professional writer, I have just completed a novel fictionalizing Marlowe’s life and thus collected many notes and documents on this subject. I have now posted this research on my site, including a detailed, easy-to-read profile on Marlowe, a comprehensive timeline, and descriptions of his known associates. I have also uploaded a collection of primary documents that relate to his controversial death (many of these documents are very difficult to find elsewhere on the web). I have cited my sources throughout the site, thereby giving the pages scholarly merit.

You may link to my Marlowe pages at:

Thanks for your consideration. Best regards, Matthew Scarsbrook. Matthewscarsbrook 01:00, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

Not a tavern?[edit]

If Marlowe died in Eleanor Bull's home and not a business establishment, what bill did they argue over? Atropos 22:16, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

As best I understand, that "not a tavern" edit is in heavy need of de-emphasizing. It may well have been a tavern. There's no direct confirmation of that, which biographers are keen to point out, but the converse does not follow. Eleanor Bull was obviously running a business of some kind, and reasoned speculations conclude (from William Urry's Christopher Marlowe and Canterbury pg. 83) "that it may have been a place of public refreshment," or "Equally she may have been no more than a landlady whose lodger brought in some friends for the day and to whom she served food for which she expected payment". Eleanor Bull's name never appears negatively in the Rochester act books (where whorehouses, etc., were rung up), so whatever her place was, "it may be inferred that both Mrs Bull and her house were quite respectable" (Urry 84). 09:48, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
Nicholl (author of The Reckoning) states (p 37) "Marlowe died not in a tavern or bawdyhouse. but in the house of a local official's widow". Robma 11:02, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, when launching into a fit of rhetoric at the end of a chapter, as he is wont to do. His more sober reflections at the beginning of the chapter read: "There was no lack of taverns in naval Deptford, but there is nothing to link Mrs. Bull with any of them, and if her house had been known by a sign it is likely that the inquest would have said so. More probably she ran a lodging-house or victualling-house, a private establishment which offered accommodation and food, rather than a public 'place of resort'." (pg. 35) As shown by his notes, his statements reflect no original research but are just riffs upon Urry's, though the speculation about what the inquest "would have" done is entirely Nicholl's own -- and his description is misleading, since the cite for there being "no lack of taverns" for which Eleanor Bull can't be linked to is from a survey conducted in 1609, when she had already been dead 13 years, and Urry had cited that survey as contextual support for the popular, though admittedly unproved, notion that Marlowe did die in a tavern. Deptford had a lot of taverns and Eleanor Bull may well have owned one, is the point.
The sum of it is we don't know the precise nature of the business Eleanor Bull was running. Urry gives the reasonable possibilities. To state, with emphasis, that it was not a tavern is taking the evidence where it will not follow, while to claim it was just a house owned by a widow is positively misleading, as even Nicholl concedes when he's not trying to amp up a good final bang to a chapter. 14:17, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
Maybe these opposing viewpoints, should be included briefly in the article. It needs a bit a reformatting in general, though. Atropos 18:15, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
I think an adequate statement would be that "Surviving records do not specify the precise nature of Eleanor Bull's establishment; it may have been a place of public refreshment, or a lodging house that offered food and accommodation." With cites to further reading in a footnote. I agree that this article is much in need of reshaping: why, for instance, is a factual discussion of Marlowe's life outside the theater included under the heading "The Marlowe legend"? I know there have been superior versions of this article in the past, but somebody has gone around deleting pertinent detail while adding fluff like the crank notion that he faked his death and wrote Hamlet. This article doesn't include any mention of his arrest for the murder of William Bradley or the squabble with William Corkine, or the literary scuffles he endured with Robert Greene and Henry Chettle, material that was in former versions of the article but has currently been placed into editorial limbo. The omission of the latter from the Marlowe's Reputation Among Contemporary Writers section is startling. 23:43, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, its a tragedy. I'm personally not an expert on Marlowe, but there's a shelf of biographies from the past 100 years at my city's main library, unfortunately in the reference section and not check-out-able. It was my plan to improve it as soon as I got a laptop. Anything you could do would be awesome. Atropos 23:56, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
All good stuff the tavern: given the frequency with which definitive statements on this have been made over the years (incl. by, er, yours truly), perhaps someone would consider doing a side-bar on "Murdered in a "tavern" ?" or some such, reflecting the complex reality Robma 21:45, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

Eleanor Bull and John Dee[edit]

"It is worth noting", reads the a article in support of the contention that Marlowe was familiar with Dark Arts, "that Eleanor Bull, landlady of the house in Deptford where Marlowe met his end, was cousin to John Dee". Is it? No instance of anything other than a casual link between Bull and Marlowe is offered and I am inclined to remove this as original research, subject to other editors' views, or to something new regarding the link. --Old Moonraker (talk) 14:26, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Done.--Old Moonraker (talk) 08:17, 9 August 2008 (UTC)

"Homosexual" Edward II[edit]

