Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christopher Marlowe's Early Life: What If? by Samuel Blumenfeld

In writing The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection, I faced all of the same problems that other biographers of Marlowe have faced. Constance Brown Kuriyama summed up the problem very nicely in the Introduction to her biography, Christopher Marlowe: A Renaissance Life, published in 2002: “Although biography is technically nonfiction, all life-writing is an amalgam of fact and interpretation, logical inference and speculation, truth and myth.”

And this is certainly true when it comes to Marlowe. For example, we all know of Shakespeare’s supposed “lost years,” which biographers have tried to fill with as much fictional nonsense as possible. Apparently there seems to be a similar blank period in Marlowe’s early life – the period from 1572, when Marlowe was 8, and 1578, when at age of 14 he entered the King’s School. What was he doing during those six years? And why didn’t he enter the King’s School at the age of 9, when that was possible? What was he doing for those five years that made him wait until the final deadline for entering the King’s School at age 14?

The standard biographies of Marlowe start with his birth in Canterbury in 1564 and some known facts about his family that William Urry was able to gather through his intensive research in Canterbury’s archives. But little is known about Marlowe’s childhood until he enters the King’s School at age 14, for which there is adequate documentary evidence.

So we have no choice but to engage in a bit of speculation. I believe that young Christopher, who would become the greatest dramatist in all of human history, was a child prodigy and exhibited his high intelligence and linguistic genius at an early age. We all know of child prodigies. Today you can see such musical prodigies performing on YouTube. But we don‘t know how child geniuses were treated back in 16th-century England, particularly if the little genius came from a common family. It is also likely that Christopher's father, John Marlowe, a cobbler, recognized his son’s precocity and did not expect him to follow in his footsteps. His son was meant for better things.

Where did Christopher get his primary education? In 1569, when the future poet was five years old, Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, founded a new school at Eastridge Hospital for the education of poor children at no charge. Kuriyama writes: “The school opened its doors to twenty poor children at about the time Christopher was ready to begin his education, offering instruction in reading, writing, and singing.”

If young Christopher Marlowe was indeed a child prodigy, we can assume that the Archbishop would have readily recognized the precocious talents of young Christopher and been amazed at how quickly he learned the fundamentals of English literacy. Also, in 1572, the Archbishop may have been asked by his good friend Lord Burghley if he knew of a youngster who might make a good page to a young nobleman about to embark on a two-year tour of the Continent, and the Archbishop may immediately have thought of young Marlowe who had just turned 8, the appropriate age when boys became pages.

I have found no factual evidence that such an exchange took place. This is mere speculation on my part, and I made that clear in my biography. But it is speculation based more on possibility than probability. Young Marlowe had to be doing something between 1572 and 1578. He wasn’t at home playing video games, and he could have entered the King’s School in 1573. Why didn’t he?

Who was the young nobleman who needed a page? I believe it was Philip Sidney, who had gotten Queen Elizabeth’s permission to embark on a learning tour of the Continent where he would also make important political and literary contacts. And because John Marlowe was always having financial problems, the payment he might have received for the engagement of his son as a page, may have been welcome.

It was in 1572 that 18-year-old Philip Sidney was about to embark on his tour of the Continent. As a young member of the noble Sidney family of Penshurst Place in Kent, Sidney’s entourage consisted of three servants and four horses. Did Sidney’s chief servant need a page to do all of the mundane things that pages did: tend to the luggage, water the the horses, and go on errands of one sort or another? When a child reached the age of 8, he was qualified to be a page. And when he was as intelligent and gifted as young Christopher, he would have been chosen by an aristocrat for the job.

I have been told that a page from a common family would not have been hired by a nobleman. But could an exception have been made when a boy from a common family had uncommon gifts of intelligence and verbal skills? And so, I have speculated that the boy Christopher was engaged by Philip Sidney to be his chief servant’s helper.

And how would have Christopher come to the attention of Sidney? It is possible that Lord Burghley asked his friend, the Archbishop of Canterbury, if he knew of a boy at his school who could be a good page for Sidney. And is it not conceivable that he could have recommended Christopher?

This makes a very plausible story for which, as of yet, I have found no documentary proof. But in this biographical business, you never know what some literary researcher will discover in the future. For example, nothing was known of Marlowe’s involvement in a supposed counterfeiting scheme in Holland until a letter written by Robert Sidney to Lord Burghley in 1592 was discovered in 1976 by Professor Richard B. Wernham.

While an army of scholars has spent decades and tons of money scouring every archive in England to find evidence of Shakespeare’s life as a dramatist, very little has been spent by scholars digging up information about Marlowe. But so much that has been discovered so far has tended to corroborate the theory that Marlowe wrote the plays attributed to Shakespeare (or, better stated, has not disqualified Marlowe's authorship), as this blog has demonstrated since 2008.

In any case, there are several reasons why I believe my speculation makes sense. Becoming part of the Sidney entourage would have made young Marlowe acquainted with how the aristocracy lived and what their values were. Second, a tour of Europe with the Sidney entourage would have introduced Christopher to foreign lands and languages. They spent enough time in Italy so that the young page would have been able to quickly learn Italian.

Also, the Sidney party arrived in Paris just a few days before the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of the Huguenots on August 24, 1572. The Huguenot leadership had gathered in Paris to attend the marriage of Huguenot King Henry of Navarre and the Catholic Princess Marguerite de Valois. The marriage was supposed to bring the Protestants and Catholics together. However, Catherine de Medici, the Queen mother, saw this special occasion as a golden opportunity to destroy the Huguenot leadership in one fell swoop, and therefore she planned and ordered the massacre with help of the famous Duc de Guise.

Sir Francis Walsingham was Elizabeth’s ambassador in Paris, and Sidney and his entourage took refuge in the English embassy. The massacre would haunt Sidney and Walsingham for the rest of their lives – as well as (as I have speculated) the young page Christopher Marlowe, who in later years would write a play on the subject, Massacre at Paris.

From Paris, the Sidney party traveled to Germany, Austria, and Italy. On February 26, 1574 Sidney sat for his portrait by Paolo Veronese in Venice. In Padua, Philip took a house where he could study at the university. If young Christopher was among them, he had ample opportunity to learn Italian.

In March, 1575, Philip began his journey back to England. By then young Christopher, future literary genius, was eleven years old, and virtually everything he would have learned as a page would find itself in his future plays.

