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From The Writer’s Almanac:

Playwright Christopher Marlowe (books by this author) was baptized in Canterbury, England, on this date in 1564. The son of a shoemaker, he was so intellectually gifted that he was accepted into Cambridge on a scholarship meant for men entering the clergy. He chose to write plays rather than pursue holy orders, and he was frequently absent, possibly because he was spying for Queen Elizabeth I, an occupation he may have held until the end of his life. He may have been posing as a Catholic to gather intelligence on any plots against the Protestant queen; he was almost denied his diploma because it was rumored he had converted to Roman Catholicism, and he was only granted his degree after the queen’s Privy Council intervened on his behalf.

Marlowe was one of the bad boys of the Renaissance. We don’t know too much about him — even less than we know about Shakespeare, which isn’t much — but his plays reveal an author who was cynical about nearly everything: religion, society, and politics. He was most likely gay and an atheist in a time when it was very dangerous to be either, let alone both. But he was also a brilliant poet and dramatist, breaking away from the traditional dramatic form of rhymed couplets to work in blank verse, and inspiring Shakespeare to do the same. One of the plays he wrote while at Cambridge was Tamburlaine the Great, and it was produced in London in 1587. It did well enough that he wrote a sequel; these were the only of Marlowe’s plays produced before his untimely death at 29, when he was stabbed in a dispute over a tavern bill. Marlowe also wrote Doctor Faustus, The Jew of Malta, Edward II, and The Massacre at Paris.


  1. Cubeland Mystic says:

    I read Dr. Faustus in Lit in college. I had a super duper prof who was kind of a national figure in that era of English Lit. It was a great class. Michael Wood has a good documentary on WS, and Marlow was featured predominately in one of the episodes.

    Marlowe was a big influence on my Korrektiv play “The Tragedie of MacKona” It’s going to be performed in its entirety at the Globe this summer BTW.

  2. Hello.

    ‘The Tragedie of MacKona’ makes me think of the expression ‘the tragedy of the commons’ every time I hear it. People deplete people too.

    I read the first half of Dr Faustus when I was living, briefly, in one room in west London, where you could hear the traffic from the motorway but the sunsets were beautiful.

  3. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says:

    ‘The San Diegan play’, please.

  4. Cubeland Mystic says:

    That was deep inside baseball Angelico.

  5. I hate the media, and the English.

  6. And there was another group of people I hated, but my memory is poor at the moment because of the pills I’m taking.

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