The conflation of the phrase "history play" with the phrase "homosexual Edward II' is not helpful to readers unfamiliar with Edward's alleged homosexuality. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:13, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

It's relevant, but the context isn't explained. Removed for the time being. --Old Moonraker (talk) 12:42, 4 January 2009 (UTC)
Replaced with favourites. --Old Moonraker (talk) 12:49, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Someone Revert[edit] Apparently someone replaced the whole literary career section with "dick in your asshole". --WathyreckkEXPLOD-ED!! 08:11, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Sorry it took so long! --Old Moonraker (talk) 09:30, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Marlowe in fiction[edit]

I don't understand why this is considered miscellaneous information. I would've thought Marlowe's depiction in popular culture was noteworthy. Absurdtrousers (talk) 15:52, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

Christopher Marlowe: Sexuality[edit]

You have an incorrect citing. The Eric Rasmussen you have cited is a baseball player; the other, more literary, Eric Rasmussen is a Shakespearean Professor at UNR. I don't believe he has a Wikipedia page. Here is some information concerning Rasmussen:

Jnalbertson85 (talk) 22:30, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

Link removed. Thanks for noticing, and don't forget WP:BOLD! All the best. --Old Moonraker (talk) 22:42, 25 October 2009 (UTC)

"In fiction" section[edit]

In column inches this is nearly the longest section in the article. Some of the entries are valid: for example A Dead Man in Deptford is a noteworthy novel about Marlowe that has stood the test of time. On the other hand others seem ephemeral at best—one offers only: "Marlowe makes a brief appearance in a pub". I think a trim would be in order, but perhaps it should come from an editor better versed in contemporary popular culture than I. --Old Moonraker (talk) 12:56, 25 March 2010 (UTC)

Realistically, sections like this are like cancer. If you leave a little it just encourages everybody to put their favorite little factoid in it and it metastasizes. It is better to remove the cancer in its entirety. Otherwise you just simply have to live with a giant list of trivia that dwarfs the rest of the article. Ekwos (talk) 06:11, 16 June 2010 (UTC)
It's still spreading. Heroic surgery now seems called for. Again, an editor capable of wielding a finer and more discriminating blade than mine is needed, but failing that I'll give it a try. --Old Moonraker (talk) 06:09, 21 June 2010 (UTC)
Well, I got rid of six of them and trimmed one of them down a bit. Ekwos (talk) 19:10, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

Sorry if I misused the rollback facility, but I assure you that Marlowe is the central character in "One Dagger For Two". PatGallacher (talk) 00:19, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

I see this issue has arisen again, inviting further discussion. Personally I would agree that at least some of the 'fiction' section is indeed irrelevant in that it adds nothing to the article's information about Marlowe—the imaginative fantasies of non-contemporaries being of no value unless accompanied by serious scholarship and genuine notability. I would not put romantic (and/or POV) speculations about sexuality, faked death, etc, in that class. I would also place this in the MoS category of a trivia section to be avoided. I would start by removing all the redlinked authors as insufficiently notable for our purposes. I would then ask if each of the remaining entries can be converted into a well-sourced short paragraph establishing some sort of relevance. As an example, look at this former list which has been both shortened and improved by the discipline. Cheers, Bjenks (talk) 02:42, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Duly noted; this seems like a reasonable approach and I'll be sure to abide by consensus for the purposes of making this list less trivial, while retaining the more notable related works. Boogerpatrol (talk) 13:17, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
I certainly agree that the list needs pruning, but would be sorry to see either of the "faked death" novels removed. Wilbur Zeigler's book was of course the first to suggest such an idea and gets a couple of pages devoted to it by Charles Nicholl in Shakespeare Beyond Doubt (pp. 31–32). Ros Barber's was written as part of her PhD thesis, was long-listed for the Women’s Prize For Fiction (former Orange Prize) 2013, and won both the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Author’s Club First Novel Award for 2013. Peter Farey (talk) 06:38, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

I don't think there's any point in slapping a trivia tag on the section which might languish there for years. I think we should stick to the section heading "fictional works about Marlowe", not works in which he pops up or gets a passing mention. 'Works about Marlowe' are not trivial at all. Span (talk) 23:00, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

The first thing the trivia tag states is to avoid "lists of miscellaneous information". The problem is that it is currently just such a list. The information isn't necessarily bad it's how the information is presented and without any context or discussion about the significance of that information. The section needs to be rewritten as prose that discusses the use of the subject in fiction using reliable sources. Surely there exists some reliable sources out there discussing this point? In the meantime the tag serves as a reminder for anyone who happens by and who cares about the topic that work needs to be done. If nothing happens after a few months then the section can be deleted by any interested editor. SQGibbon (talk) 02:13, 26 December 2013 (UTC)
The thing is, it's not miscellaneous. It's a list of works featuring Christopher Marlowe. Most of the discussion about what to do with the section happened four years ago. That does not represent a current consensus. Sections can be deleted with current consensus. Span (talk) 12:06, 26 December 2013 (UTC)
"Miscellaneous" does not have to mean the content but it can also mean how it's presented. And while the discussions started four years ago you can see that it continued as recently as four months ago. And in any case I'm not sure I see your point. We need to avoid a list like in the current version. It would be nice to have a discussion in the article about works featuring Marlowe. Hopefully some interested party will take up that challenge, thus the reason for the tag. If this doesn't happen then the section should be removed. SQGibbon (talk) 14:26, 26 December 2013 (UTC)
We don't have a consensus. Moderate, relevant book lists feature in many WP biographies. I don't see a problem if we can agree criteria. Span (talk) 14:24, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

