Friday, 26 February 2010

On this day...














English playwright Christopher Marlowe, was baptised in 1564. Although the exact dates of neither man's birth is known, Marlowe arrived just two months before his great contemporary and rival, William Shakespeare. Gaining his place on a scholarship, Marlowe was educated at Cambridge and received his degree in 1584. However, three years later, when Marlowe was due to receive his Masters, the university under the impression of a Catholic conversion, hesitated to award it to him, resulting in an intevention by the crown. His 'good service' and 'faithful dealing' to the Queen has led to much subsequent speculation, some even suspecting him of being a secret agent in Sir Francis Walsingham's intelligence service.

Marlowe's literary career began at much the same time. 'Tamburlaine', Marlowe's first major work, is one of the first English plays to have been written in blank verse, and is considered by many, alongside Thomas Kyd's 'The Spainish Tragedy', to be the beginning of mature Elizabethan drama. Numerous succesful works followed, including, 'The Jew of Malta', 'The Massacre at Paris' and 'The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus'. Yet it is, perhaps, Marlowe's death which has aroused most interest for scholars over the years. On May 30th 1593, Marlowe was stabbed in a Deptford inn. Quite why this happened, no one is sure. Some speculate it was a row over the bill, others, that it was connected to his arrest only 10 days before. Regardless, Marlowe will go down in history as a true genius of his craft.

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