Back in England, young Marlowe may have remained in service to Sidney and lived with the family in London or at Penshurst. And it was there that he would have become acquainted with Philip’s sister, Mary Sidney. As Philip Sidney’s page, Christopher may have attended the great party that Sidney’s uncle, the Earl of Leicester, threw for Queen Elizabeth at his famous estate at Kenilworth in July 1575 during the Queen’s summer progress. The romantic gaieties, the ambrosial feasts, the ceremonious devotion to the Queen, the sparkling entertainments, the merrymaking, the idyllic twilight interludes with exquisite music and dance will all be found years later in a play called A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In February 1577, Sidney once more had the occasion to travel to the Continent. Elizabeth had ordered him to offer her condolences to the Empress Maria upon the death of her husband Maximilian II in Vienna. Among his suite were two of his closest friends, Edward Dyer and Fulke Greville. As ambassador of the Queen, his train was richly appointed.

After stops in Brussels and Heidelberg, the party reached Vienna in April 1577. Sidney paid his respects to Maximilian’s widow, the Empress Maria. He then proceeded to see if the projected league among the Protestant princes was possible. Part of his mission had been to study the new incumbents of thrones, to observe conditions in Germany and the Empire, and to report on the prospects of a league of the Protestant princes of Europe. But he found that disunity among the princes made such a league unlikely.

By June 10, 1577, Sidney and his entourage were back in England. Young Marlowe was 13 years old, and if he was to enter the King’s School at the deadline age of 14, he would have to leave Sidney's service (hypothetically) in less than a year. Marlowe obtained his scholarship on January 14, 1578/9 and began his studies in the Michaelmas term of 1578/9.

But if he had indeed spent the years 1572 to 1578 as Sidney’s page, he would have been able to bring to the King’s School an incredible experience and knowledge of foreign language and Continental geography and history. The young poet would have gotten to know some of the most important people in the aristocracy: Walsingham, Burghley, Leicester, Greville, Dyer, and Sidney’s sister Mary who had married Henry Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke in 1577.

Of course, this entire story is pure conjecture. However, I have found nothing in the biographies of all of the individuals involved that would have made this story impossible. While nowhere is the name Christopher Marlowe mentioned in the many letters Sidney wrote during his travels, it may be that a page was simply too unimportant to mention. Perhaps someday we may find among papers at Penshurst proof that John Marlowe was paid for the services of his son.

But if we cannot find proof that young Christopher was Sidney’s page, we shall still have to find out what he was doing from age 8 to 14 and why he didn’t enter the King’s School at age 9.

© Samuel Blumenfeld, 2011

Samuel Blumenfeld, a regular contributor to MSC, has authored more than ten books. His latest, The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection: A New Study of the Authorship Question, was published by McFarland. His writings have appeared in such diverse publications as Esquire, Reason, Education Digest, Vital Speeches of the Day, Boston, and many others.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Case for Marlowe - Made Simple by Anthony Kellett

Editor's Note: Anthony Kellett recently explained the case, regarding Marlowe’s disappearance, for those relatively new to the subject. From a transcription of that brief talk, I have produced this guide, both for those to whom it was originally aimed or for more experienced readers wishing to undertake a similar task.

Have you ever heard of a principle called Occam’s razor? Put simply, it says that the solution requiring the least number of assumptions or leaps-of-faith is probably the closest to the truth. Not “certainly,” by any means, but “probably.”

First, it’s fair to say that the “Shakespeare-style” of plays, in blank verse, was popularised by a man called Christopher Marlowe, who commenced his playwriting probably seven or eight years before anyone uttered the name “Shakespeare,” in this context. Bearing in mind that both men were born in 1564, whilst Marlowe was starting his writing career, roughly when he’s taking his master’s degree at Cambridge University, Shakespeare was in Stratford, his twins were being born and he was probably working in his father’s glove shop. I have to say “probably” because we simply don’t know.

One of the world’s leading Shakespearian scholars, Professor Stanley Wells (who believes the Stratford man wrote the works), said of Marlowe that if he and Shakespeare had stopped writing in 1593, and I quote: “We would now regard Marlowe as the greater dramatist. The achievement of Marlowe was greater than that of Shakespeare, by that age. Marlowe has a string of great plays: Faustus, Edward II, two parts of Tamburlaine, Jew of Malta; marvellous poem the ‘Hero and Leander,’ a lot of good translations as well.” Wells added the bit about translations because Marlowe made some of the first translations of Lucan and Ovid (supposedly Shakespeare’s favourite Latin poet) into English. Wells categorised Marlowe as “a very rapid developer” and Shakespeare as “a late developer.”

Now, there are a couple of things which are interesting about that summation of Marlowe. First, is that by 1593, the Shakespeare plays, which Wells believes existed, are Two Gentlemen of Verona, Taming of the Shrew, the three parts of Henry VI, Titus Andronicus and possibly Richard III. And yet, Wells still considers Marlowe’s the greater output, which gives you an idea of these plays’ quality. The second interesting thing is that even though many believe these few plays were all written and performed by 1593, no one (as far as we know) had ever mentioned a man called Shakespeare. If this is true, that Shakespeare was unknown, then any reasonable person in the audience would probably have believed them to be by the same author or authors (since they often collaborated on plays) as, say, Edward II or Doctor Faustus. I am simply going back to Occam’s razor here, as to what is most likely and requires least assumptions. It may not be true, but it is most likely.

Before I go any further, what you should also know about Marlowe is that he seems to have been a government agent, starting during his time at Cambridge. Apparently, he was involved in undercover work for Francis Walsingham. When Walsingham dies, Lord Burghley appears to have taken over “employment” of Marlowe. It is also worth you knowing that Marlowe’s patron and, it appears, good friend, was Thomas Walsingham, a young relative of Sir Francis.

Now, in April 1593, an entry appears in the Stationers register, a kind of copyright register, if you like, for a new poem called “Venus and Adonis.” There was no author mentioned, but it was a companion piece to Marlowe’s “Hero and Leander.” The problem is, Marlowe’s “Hero” was not published and wouldn’t be for another five years, and, at best, was only known to a few close friends. Most reputable scholars believe the author of “Venus and Adonis” must have been familiar with “Hero and Leander,” because of its style and a number of allusions it makes. In view of this, by Occam’s razor, again, and in the absence of further information, anyone would assume this was Marlowe’s work – unless one believes it was just a coincidence that someone else wrote a companion piece to “Hero and Leander,” without knowing it existed or what it contained? This is simply not probable.

Then, on May 20, 1593, Marlowe, staying with his friend Thomas Walsingham, has an arrest warrant served against him. It was probably the result of him being suspected of heresy, a capital offense. Strangely, Marlowe was not kept in prison, but was instructed to report, each day, until the Privy Council could see him. About three days later was possibly his first appearance before them, but he was still not imprisoned.