I see nothing wrong with there being a section "Fictional works about Marlowe", nor that it lists them in chronological order as now. However, my suggested criteria for inclusion would be that each item should be mainly about Christopher Marlowe, and that reasons for it being considered sufficiently notable should be included. If these reasons were shown in the text itself, rather than as a footnote, it might also discourage the addition of less suitable items. Something like this?


  1. ^ Nicholl, Charles (2006). "The case for Marlowe", in Wells, Stanley and Edmondson, Paul (eds.) Shakespeare Beyond Doubt. Cambridge University Press, pp.30–32.
  2. ^ The Christopher Marlowe Mysteries at BBC

Peter Farey (talk) 07:23, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

I agree. Works fully about Marlowe are fine, I would say. I suspect this is about the scholarship/anti-scholarship cadres. I don't think listing works about Marlowe harms the intellectual standing of the page. "Sections like this are like cancer. If you leave a little it just encourages everybody to put their favorite little factoid in it and it metastasizes. It is better to remove the cancer in its entirety." So says Ekwos, above. I don't agree; not if the article is properly maintained and ref'd and you have a clear criteria. Span (talk) 23:30, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

Ingram Frizer's position with Thomas Walsingham[edit]

Dear "Old Moonraker", I note that concerning the Frizer/Walsingham relationship you have modified the point to give better support for what was said originally. Your amendment reads "and Frizer was manager of Thomas Walsingham's business affairs and occasional intermediary with his intelligence agents.(Note: Honan (2005: 325; 346): "at Scadbury…[s]o far as we know, Ingram Frizer saved his master from any trouble in entertaining secret agents…".)

My objection to this is that the first bit is nothing more than speculation based upon two of Hotson's discoveries: (1) that in connection with the Drew Woodleff case Frizer later described Walsingham as having been "his then Maister" who was the "gentleman of worship" mentioned in the case, and (2) that in 1603 he had some close financial connection with Walsingham's wife Audrey. From this we get Nicholl's "Frizer was ... employed by the Walsinghams (sic) as a financial agent", Kuriyama's "a trusted servant named Ingram Frizer", and Park Honan's "that he became the business agent of Walsingham's wife." Biographer's licence?

As for the second bit, I'm afraid that Honan's "at Scadbury…[s]o far as we know, Ingram Frizer saved his master from any trouble in entertaining secret agents…" is certainly not the statement of fact that we imply, and Vaughan's saying that Frizer invited Marlowe to Deptford "for a feast" is certainly inadequate support for such a claim.

It is sufficient for the argument being presented at this point in the article for it to be acknowledged that Frizer said that in 1593 Thomas Walsingham was his master - no more, no less. I have therefore amended this bit to read "and Frizer would later describe Thomas Walsingham as his master at that time. (Note: Hotson, Leslie, The Death of Christopher Marlowe (1925) p.65)"

That this amendment finally brings into the article a mention of Hotson's seminal book The Death of Christopher Marlowe (quite extraordinarily unmentioned in it so far) is also long overdue! Peter Farey (talk) 14:41, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

