In The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection: A New Study of the Authorship Question, Samuel Blumenfeld lays out the genius of Christopher Marlowe at an early age. Get this. Between the ages of 8-14, Marlowe probably toured the European continent as a page to Philip Sidney, nephew of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester (a close advisor to Queen Elizabeth). At 14, Marlowe entered the King's School on scholarship. At 17, also on scholarship, he entered Cambridge's Corpus Christi College as a divinity student. At 20, he earned his BA degree and was recruited into Her Majesty's Secret Service, which stationed him at the English Catholic seminary of Rheims to gather intelligence on a possible plot against the protestant Queen Elizabeth. By 1585, at 21, he had already translated from the Latin Ovid's Elegies and the first book of Lucan's Pharsalia and had composed his first play, Dido, Queen of Carthage. He was awarded his MA degree at 23. In 1588, at 24, Marlowe's Tamburlaine the Great and its sequel were produced on the London stage, both to great acclaim.
Not too shabby.
© The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection, June 2008
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