By the 28th of May, a report is completed into Marlowe’s heresy and was delivered to the Privy Council. Marlowe, it seemed, was in deep trouble. But, before he could be brought before the council again, Marlowe went to a meeting. He met with three men – two of whom worked as confidence tricksters for his friend and patron, Walsingham; the third, like Marlowe, was an intelligence agent. Without knowing anything more, it is difficult to imagine this was a chance encounter, but when you add the fact that they met, for eight hours, at a private house, owned by Eleanor Bull (a relative of the Queen’s closest attendant, Blanche Parry, a relative of Lord Burghley), situated near the docks at Deptford, it becomes extremely suspicious.

Burghley was one of the most powerful men in England. He would have known Marlowe was in deep trouble because he was a member of the Privy Council. So, with Marlowe probably facing an imminent death penalty, why would he meet three professional confidence tricksters and fraudsters, employed by Marlowe’s employer, and by his friend, in a Burghley-linked house near Deptford docks?

Yes, it could be to enable him to escape, or it could be to have Marlowe murdered. But really, if he wanted to murder Marlowe, why would Burghley arrange that in a house so connected to him; hire three tricksters, not murderers; and then why would they take eight hours to do it when a lone assassin could have done the deed in any dark alley in London or on a quiet lane near Walsingham’s country house, with little fuss? And why would Marlowe’s friend Walsingham get involved in that? Walsingham was still being lauded as Marlowe’s friend and patron, some five years later, by Marlowe’s literary friends. So, whilst the possibility still remains, it does not seem the logical conclusion and is almost completely nonsensical.

No, by Occam’s razor, again, if we have three professional deceivers, whom we must assume are friendly to Marlowe, his employer and his patron (unless we make unfounded assumptions that they weren’t), arranging to meet him for what might be the last time, before his arrest and subsequent execution; and they meet at a “safe-house” next to the sewer-infested Deptford docks (rather than Walsingham’s country estate, where three of the four, one assumes, would have regularly gathered anyway), the only sensible conclusion is that it was to arrange Marlowe’s escape – conveniently near the Thames and numerous ships.

The trouble is, if you just let Marlowe escape, then he will be known to be at large, and any Tom, Dick or Harry could be his downfall. Even worse, Marlowe’s capture could lead to problems for everyone else involved, which is just not feasible. So, the only viable solution was not merely an escape, but a faked death and new identity so that Marlowe would not be hunted.

This is Elizabethan England, not the dark ages. If you fake a death, first you need a body. There are several theories about this, not least is the disappearance of the body of a man executed nearby the previous day. His family was not told that his already delayed execution was to go ahead; it happened, strangely, late in the day, around 6pm, and without any notice. The family could never discover what happened to his body. Either way, whether you believe this version or another, it is not beyond the wit of man to assume that these powerful, connected people could provide a body.

Unfortunately, there is a bigger hurdle: the problem of the coroner. When someone was killed, the local coroner would be called to hold an inquest. This would be fatal to this plan. He would almost certainly spot any inconsistencies between the body’s physical appearance and the story explaining his death. The only solution would be to have control of the coroner, and the only coroner likely to be a candidate would be the Queen’s coroner, William Danby. He had jurisdiction over all deaths occurring within a 12-mile radius of the Queen’s court (wherever that was at the time). We know the Queen was at Nonesuch Palace on this day.

Now, which was the dock, as far as possible down the River Thames, but still within 12 miles of the Queen? It was Deptford. This solution may also answer another question requiring explanation. The question is, “Why did this deception (if that’s what it was) take place anywhere near London?” If the plan was to spirit Marlowe away, as quickly as possible, then why not go to Tilbury, or somewhere already well on the way to safety. One possible reason is the need to use the house of a trusted owner, but the fact that Danby would preside is far more essential. It also happens that Danby would have been responsible for the “missing body” of the prisoner, executed the previous evening. Is that not convenient?

So, what other problems remain? We supposedly have the body of England’s leading poet in our possession; so what happens if he, like Chaucer, gets paraded up to Westminster Abbey for burial in front of all his friends and relatives? Well, we just bury the body immediately, before they have a chance. What if they decide to dig him up? Well, we bury it in an unmarked grave. In fact, we throw him in a common grave (maybe the plague pit) and see if they want to go digging in there.

So that’s what happens; they take the body, purported to be “Marlowe,” and just dump England’s greatest playwright in a Deptford Churchyard pit, before anyone that might know him gets the chance to view the body. The only people that identified the body as Marlowe were the three men he met at Deptford. Doesn’t that sound a little strange to you? What would Thomas Walsingham, his friend and patron, think of that? More than that, what would he do when he discovers that his servant, Frizer, was the man who supposedly killed Marlowe? The answer? He did nothing. Frizer was pardoned and went back to working for Walsingham. Does this sound like the behaviour of a friend and patron? I can only understand that response if either, Walsingham wanted Marlowe dead (already acknowledged as highly unlikely), or he knew he was still alive. Which do you think is most likely, by Occam’s razor?

There are many questions that surround this, obviously, and it is very far from proved. Even amongst those that believe Marlowe survived, there are disagreements about who would or could have organised it – but that gets far more involved.

Now, if we leave that there, for the time being, and just put it down as “a bit fishy,” we then come back to this chap Shakespeare, of whom no one has ever heard, at this point.

Remember I mentioned that anonymously registered companion piece to Marlowe’s “Hero and Leander,” called “Venus and Adonis,” that would sensibly be thought to be by Marlowe? Well, less than two weeks after Marlowe’s disappearance, that piece gets published. Except that it appears as written by some chap called William Shakespeare, and he calls it “The first heir of my invention.” That is the first time Shakespeare’s name ever appears, anywhere, in connection with any writing, of any sort – at the ripe old age of 29, no less.

If this is written by the guy from Stratford, we have absolutely no idea how he got from that glover’s shop in Stratford, 7 or 8 years earlier, to being able to produce poetry of the highest degree of complexity; not only matching the quality and knowledge of perhaps the greatest poet in England, but also writing in Marlowe’s style and a companion piece to Marlowe’s great, but unpublished, poem. Now, by our old friend Occam’s razor, what do you think is the most probable explanation of that, by introducing the least amount of speculation and leaps of faith?

At the end of the day, amongst those who doubt Shakespeare’s authorship, there are very few claiming to have all the answers, or that believe the case is resolved in favour of some other candidate. In fact, the only people, who seem to believe that, are those believing it was the Stratford man; they seem to think they have “won” something, so have no reason to enter the debate. But this is not about winning or losing; it is about establishing the truth.

I’ll tell you the bizarre thing:  anti-Stratfordians, as we are called, are likened to supporters of “intelligent-design” rather than “evolution,” cranks and conspiracy theorists. Well, we have one group, which wishes to examine and debate real observations and real evidence in the real world, whilst another group wishes to take its beliefs on faith and has an attitude that says, “We don’t know how he did, but he just did.” You tell me, which group are the Darwinians, and which are the religious zealots?