My point is that as these reliable sources—for Wikipedia purposes they meet WP:V—have made the statements it's not up to us to gainsay them, whether they are making full use of biographers' license or not. Indeed it might be WP:NOR to suggest they mean something else, unless another authority can be quoted to challenge them. My concern is that Frizer is generally dismissed as Walsingham's "servant", but this doesn't cover the relationship adequately; we need to give full weight to Frizer's interest in the Walsinghams' business affairs. The point should remain.
I can, however, see your difficulty about interpreting Honan's "Ingram Frizer saved his master from any trouble in entertaining secret agents". It could mean that he resolutely turned any such revenants away from the gates of Scadbury, except that, as you point out, it here has the context of entertaining Poley and Marlowe away from the house. As another meaning is possible, relying on it alone to call him "an intermediary" may be inadequate and this could remain deleted unless and until it receives support from a further source.
--Old Moonraker (talk) 16:12, 19 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I do see your point about Frizer having a rather more important role with Thomas Walsingham that the simple statement that TW was his "then Maister" might imply. What concerned me was the apparent certainty of "and Frizer was manager of Thomas Walsingham's business affairs." Just glancing through the various biographies I have to hand, I find only one which refers to Frizer as the Walsinghams' "financial agent" (Nicholl) and one as his "business agent" (Honan), neither of them presents any evidence for saying this, however, other than the 1603 relationship with Walsingham's wife Audrey. In contrast, neither Hotson (1925) nor Boas (1940) nor Urry (1988) nor Kuryama (2002) nor Riggs (2004) make any such claim, but stick instead to the master/servant of the actual evidence. So how about "and Frizer would later describe Thomas Walsingham as his "master" at that time(ref: Hotson, Leslie, The Death of Christopher Marlowe (1925) p.65), 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.(ref: Park Honan, Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy, 2005, p.325)"? Peter Farey (talk) 10:49, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
That would cover it. --Old Moonraker (talk) 13:34, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
Afterthought: most (Hotson, Nicholl, Kuryama) do include the fact that Walsingham was the beneficiary when and if Frizer's victim Drew Woodleff defaulted on his bond. --Old Moonraker (talk) 15:36, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
The statement I objected to was "and Frizer was manager of Thomas Walsingham's business affairs". Does the piece of evidence described here suggest anything more than that Frizer involved Walsingham (whether knowingly or not) in the Woodleff scam? I'm sorry, but all we know about Frizer and Walsingham in this context is that Frizer just happened to appear (wouldn't you know it?) on the scene just when Walsingham was due to inherit Scadbury etc., but was temporarily (to the extent that he was imprisoned for debt) strapped for cash. That Frizer had some financial hold over Walsingham at the time seems quite likely; that he was therefore "manager of Thomas Walsingham's business affairs" is not. Peter Farey (talk) 16:25, 20 May 2011 (UTC):
The present wording will certainly do; "manager", as opposed to the current "agent", was too strong. --Old Moonraker (talk) 16:47, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

On bail[edit]

It's not the lack of a record of Marlowe's attendance before the Privy Council on 20 May 1593 that necessitated his bail: that's nonsense. I would adjust the wording, except some recent biographers have specified how he was examined, possibly as a witness rather than to "answer such matters as may be objected against him"—the usual formula used against suspects—on 20 May (Kuriyama). This was possibly held at Nonsuch Palace. Once again, we can't just sweep aside what the sources tell us. At present the statement in the article that there were no meetings is without a reference. --Old Moonraker (talk) 22:22, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

[Interpose] Yep, that was the wording that needed a tweak: thanks. --Old Moonraker (talk) 16:22, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't really understand your first point. If there were no Privy Council meeting on 20 May he would certainly have to keep coming back until there was one. For your own information, by the way, the document says nothing at all about bail being posted either, but I do reluctantly accept that the reliable sources policy compels us to ignore this rather important fact! Peter Farey (talk) 11:35, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
P.S. One short sentence of yours did attract my attention. It is the one which, even if not deliberately, implied that the following was Kuriyama's point: "This was possibly held at Nonsuch Palace." Since she quite clearly (along with Urry, Nicholl and Riggs) thought that the court was at Greenwich at the time, I wondered which source, whether reliable or not, you had depended upon for this information? :o) Peter Farey (talk) 12:37, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the fix. The source for "Nonsuch Palace" is The Life & Complete Works Of Christopher Marlowe, M. G. Scarsbrook, ISBN 9781458053411, introductory material. This can't be regarded as a mainstream work and I would hesitate before relying on it in the mainspace. Looking back, I cut Scarsbrook leaving only the accidental juxtaposition to Kuriyama you noticed. --Old Moonraker (talk) 13:21, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the honesty! In fact the not-too-subtle point I was attempting to make was that no "reliable source" placed it at Nonsuch before Park Honan, and that there is nothing to stop us continuing to insist that it was at Greenwich because all (or even just one) of those other reliable sources said so. That Park Honan finally got it right (five years before Scarsbrook?) is because he read my essay "Marlowe's Sudden and Fearful End" in which I had explained how the anti-Stratfordian William Honey pointed this out as long ago as 1983! Park also cites me as a source (and therefore presumably reliable?) for other comments of his (p.354). So are we to assume that my report of what is contained in the records of the Privy Council (available to anyone who cares to check) cannot be accepted until someone like Park reads what I have said and reports it as a fact? Peter Farey (talk) 14:31, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
Not at all: if I can get on the rattler to Kew and look it up for myself it's perfectly acceptable. More on this at WP:SOURCEACCESS. --Old Moonraker (talk) 14:55, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

"Shakespeare as Marlowe?'[edit]

This notion is too ridiculous to be countenanced. If Shakespeare used Marlowe as a nom de guerre and then faked his own death in the guise of another man, he is an even greater genius than that which he is proclaimed!

Since nobody has ever suggested such a combination as far as I know, and this is not what is said in the article anyway, I fail to see what relevance your point has to what is written there. Incidentally, it would be helpful if, when editing talk pages, you would sign off with four tyldes (~), which produces something like this: Peter Farey (talk) 07:03, 22 November 2012 (UTC)


@Artimaean: This addition of names intrigues me and is in need of some explanation. Maybe Goethe is OK because his Faust came after Marlowe's, yet Marlowe gets no mention at all in WP's Goethe's Faust. But what's so special about Hart Crane to make him the only listed "Marlowe-influenced" English-language writer post-Shakespeare? Virgil counts as an influencer, of course, because of Dido and Aeneas, but maybe we should also be listing Horace, Lucretius, Seneca and others. Where do we stop? How do we justify inclusion in these problematic lists?! Cheers, Bjenks (talk) 07:22, 23 April 2013 (UTC)

Window in Poets' Corner[edit]

I don't think this section should be too long, otherwise someone will say we are giving it undue weight. I can't understand why Peter Farey wishes to cut the text of 'Shakespeare bites back' from the source, it's not in the main text, nobody has to read it, and if it is Wells being critical of the Marlowe Society so be it. It's not misrepresenting Wells and Edmondson in any way. Also can we not have a reference to the date of the Times letter? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sceptic1954 (talkcontribs) 09:39, 25 June 2013 (UTC) Peter, Thanks for dating the letter but surely the source make clear if and that it is quoting the letter. Do you have a text of the letter? I'm sorry I am not in Britain otherwise I could access it online through my local library.Sceptic1954 (talk) 10:22, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

My reason for wanting to cut the extract from Shakespeare Bites Back is partly explained in your first sentence. Also, as I pointed out on my talk page, the article now includes the relevant quotation and I see no reason for repeating it, given that the rest of the extract adds nothing but polemic to what has already been covered. Peter Farey (talk) 11:09, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
The text of the letter is on page 278 of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt. Peter Farey (talk) 11:12, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Arrest and death[edit]

I have for some time been uncomfortable with this section, particularly the five "reasons" said to be why "Marlowe's death is alleged by some to be an assassination". The list itself, entirely without citations, first appeared as an edit by an anonymous IP back in 2005. Since then it has been tinkered with, by me among others, and RS support for bits of it eventually found (even if it meant going back to the late 1920s for two of them and a Shakespeare biography for one of the two others!). What nobody has done is to challenge the list itself, which frankly does not really represent the reasons actually given by biographers and others for their doubts.

As far as I can see, doubts about Danby's report have concerned:

  • the description of the struggle itself
  • that instant death would have arisen from such an injury
  • the untrustworthiness of the witnesses
  • an alleged reason for any of them, or for someone they 'represented', wanting him dead
  • the apparent illegality of the inquest.

Before embarking on such a rewrite, however, I would welcome some comments. Peter Farey (talk) 13:42, 19 August 2013 (UTC)


We have a welcome contribution by jadescent towards a statement of the textual controversy--one which will be even more welcome when supported by its sources. I recall that one of the extant scripts of Doctor Faustus is much longer than the other. I was taught that it may have been retrospectively assembled from, inter alia, the memories of actors, and may thus have included some audience-pleasing 'extempore' additions. Censorship (or, shall we say, interpolation) is a notorious problem with every hand-copied document, especially religious matter, but we must try to go beyond mere assertion in explicating such variations. Bjenks (talk) 01:00, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

I will try find some time to insert references. If anyone else wants to jump on them, the source I was using was David Scott Kastan's introduction in the Norton edition of Doctor Faustus. Jadescent (talk) 04:17, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Fictional works about Marlowe[edit]

I see that Louise Welsh's Tamburlaine Must Die has reappeared on the list, this time to be joined by David Lawrence Young's Marlowe: Soul'd To The Devil. On 30 December 2013 I suggested that the criteria for including an item on this list be "that each item should be mainly about Christopher Marlowe, and that reasons for it being considered sufficiently notable should be included." I also showed a suggested list, employing these criteria. By 11 January there had been one person who agreed and nobody who had disagreed, so I changed the section accordingly. Despite being mainly about Marlowe, Louse Welsh's novel had been removed, there being no "reasons for it being considered sufficiently notable" in its description. David Lawrence Young's book is clearly also mainly about Marlowe, and may be a very fine novel, but again there is no indication in the edit as to why it is at all notable. I would therefore suggest that either such an indication be added in each case or, if not, the item be deleted. Peter Farey (talk) 08:01, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