© Anthony Kellett, 2011  was Marlowe shakespeare?

Click here for the blog's home page and recent content.THE MARLOWE PAPERS

Monday, November 21, 2011

Doubters Rebut Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's Attack

On the first of September there appeared in The Stage magazine an announcement from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust that it was launching a campaign "to debunk the conspiracy theories surrounding the authorship of Shakespeare's works." It was of course timed to be up and running before the release of Roland Emmerich's film Anonymous on 28 October.

The campaign began that day with a new website, 60 Minutes with Shakespeare, featuring an impressive collection of actors, writers and scholars, whose photographs and credentials are laid out before us on the home page. "Was Shakespeare a Fraud?" it asks, "Sixty questions, sixty scholars, sixty seconds each." To find out just what question each of them was asked and to hear an audio recording of their answer you must "sign up" with your name and email address. It is then also possible to obtain a transcript of the response in each case.

This hurdle makes it fairly clear that the main intent is for the majority of people not to bother with the actual details on offer, but to be so impressed with the array of "experts" - all (except Roland Emmerich) apparently on the side of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in this matter - that they will simply assume not only that these people must be right, but that those who suggest that Shakespeare was a "fraud" must be wrong.

That the Birthplace Trust has gone so public in this way, however, gives those who doubt the Shakespeare authorship an unprecedented opportunity to respond. Within a week, therefore, the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition began in relative secrecy to coordinate a response by representatives of most of the main authorship organizations, including the International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society, giving a definitive rebuttal for each of the "60 Minutes." We have provided responses for the items (by Antony Sher and Charles Nicholl) specifically attacking the Marlovian theory, and have had the opportunity to make comments on everything else that's been submitted, most of which have been acted upon.

The result of this collaboration is a report entitled Exposing an Industry in Denial, the purpose of which is to present those rebuttals, and to challenge the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to write a single definitive declaration of the reasons why they claim that there is no room for doubt about the identity of the author of the plays and poems of William Shakespeare.

Given the differences between the beliefs of the various organizations taking part, it was inevitable that not all members of the group would be able to go along with everything written by the others, but in the event such differences are really quite surprisingly few. There is indeed far more in it to be praised than to be pardoned, and we heartily commend it to everyone's attention. It can be found here.

© The International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society, 2011

Click here for the blog's home page and recent content.THE MARLOWE PAPERS

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Marlovians Bite Back by Peter Farey

A free e-book has just been made available by the Stratford-upon-Avon based Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, apparently prompted by the recent release of Roland Emmerich’s film Anonymous. Written by Rev. Dr. Paul Edmondson and Prof. Stanley Wells, CBE, it is called Shakespeare Bites Back and consists of most of the same old arguments for the Stratfordian authorship we have become so familiar with over the years, together with the habitual contempt for anyone presuming to question that belief.

Pages 21 and 22 apparently concern the Marlovian hypothesis. Let's look at what they say.

The chapter heading is "Duping the Dean" and goes as follows:

"The anti-Shakespearians..."

Ah yes, I should mention that we are all lumped together in this fashion throughout the document, as a grossly inaccurate and intentionally insulting policy proclaimed in their so-called manifesto: "We should use the term ‘anti-Shakespearian’ to describe those who propagate this particular conspiracy theory."

And there we have the second rhetorical trick which is also so obvious as to be pathetic. The whole issue is constantly referred to as (note the initial caps) the "Shakespeare Authorship Conspiracy Theory." Do they think their readers are so dim as to be unable to distinguish between those who find it necessary to descend to such semantic trickery, and those who don't?

Back to the Marlowe bit.

"...even succeeded in duping the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey..."

Who may not take kindly to being described as dupes?

"...who, in 2002, misguidedly allowed themselves..."

No, they can't get out of it with weasel words. Duped is duped, one born every minute.

" be advised by people who want to believe that Christopher Marlowe wrote Shakespeare. "

Want to believe? This is what Freud called projection. If any side in this controversy "wants" to believe anything it is the writers of this e-book. As they know full well, but refuse to acknowledge, all we want is to discover the truth about Marlowe.

"In properly honouring Marlowe by installing a commemorative window in Poets’ Corner, the Dean and Chapter authorized the presence of a question-mark to precede the year of Marlowe’s death."

This is true.

"In doing so they flew in the face of a mass of unimpugnable evidence."

This isn't. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the relevant definition of "impugn" would be "To assail (an opinion, statement, document, action, etc.) by word or argument; to call in question; to dispute the truth, validity, or correctness of; to oppose as false or erroneous." Now, just as one example, this is exactly what I was doing when I wrote "Marlowe's Sudden and Fearful End" which had nothing whatever to do with the authorship question, and which was cited by Park Honan in his Marlowe biography; also my "Hoffman and the Authorship," for which I was the lucky co-winner of a prize for which Stanley Wells himself was once the adjudicator. More to the point, of course, is that nearly every scholar who has examined the documents related to Marlowe's death has "impugned" them in exactly the way the OED says. The evidence seems very impugnable to me.

"Marlowe died on 30 May 1593 as a result of being stabbed in the eye by an identified criminal, Ingram Frizer."

Oh dear, oh dear. It was above the eye, of course, and can anybody tell me for which crime Ingram Frizer had ever been found guilty?

"The coroner’s report survives. It was witnessed by a jury of sixteen men who inspected the corpse."

And took the word of three known liars as to just whose corpse it was, right? Using several sources concerning the law governing the practice of coroners in those days, and the extent to which it was followed to the letter, we have been able to argue quite confidently that the jury would not necessarily have inspected the whole corpse anyway, just the wound which, whilst very dramatic to see (someone sent me the photo of a man with a bread-knife through his eye socket, so believe me!), need not have been what really killed him.

At this time, Marlowe was facing trial and probable execution for proselytizing atheism. That the only three witnesses of what really happened were, as I said, professional liars and all connected with Marlowe's dear friend Thomas Walsingham; that the coroner was the one most likely to be in on any deception and (apparently illegally) working alone; and that the foreman of the jury just happened to be Thomas Walsingham's neighbour, should surely be grounds for some suspicion?

"It is recorded that Marlowe was buried in the churchyard of St. Nicholas at Deptford on the same day as the inquest (1 June 1593)."

Well it would be, wouldn't it? Although the record actually says "Christopher Marlow slaine by ffrancis ffrezer; the -1- of June." Francis Frezer? Are we to assume that this evidence is equally unimpugnable? But remember what Edmondson and Wells say (above) about "properly honouring Marlowe by installing a commemorative window in Poets’ Corner"? Don't these people find it just the teeniest bit strange that the greatest poet/dramatist of the day was dropped into an unmarked grave or pit and simply left there to rot? No known grave, no memorial, no follow-up whatsoever? Why on earth not, especially if, as seems likely, both Thomas Walsingham and another dear friend Edward Blount were there to witness the burial?