Young's book has been added by an IP. The same IP has added external links to various other books by the same author to many articles [2]. I (and others) removed most of them as linkspam but left this one alone in place, simply because it was part of a list of books. I have no reason to believe it is at all notable, but in this case there is the basic question of whether the list here should err on the side of inclusivity, given that there are so few books about Marlowe, or whether it should be selective. If someone thinks Welsh's Tamburlaine Must Die is non-notable, they should nominate the page on it for deletion. I think it's rather more notable than Ross Barber's unreadable verse novel! Paul B (talk) 09:32, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Paul, you appear to be unaware of the lengthy discussions which have taken place here about this section, which was in danger of simply growing, as one editor said, like a cancer. (See "In fiction" section above for the latest). There were those who wanted simply to delete the whole thing, and others who thought it should remain, but improved – by being either rewritten as a discussion, i.e. not as a list, or drastically pruned with fairly clear criteria as to what would be added in future. I had thought that the criteria and deletions I suggested were acceptable, with the requirement for anyone suggesting an additional item to include in their edit the reason why they deemed it notable enough. Inclusivity, as you put it, was something which nobody appeared to want.
In view of what you say I will delete Young's book and simply ask you to edit the Louise Welsh one to indicate what makes it notable, as I did with Ros (not Ross, it's short for Rosalind) Barber's book. Sorry you found it unreadable. Clearly the judges of the prizes mentioned (plus Hilary Mantel, Fay Weldon and Park Honan) all disagreed with you! Peter Farey (talk) 12:05, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
I got about half way through it. I found the verse slack and the story dull. Andrew Motion had my view of it. I should add that I really wanted to like it. I'd been looking forward to a verse "Epic". The last one I read was Love's Martyr, which was pretty hard going. I have no idea what you mean by "edit the Louise Welsh one to indicate what makes it notable". It would be child's play to to add a link to a review, but what exactly would that prove? Paul B (talk) 12:26, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
The first question – if we are to have such a list – is what the criteria for inclusion ought to be. That it ought to be mainly about Marlowe is I think generally accepted (so, for example, no Shakespeare in Love). But is this enough? Despite what you say, there are plenty of fictional works mainly about Marlowe and more appearing all the time, so I don't think it is. We need another filter, and the obvious one for a Wikipedia article would be notability. I have suggested that people wanting to add to the list should include some evidence of this. The present list (other than the Louise Welsh item) illustrates the sort of things I had in mind. We could then simply delete any which don't have such an indication (with an explanation for the editor adding it of why we did) or, if it does, have a discussion here as to whether the reason is thought to be good enough. My own opinion would be that good reviews (which would apply to Rodney Bolt's History Play, for example) probably wouldn't be enough. But that's just my opinion. Peter Farey (talk) 13:25, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
In fact such sections, ideally, should never be in the form of lists. They should be a proper section, discussing the changing representation of Marlowe. The only problem is that it's difficult not to stray into SYN on that, at least when adding material that is notable, but which has not been discussed in RS in terms of the representation of Marlowe (though reviews will inevitably comment on that to some extent). The link to the page on the novel itself provides the evidence of notability, as I implied in my first response. Paul B (talk) 13:31, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
The problem was that nobody felt sufficiently au fait with the subject to be able to rewrite it as a proper section. Meanwhile, I'm afraid that your implication was a little too subtle for me! But really, are we to take the fact that a piece of work has a Wikipedia entry as a sufficient indication of its notability? Personally, I see nothing in the Tamburlaine Must Die piece (especially since you added the Guardian's remark today!) to suggest why it deserves an article of its own, rather than simply being included in the Louise Welsh article. A far more notable book – The Reckoning, by Charles Nicholl – has no article of its own. Or is it simply enough that the author has a Wikipedia article of their own? Must any work by Roger Stritmatter be considered notable?
The main question, of course, is whether you are prepared to go along with my suggested criteria? If not, where do you think we should go from here? Peter Farey (talk) 14:46, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Notability is not the same as quality. The Tay Bridge Disaster is a notable poem. I don't really follow what you mean with regard to Roger. I don't think he should ever have had a page, but Tom decided to create one and I'm not going to nominate it for deletion. The fact that he has a page does not mean everything he did is worthy of one too, that's true even for slightly more famous persons. But the Tamburlaine novel was very widely reviewed and made into a stage play. That looks pretty notable to me. Paul B (talk) 15:02, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Excellent! Assuming that you do agree with those criteria, we seem to be getting somewhere. That the author has a Wikipedia entry isn't sufficient to ensure that anything they wrote is notable enough. (What makes Anthony Burgess's works notable has nothing to do with Wikipedia!). What we need to look at is whether there is any evidence presented that the work itself is notable. That it was turned into a play wouldn't be enough for me. Look at the other items on the list. One was given a showing on Broadway, one was used by the BBC, and the other by the RSC at Stratford. According to the novella's article, the footballer Kenny Miller turned it into a play, which was performed by The Tron Theatre Company in Glasgow. I dunno. Does that make it notable? As for the reviews, although I'm not sure how relevant such things are, if there are any positive ones to be found they seem to be very much in the minority. Don't get me wrong, I wiil be perfectly happy to agree to this novella's inclusion if this can be justified in some way in the article's text, with citations as appropriate. Peter Farey (talk) 16:14, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
I still have no idea what kind of "citations" you want. And the footballer comment is really a cheap shot. That's just someone linking a name without checking where it goes. Happens all the time. Paul B (talk) 17:26, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

I agree with the criteria that inclusions should be "mainly about Marlowe". The whole "is it notable" discussion seems to be very woolly and subjective as we have here no definition of what 'notable' means. It certainly doesn't meant that a subject has its own WP article as that is determined mostly by an editor's whim to write an one. If there are too many works of fiction mainly about Marlowe (which I doubt) then create a new article for a list. I think the 'notable' question is a red herring. Have clear criteria and have done or else we will be returning to this argument for more years to come. Anna (talk) 16:37, 27 February 2014 (UTC) (Span, as was, above)

Of course all sorts of things have their own article that probably shouldn't, but this book has been listed in the Marlowe template since it was created in 2011, and the article on it has existed since 2008, with no hint that anyone thought it to be non-notable, so it seems frankly silly to exclude it from a list but have it as a stand-alone article and in a template. I find Peter's criteria to be confusing. And why on earth does he refer to theatre director Dan Miller as a "footballer"? Is that a joke? The book was very widely reviewed, was dramatised and the author is well-known. There are numerous good reviews [3] [4] (obviously the latter webpage is a choice of laudatory bits, but still the praise is not insignificant). It was even a BBC "Book at Bedtime" [5] I really doubt that there can be "clear" criteria. That's truly a red herring. Paul B (talk) 17:02, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Well, if we simply use the criterion that it is mainly about Marlowe, we should perhaps include almost all of the following (several of which have featured in the list at times in the past) in addition to those already listed:
Philip Lindsay (1932) One Dagger for Two (novel)
Robert de Maria (1976) To be a King: A novel about Christopher Marlowe.
Herbert Lom (1978) Enter a Spy: the double life of Christopher Marlowe (novel).
Lee Wichelns (1987) The Shadow of the Earth: an historical novel based on the life of Christopher Marlowe.
Francis Hamit (1988) Marlowe: An Elizabethan Tragedy (screenplay)
George Garrett (1990) Entered from the Sun. (novel).
William Bankier (1992) Death of a Noverint (short story).
Robin Chapman (1993) Christoferus or Tom Kyd's Revenge (novel).
Liam Maguire (1993) Icarus Flying: the tragical story of Christopher Marlowe (novel).
Judith Cook (1993) The Slicing Edge of Death: who killed Christopher Marlowe? (novel).
Howard Waldrop (1997) Heart of Whitenesse (novelette).
Dave Hoing (2000) The Onely Shake-Scene in a Countrey (short story).
David Grimm (2001) Kit Marlowe (play).
Charles Marowitz (2002) Murdering Marlowe (play).
Rodney Bolt (2004) History Play: the lives and afterlife of Christopher Marlowe (biography pastiche).
Leslie Silbert (2004) The Intelligencer (novel).
Harlan Didrickson (2005) Marlowe (play).
Allison McWood (2006) It was Kit: the 'true' story of Christopher Marlowe (play).
David Lawrence-Young (2010) Marlowe: Soul'd to the Devil (novel).
Michael Butt (2010) The Killing (radio play).
If we continue with the criteria I suggested, however, all we need to do is to add something about Louise Welsh's novel having been selected for BBC Radio's Book at Bedtime in 2006, which is just the sort of thing I had in mind. The Killing should probably also be there for a similar reason.
As for my reference to the footballer, that's what the page I was directed to (Tamburlaine Must Die) actually said, and I'm afraid I didn't know any better! Peter Farey (talk) 07:53, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
I suggest a separate article for the fictional works. Anna (talk) 14:53, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
When you say "a separate article", are you thinking of anything more than a straight list like the one above, but with slightly more information, or a genuine article about the treatment of Marlowe in fiction? In the past, nobody has felt knowledgable enough to undertake the latter. And personally I see no useful purpose being served by the former. Meanwhile, red herring or not, we have an interesting test of my "notability" criterion with the latest (poorly edited) addition. I would say that a play which has apparently had just one public performance (under equity waiver) and which is only in preproduction as a motion picture really shouldn't be included. Peter Farey (talk) 09:40, 1 March 2014 (UTC)

Whenever y'all decide what criteria to use, you may or may not want to include "This Tragic Glass" by Elizabeth Bear; it first appeared on SCI FICTION in April 2004, and was reprinted in Bear's collection The Chains that You Refuse. Time-traveling scholars are rescuing great poets etc. just before their deaths and replacing them with faked corpses; they make a startling discovery about Marlowe. --Jim Henry (talk) 13:06, 2 November 2014 (UTC)

Having just watched Only Lovers Left Alive on the box, I see no reason for including the film among the fictional works we list here. John Hurt (as Kit Marlowe, now a vampire) appears on screen for no more than ten minutes, and his character gets mentioned on only two or three occasions at other times. I have also been waiting to see if Heathcote Williams's Killing Kit managed to achieve any more recognition than its original two 'staged readings', but it doesn't appear to have done. I have therefore removed them both. Peter Farey (talk) 12:22, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

I question whether "notability" in the context of a fictional work about a historical figure is a clear concept, this is a can of worms in relation to a lot of articles. The author Philip Lindsay is notable, at the very least by having an article which nobody is proposing to delete. See WP:NOTABILITY. PatGallacher (talk) 15:56, 30 December 2015 (UTC)