"Moreover there are numerous references to Marlowe’s death and tributes to his genius in the years immediately following it."

Yes indeed. People were told he was dead and, believing what they were told, expressed their grief and admiration. "Shakspeare" of Stratford should have been so lucky.

"Most significantly Shakespeare himself alludes to Marlowe in As You Like It when Phoebe is swept off her feet on first seeing Rosalind disguised as Ganymede:
Dead shepherd, now I find thy saw of might:
“Whoever loved that loved not at first sight.” (3.5.)
The quotation is from Marlowe’s famous erotic poem, Hero and Leander (published posthumously in 1598). In As You Like It (almost certainly written in 1599) Shakespeare paid a fine and public tribute to his dead colleague. If Marlowe wrote Shakespeare this means that he is writing about himself as dead, and from beyond the grave."

Is this really the best evidence that Edmondson and Wells can muster? Were anyone to have been in the position which Marlovians claim that Marlowe was at that time, wouldn't they too have been eager to make sure that they were not entirely forgotten without actually giving the game away?

One is tempted to ask the authors just what they think Shakespeare had in mind when, in the same play, he gave Touchstone the words "When a man's verses cannot be read, nor a man's good wit seconded with the forward child understanding, it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room," accepted by all as referring to Marlowe's death. Couldn't it quite reasonably be taken to mean that if being misunderstood strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room, then the said reckoning may not have left him dead at all?

Furthermore, perhaps they have a better explanation than we do as to why Evans (in The Merry Wives of Windsor) would confuse Marlowe's "Passionate Shepherd to his Love" with a song based upon Psalm 137, "By the rivers of Babylon," perhaps the greatest song of exile ever written?

"How good does the surviving evidence have to be before it can be refuted? The evidence of the coroner’s report is unimpeachable."

No it isn't! Back to the OED, for the relevant definition of "impeach": "To challenge, call in question, cast an imputation upon, attack; to discredit, disparage." The evidence of the coroner's court has been already been impeached by the majority of orthodox scholars to have studied it. Do they not know this?

"The questionmark in Marlowe’s memorial window should be removed."

Not on the basis of this argument it shouldn't. It was the Marlowe Society, of course, who raised the several thousand pounds that the memorial window cost. What the then President of the Society, who to my knowledge has no anti-Stratfordian leanings, actually said at the unveiling was that the Marlowe Society was agnostic on the subject of authorship of any other works, and did not proselytize. By the question mark against "1593" on the memorial the Society merely queried, not denied, the date of Marlowe's death.

And that's the authors' whole rebuttal of the Marlovian hypothesis! Not a single mention of the mass of reasons we give for believing it highly probable, had he lived, for Marlowe to have been the ghost writer for Shakespeare. No need for all that. The report said that Marlowe was dead and people at the time seemed to believe that someone called Shakespeare wrote the works. Period.

"How good does the surviving evidence have to be before it can be refuted?"

It has to be good enough to withstand detailed examination, as it has been subjected to (and repeatedly failed to withstand) in this case.

There is one quotation the authors use which I particularly liked. "The great scholar F. P. Wilson, author of a book on Marlowe and Shakespeare, once said that the most important thing a scholar has to learn to say is ‘I don’t know.' "

Oh, the irony of it!

© Peter Farey, 2011 stratfordians bite back

Peter Farey is the author of "Marlowe's Sudden and Fearful End" and discoverer of as many new facts related to Marlowe's supposed death in Deptford Strand as anyone since Leslie Hotson.

Click here for the blog's home page and recent content.THE MARLOWE PAPERS

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Emmerich's Anonymous? We have a movie, too.

Click here (or above) for Mike Rubbo's 8-minute YouTube clip on the Marlowe-as-Shakespeare theory.

The clip consists of excerpts from Rubbo's 2002 PBS/Frontline documentary, Much Ado About Something, as well as some recent commentary by the filmmaker. Some great snippets with Shakespearean scholar Jonathan Bate, Stanley Wells (chair of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust), actor Mark Rylance (former artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe and now appearing in Anonymous), and Marlovians Peter Farey and the late Dolly Wraight.

"Much Ado About Something is a film of ideas - well, notions, anyway - that are bound to stimulate discussion, an aspect long missing from documentary [. . .] Mr. Rubbo is an old-fashioned rabble-rouser, and he knows a good story when he finds it. And he's got one in this case, with its adherents to a cause and their whipsaw articulation of thoughts." Elvis Mitchell, New York Times

" . . . has enough wit, energy and geniality to please not only the fanatical adherents on either side, but also people who know nothing about the subject and think they're not interested." Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
Emmerich Orloff Anonymous
Click here for the blog's home page and recent content.THE MARLOWE PAPERS

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Emmerich and the Case Against Oxford as Shakespeare

In light of Emmerich's Anonymous film, which promotes the theory that Edward de Vere (1550-1604), the seventeenth earl of Oxford, wrote the Shakespeare works, here is a compilation of some of our posts which rebut the Oxford theory.

Peter Farey's "The Wrong Candidate," "Oxfordians and the 1604 Question," and "Questions All Oxfordians Must Answer"; Daryl Pinksen on Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, as straw man and the weak case of de Vere as Shakespeare; Donna Murphy on the many problems with the Oxford theory; Isabel Gortázar's "Nor Oxford Either!"; and Sam Blumenfeld's disqualification of de Vere as Shakespeare.Emmerich shakespeare frontman

Click here for the blog's home page and recent content.THE MARLOWE PAPERS

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Louis le Doux = Lodovico Dolce by Edward G. Clybourn

Peter Farey and A.D. (Dolly) Wraight made the case for the agent "Le Doux" mentioned in the papers of Anthony Bacon in 1595-1596 being Christopher Marlowe. See chapters 2 and 3 of Farey's A Deception at Deptford for a summary of the evidence for this argument as it has stood until now. Farey argues that Le Doux's first name may have been Louis (also spelled Lois or Loys or Louys) based on a 16th-century wax seal in the British Library of a man in Elizabethan clothing with a baboon's face, with the name "LOIS LE DOULX".

Farey put forward some ideas about where the name Louis le Doux came from. Recently I discovered another very likely source of the name: It is the French rendition of the name of the mid-16th century Italian author Lodovico Dolce.