In this context, notability of an author is surely irrelevant. The criterion is surely whether a citation adds to our knowledge of the subject—in this case Marlowe. An author's gratuitous imaginings about Marlowe are generally not helpful to the article. Bjenks (talk) 01:55, 31 December 2015 (UTC)
Eh? If these are the criteria for inclusion I'm not sure how many fictional works would be listed in articles about historical figures. A lot of historical novels contain "gratuitous imaginings". PatGallacher (talk) 15:25, 31 December 2015 (UTC)

Usually those "imaginings" are what makes a work of fiction worth noting. Fiction adds to our knowledge of how has a subject been perceived by a wider culture and audience, and how he/she/it is remembered at all. If this fiction simply repeats what it found on a history book, it is simply a non-notable reiteration of what it is known. Hardly worth mentioning at all. Dimadick (talk) 17:55, 5 January 2016 (UTC)

I say again that notability of the source and/or its author are not necessarily relevant. What's relevant is whether it adds to our knowledge of Marlowe. If Charles Dickens had written about a pet cat named Christopher Marlowe, the work would undoubtedly be notable but not at all relevant to this article.Bjenks (talk) 23:46, 5 January 2016 (UTC)

Bias at work in the 'sexuality' section[edit]

My edit for clarity and fairness of 03:30, 4 May 2016‎, was reverted for no reason by a user who upon his page advertises being in a homosexual marriage. The edit is called "subjective" by this user, but I will leave it to this community to determine who is trying to push an agenda here. With objectivity it has naught to do, the section is obviously being 'policed' by this user to make sure that Marlowe appears like an homosexual. I care not for the sexual preference of the author, but I resent biased articles that attempt to manipulate the facts by weasley wording and exposition and ordering of evidence, which is clearly the case. I appeal to the restoration of objectivity. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:02, 17 May 2016 (UTC)

As the editor being accused of pushing an agenda, I will say that I proffered the edit summary "Large subjective change requires prior discussion, pls". Not really for no reason. Further, since my user page has been maliciously misquoted, I reject all the IP editor's charges. I have been in a happy and normal hetero marriage for 37 years! On one thing I agree—I will leave it to this community to determine who is trying to push an agenda here. Bjenks (talk) 05:17, 17 May 2016 (UTC)

Removal of statement about Henry VI[edit]

I removed the following statement since only one source is given and it cannot be accessed. If someone can provide proper citation (title, author, etc.) and ideally a footnote quote from the source, please do so. REMOVED TEXT: Theorists are also investigating the possibility of Marlowe's co-authorship with Shakespeare for Henry VI. A team of literarians researched word and phrase patterns and used different software to compare the work of the two men. They found a list of men who had prominent writing style but Shakespeare and Marlowe's style stuck out the most.[1]Henry chianski (talk) 20:13, 5 December 2017 (UTC)

This was in the news last year when the New Oxford Edition officially credited Marlowe as co-author. There seem to be many sources; I'll wait for a more experienced Shakespeare editor to weigh in, but I believe Marlowe's likely co-authorship of Henry VI certainly merits inclusion. Thomas Craven (talk) 20:47, 5 December 2017 (UTC)
And I see that his co-authorship is mentioned and doubly-cited in the main article itself. I'm not sure I understand the issue with the citation, but I think it's more of an issue of "update the tense and elaborate on the co-authorship case" than any dubious citation? Thomas Craven (talk) 20:55, 5 December 2017 (UTC)
Yes, the fact that New Oxford credits him as co-author is mentioned earlier (in fact I think I'm the one who added that). However, the above (removed) statement was in the "As Shakespeare" section — so it's redundant and misleading (co-author vs the idea that Marlowe was Shakespeare). My problem with the source here is that it requires login to access, which would be fine IF the editor had provided any information about the source (journal? title? author? date?). On the whole I think this statement is not relevant to the "As Shakespeare" section at all. — Henry chianski (talk) 18:56, 6 December 2017 (UTC)
Understood - I see your point and agree entirely, now that I have the lay of both this article and the linked Marlovian_theory_of_Shakespeare_authorship. I don't think I would have weighed in at all if I hadn't stumbled on the edit the same day I heard the relevant section in the audio version of Bryson's Shakespeare, making my knowledge on the subject as current as it will ever be. Thanks for the edit and the stewardship of the article. Thomas Craven (talk) 19:29, 6 December 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^ "UWin CAS – Central Authentication Service". Retrieved 2017-12-05.

In fiction, again[edit]

I'm thinking of making this section a separate article, to be summarized/linked here (like for example Nephilim#Popular_culture). There's no lack of sources, but IMO it's to big. Objections? Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 09:02, 26 July 2018 (UTC)

Done. Feel free to edit, but please, with good sources (IMO a Publishers Weekly review is good enough, but not goodreads or amazon). Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 18:24, 30 July 2018 (UTC)

Marlowe portrait[edit]

Feel free to improve. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 14:20, 8 August 2019 (UTC)