The key find is the book Anciens Inventaires et Catalogues de la Bibliotheque Nationale, Volume 1. On pp. 404-408 of this book is the "Catalogue de Poetes Italiens," which includes both Latin and Italian poets. On p. 406 are two items under the heading "Loys Le Doux": Le sacripant de Loys le Doux, en rithme and Les transformations de Loys le Doux. The appearance of the name in a list of Italian poets pointed me toward Lodovico Dolce: "Louis le Doux" is precisely how his name would be translated into French. Farey clinched the case by pointing out to me that both Sacripante (a "chivalric romance") and Le Transformationi (a translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses) were indeed works by Lodovico Dolce.

The next question is, naturally, are there any connections to link Lodovico Dolce to Christopher Marlowe? Indeed there are. Dolce wrote a tragedy Didone in 1547, four decades before Marlowe wrote his play on the same topic. The book Christopher Marlowe: the Plays and Their Sources by Vivien Thomas and William Tydemam gives Dolce's play as the 5th of five sources for Dido, Queen of Carthage. (As an aside, Dolce's Didone itself was influenced by the work of Giovanni Giraldi Cinthio on the same topic. That is of interest to Shakespeareans because Cinthio's Hecatommithi contains tales that anticipate the plots of Measure for Measure and Othello. They were translated from Italian into French and Spanish by Shakespeare's time, but not into English. That raises the question of how William Shakespeare of Stratford could have accessed them, but there is no question about Marlowe's access to them if he was Le Doux: Hecatommithi was one of the books listed in the Bacon papers as belonging to Le Doux.)

There is another connection between Dolce and Marlowe that is particularly relevant because it relates directly to another nickname for Marlowe that is already well known. Dolce's most famous work was L'Aretino or Dialogo della Pittura. "L'Aretino" refers to his close colleague Pietro Aretino. This name will be familiar to scholars of Marlowe: On pp. 54-55 of Charles Nicholl's The Reckoning: the Murder of Christopher Marlowe, there is a long passage about Thomas Nashe's The Unfortunate Traveller (completed 27 June 1593) explaining how "Nashe's tribute to the great Italian dramatist, Pietro Aretino, proves to be a sidelong epitaph for Christopher Marlowe." Nicholl cites the same comparison already made by Gabriel Harvey in Four Letters in 1592, an attack on both Nashe and Marlowe: Harvey refers to Nashe by the nickname "the Devil's Orator" and to Marlowe by the nickname "Aretine." Harvey continued this tirade against Marlowe as "Aretine" in another work dated April 1593 but not published until after Marlowe's reported death. Nicholl concludes Nashe's references to "Aretine" in The Unfortunate Traveller would have been clearly understood by his audience as a tribute to Marlowe.

Thus we have a connection between an already well-known nickname for Marlowe and the name "Louis le Doux," via Dolce's famous work L'Aretino. Since Marlowe had already been given as a nickname an English version of the name of an Italian author who inspired him, it would have been entirely in his witty character to adopt as a pseudonym a French version of the name of another Italian author who inspired him and who had a connection to Aretino. Marlowe's friends in his literary circles would get the reference, but other people would not — an excellent choice for a pseudonym!

The Italian origin of the name Louis le Doux fits well with the existing evidence for the Marlovian theory. Marlovians believe it is likely Marlowe went to Italy in the years immediately after his faked death, since Shakespeare's Italian-themed plays begin appearing around that time. Marlowe's adoption of an Italian poet's name, in the guise of a French translation, when he returns to England two years later, fits this theory well.Emmerich  Shakespeare kill Marlowe?

© Edward G. Clybourn, September 2011

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Marlowe and the Dark Lady by Maureen Duff

For those who do not know of Emilia (or Aemelia) Bassano Lanier, I recommend Martin Green’s essay, “Emilia Lanier IS the Dark Lady of the Sonnets,” which gives convincing evidence that she is the elusive Lady. Apart from finding a match between the description and temperament of Emilia Bassano and the girl in “Shakespeare’s” Sonnets, Green’s main thrust is that the word “basané” or “basanée,” according to Randle Cotgrave’s Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues (1611), means “duskie, swart, blackish, of a tawnie hue; also, smutched, bedusked." It was used in Montaigne’s Essais in the 1580s to explain that natural beauty need not be “fair” but can be “more," from the Italian moro, black or dark-haired. The Italian basano and basana had the same “dark, tanned or dirty” meaning. “Basan” or “bazan” was also a 16th-century leather tanning term in both Italian and English. Emilia’s family name had several forms, including Bassano, Bassany and Bassoni. Bassany-basanée is the sort of wordplay that the author of the “Shakespeare” plays loved. Emilia’s name, by definition, makes her a “femme basanée” – though her family origins lay not in France but in northern Italy, specifically the Veneto region.

A passionate and unsettling love affair between Emilia and the author of the Sonnets raises the question of the identity of the author. Relevant to this is the date of authorship. The best evidence shows that the Dark Lady Sonnets were written in the period 1591-95, indicating that the love affair started during this time.1

It is important to sketch certain established details of Emilia’s biography. She was born out of wedlock in 1569 to Margaret Johnson and Baptista Bassano, one of the numerous Venetian Bassano family (as above, Bassani or Bassany), many of whom worked in London as musicians for the Tudor and Jacobean courts and the theatres. Their family crest included the mulberry tree and silk moth whose Italian translation, “mora," means both “moth” and “moor” and in heraldic terms can be interpreted as a pun on their Mediterranean appearance. Much that is known about Emilia comes from the diaries of Dr. Simon Forman, a physician-astrologer whom she first consulted in 1597. She had black hair, black eyes and was strikingly beautiful. She was educated and musical. She was high-minded and fickle. She was a “lover of rank” and reputedly a courtesan. She was famously the teenage mistress of Sir Henry Carey, Lord Hunsdon, the Lord Chamberlain, 45 years her senior, who kept her in splendour for several years. To avoid scandal, in October 1592, Hunsdon married her off, pregnant, to her musician cousin Alfonso Lanier whereupon she lost her privileged position in court circles. The marriage was unhappy. She tried over time to be re-accepted into the houses of the nobility. Aged 41 in 1611, she published a series of her own spiritual poems called Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum. She was exotic, intelligent, ambitious and determined at a time when the ideal of female beauty was fair-haired and temperamentally compliant. Simon Forman, who found her fascinating, tells us a very odd detail about her. She had “a wart or mole in the pit of the throat or near it."

So, who is the writer of the Dark Lady sonnets? There is no documentary evidence that William Shakespeare was connected with the London theatres before December 1594, leaving him little time to meet Emilia and write these Sonnets before the end of 1595.2 Quite apart from that, it seems very unlikely that such an ambitious girl would have looked twice at a minor actor without rank or fame, working for the theatre company whose patron was her ex-lover, Lord Hunsdon. So, if not Shakespeare, who?

Christopher Marlowe was living in London by 1587 and had already written his hit play Tamburlaine. It is highly probable that Emilia, mistress of the Lord Chamberlain who was responsible for the entertainment at the Tudor Court, would have known about the most famous playwright in town, perhaps admired his plays and would have met him in this context during the late 1580s. They could have met another way. By 1589, Marlowe was lodging in the Liberty of Norton Folgate, at that time little more than a village surrounded by fields where European immigrants, down-at-heel poets, and theatre folk rented rooms or leased properties. When Emilia’s mother died on July 7, 1587, Emilia inherited the unexpired leases on the family’s three Norton Folgate “messuages” or tenements that stood on the site of the former priory of St Mary Spital. There is evidence that she held on to one or more of the properties till at least Sept 6, 1599, when she buried her daughter Odilia at St Botolph’s, Bishopsgate, the local church for residents of Norton Folgate.3 With such a small population in the area, Marlowe and Emilia could easily have met as neighbours round about the time that Marlowe was writing Doctor Faustus.

Marlowe’s Faustus was entered into the Stationers Register on December 18, 1592. It was written sometime in the period 1588 – 1592, the most likely date being 1588-89.4 In Scene 10 of both the A-Text and the B-Text, an Emperor asks Faustus to conjure up Alexander the Great and his “beauteous paramour." He does so. In order to verify that they are the real thing, the Emperor says to Faustus (A-Text): “Master Doctor, I heard this lady while she lived had a wart or mole in her neck.” On examination of the “beauteous paramour," the identifying “wart or mole” is found – in the same location as Emilia’s “wart or mole” as described by Simon Forman!5

There is another contemporary literary reference associating Marlowe with Emilia in Robert Greene’s moral fable, A Groats-Worth of Wit Bought with a Millionth of Repentance, printed just after Sept 20, 1592. In the first part, a character called “Lucanio” is taken to meet a “beauteous” Italian courtesan called “Lamelia," who seduces Lucanio with her musical skills. She then brings Lucanio to a state of emotional misery. If “Lamelia” represents Emilia Bassano, who is “Lucanio”? There are two pointers to Marlowe. In Greene’s fable, the character Gorinius presents Lucanio with a copy of Machiavelli’s works and suggests that he follows the wisdom therein. As is well known, Marlowe used Machiavelli’s theories to good dramatic effect and several of the characters in his plays follow Machiavelli’s “wisdom." Secondly, surely “Lucanio” is Christopher Marlowe, the translator of Lucan’s First Book, already written by 1592 but not yet presented at the Stationers Register.6 It appears that Greene is saying that Marlowe embarked on an affair with Emilia Bassano prior to September 1592.

If Marlowe did not “die” at Deptford on May 30, 1593, but instead went into exile in northern Italy, a love affair with the Dark Lady makes sense. Through Emilia’s family connections, Marlowe’s Italian destination comes into view. In the 1590s, Emilia’s Anglo-Venetian relatives had business connections in the Veneto region. Her musician uncles owned property in Venice, Borgo de Leon, and possibly Crespano, both villages just outside Bassano, a small sleepy town on the River Brenta, 40 miles north of Venice and 30 miles from Padua. Bassano was so well off the beaten track it would have made a good hiding place for a man who wanted to lie low for a couple of years.7

As the “Shakespeare” plays are peppered with references to a lady of Emilia’s name, appearance, behaviour and relatives (see post-script), these several strands support the view that Christopher Marlowe was not only the author of the Dark Lady Sonnets but also of the plays attributed to Shakespeare. This would explain why so many of the plays were set in the Veneto region of northern Italy.
* * *
Post-script: Evidence of Emilia Bassano’s relatives’ names in the “Shakespeare” plays

The “Shakespeare” plays are full of references to the Bassano or Bassany family. There are Amelias or Emilias in The Winter’s Tale, The Comedy of Errors and Othello. She can be found as Rosaline (R & J), Phoebe (AYLI), Rosalind (Love’s Labour’s Lost), Hermia (Midsummer Night’s Dream), Cleopatra; Katherina (Taming of the Shrew) and Cressida (Troilus and Cressida). They are all dark-haired, black-eyed, striking, and of tempestuous or wanton behaviour.

Emilia’s family name Bassan(i)o appears in the plays as do the first names of many of her relatives : Antonio (Twelfth Night, Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest, Two Gentlemen of Verona); Bassanio (Merchant of Venice), Bassanius* (Titus Andronicus), Baptista (Taming of The Shrew), Lodovico (Othello). Isabella and Angelus (Measure for Measure & Comedy of Errors). Isabella was Emilia’s cousin. Angela was Emilia’s sister. In A Taming of A Shrew, (a possible version of The Taming of The Shrew, performed in 1593 at the Rose Theatre) there is an Aemilia and Alfonso. This list does not include Emilia’s cousin, Mark Antony, as his name represents a historical figure.8

*Bassanius is also the Roman name for the town of Bassano del Grappa.

© Maureen Duff, August 2011

Thanks to Dr. W. Anderson and Peter Farey for their invaluable comments.

Maureen Duff was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and was educated at the University of Glasgow (MA, English Literature and Philosophy). She has worked in the entertainment industry for many years, first as a theatrical agent, then as a casting director in films and television. She worked for Director Richard Attenborough on Closing the Ring and Director Danny Boyle on several films, including The Beach and 28 Days Later. Her filmography can be found on the imdb. She has won or been a finalist in several UK national magazine writing competitions, notably winning a trip for two to Hawaii for a short story entitled "Krakatoa, East of Java." She once cast As You Like It for the Northcott Theatre, Exeter. She lives and works in London.

1Hieatt, A. Kent, Hieatt, Charles W., & Anne Lake Prescott. 1991. "When Did Shakespeare Write 'Sonnets 1609?'" Studies in Philology, Vol. 88, No. 1 (Winter, 1991), pp. 69-109. The authors show that there are early rare words but no late rare words in the Dark Lady Sonnets 127-152, hence their claim for early composition, 1591-95.
2Shakespeare first appears connected with the Lord Chamberlain’s Men in the Tudor court payment records of December 1594.
3The suggestion is that while Emilia was living first with Hunsdon in the Strand (1588 – 1592) and then after October 1592 with Alfonso Lanier in the parish of Aldgate, she still retained a financial interest in the Norton Folgate properties, as the purpose of “tenements” was to rent them to “tenants."
4Scholars’ opinions vary on the date of composition of Faustus. David Bevington and Eric Rasmussen, eds., Revels Plays (Manchester University Press, 1993), suggest 1588, due to topical references concerning Antwerp, Dutch fire-ships and the Duke of Parma. Dr. F. S. Boas suggests it was written in 1592, when its German Faustbuch source was translated into English, though manuscripts could have been in prior circulation.
5Sir Henry Carey was a successful military leader, hence the comparison to Alexander the Great. Regarding blemishes: according to John Lyly in his Introduction to Euphues: the Anatomy of Wyt (1578), blemishes such as moles were an indicator of special beauty. He tells us: “Venus had her mole in her cheek which made her more amiable: Helen her scar on her chin which Paris called cos amoris, the whetstone of love. Aristippus his wart, Lycurgus his wen.” In Faustus Text A, the line reads “a wart or mole in her neck." In Text B, it reads “a little wart or mole in her neck." This shows that the phrase was in the original text, no matter which version came first. Moles or warts also turn up as identification marks in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Comedy of Errors and Cymbeline. So far I have not been able to find them used in this way by any other English Renaissance playwright.
6Regarding the dating of Marlowe’s translation of Lucan’s First Book, some scholars prefer 1582, others 1592.
7Ruffatti, Alessio. 1998. “La Famiglia Piva-Bassano Nei Document Degli Archevi Di Bassano Del Grappa.” Musica e Storia (2 Dec. 1998). I have not read this essay but according to an article on the Laniers which can be found at, I understand that Dr. Ruffatti says that the Bassanos were called “Piva” while they lived in Bassano. They changed their name to that of their ancestral town only when some of them departed to live in Venice. Their silk moth and mulberry tree heraldic motif may be associated with the town of Bassano itself and may not be a reference to a former family occupation of working in the silk trade.
8The Bassano family tree can be found in The Bassanos by David Lasocki & Roger Prior (Ashgate, 1995).Emmerich Anonymous movie

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Christopher Marlowe, The Dating Game, and Sir Walter Ralegh by Donna N. Murphy

The Dating Game is the name of U.S. television show that first aired in the 1960s, but I’ll use it to describe a game I believe Marlowe played with 17th century theater-goers. Alex Jack discovered an instance of the dating game in Hamlet’s first quarto.1 The gravedigger tells Hamlet that if it is not rotten, an ordinary body will last eight years, while “a tanner/ Will last you eight years full out, or nine” (the same numbers are provided in the First Folio version). The first quarto was registered in 1602, nine years after Marlowe’s “death” in 1593. Thus, this dating game has to do, I think, with inserting a clue about life/death and the number of years that have elapsed since Marlowe’s supposed demise. By the way, Hamlet was registered on July 26th, the day after St. Christopher’s Day, which fell on a Sunday that year.2

Instance #2: In Pericles, Prince of Tyre, a prince, through no fault of his own, must go on the run. He meets and marries a princess, but she is thought to die after childbirth during a tempest at sea. Her casket is tossed overboard and she is washed ashore, discovered to be alive, and becomes a priestess. Their baby daughter, Marina (abbreviated as Mar. in speech designations), is left on another shore to be raised by others, but just before her father returns to retrieve her, is thought to have been murdered. In reality, she is hauled off by pirates. Marina is able to retain her virtue and is reunited with her parents in a happy ending.

Fourteen years pass between the princess’ “death” and her rediscovery by Pericles; the family reunites when Marina is fourteen years old. Pericles was registered on the anniversary of Marlowe’s arrest, May 20, 1608, not quite fifteen years from the date of Marlowe’s “death,” and printed the following year.

Instance #3: A key source for The Winter’s Tale is Robert Greene’s Pandosto. In Greene’s version, a jealous king unjustifiably accuses his wife Bellaria of adultery, sets her newborn child to sea in a small boat, and sends emissaries to the Oracle at Delphos to verify his suspicions. The Oracle says Bellaria is innocent. As this news is delivered to the king, Bellaria drops dead and remains dead the rest of the story. The Bard changes the characters’ names, and Bellaria becomes Hermione. The name stems from antiquity: Hermione was of the daughter of King Menelaus and Helen of Troy. In the present case, however, it might denote self-identification: Her + Me = One.

In the Bard’s version, again there is a jealous king, again an unfairly accused wife, but their baby is renamed Perdita, from the Latin “perditus” or the Spanish “perdida,” meaning “lost”. Again the king launches the baby to sea in a small boat, and sends men to the Oracle of Delphos. As the Oracle’s pronouncement of innocence is read before the King, again his wife falls down “dead.”

But this time, unbeknownst to the king and everyone else, Hermione is not dead. Her servant Paulina spirits her away to a safe place until the time, sixteen years later, when Perdita is found. At that point, Paulina takes the remorseful king to see a statue of Hermione she has erected in her honor, a statue that comes to life before his eyes as his long-lost wife. The Winter’s Tale is thought to have been written in 1610 or 1611, but not registered or published until 1623. Adding sixteen years to the date of Marlowe’s “death” would entail composition between May 30, 1609 and May 29, 1610. The date ranges overlap.

It has been conjectured that the name “Paulina” was derived from St. Paul. It is interesting, though, that both Sir John Davies and Sir John Harington employed “Paul” as a nickname for Sir Walter Ralegh in their epigrams.3 Might Paulina represent Ralegh? In our discussions about who helped Marlowe escape in 1593, should we be considering Ralegh as another possibility?

“It is certain that Marlowe and Ralegh knew each other, but how well we do not know,” wrote Charles Nicholl.4 According to an anonymous informer, Richard Cholmeley said Marlowe “read the Atheist lecture” to Ralegh and others. The Baines Note reported that Marlowe said “Moses was but a juggler, and that one Heriots (Thomas Hariot) being Sir Walter Ralegh’s man can do more than he," while Thomas Kyd wrote that Marlowe conversed “with Harriot, Warner, Royden, and some stationers in Paul’s churchyard.”5 Like Marlowe, Ralegh was accused of atheism: Robert Person alleged that Ralegh presided over a school of atheism, and an ecclesiastical commission held an enquiry in 1594, but filed no charges against Ralegh. So far as we know, he was a conforming member of the Church of England who enjoyed discussions with intelligent, forward-looking people. On a lighter note, Ralegh wrote a poem about a nymph declining the offer to “come live with me and by my love” as requested in Marlowe’s A Passionate Shepherd to his Love. Most importantly, Ralegh famously had access to ships; Marlowe’s last known location, Deptford, was a port; and Marlowe would have needed to get away quickly. Might Ralegh have helped provide an escape vessel?

© Donna N. Murphy, August 2011

Donna N. Murphy is the co-winner of the 2010 Calvin and Rose G. Hoffman Prize for a Distinguished Publication on Christopher Marlowe. She is only the third person to do so for a work which supports the view that Marlowe wrote Shakespeare (the others being Peter Farey and Michael Rubbo). Her two most recent articles, both in the June 2011 issue of Notes and Queries, are "'The Repentance of Robert Greene,' 'Greene's Groatsworth of Wit,' and Robert Greene," and "'Two Dangerous Comets' and Thomas Nashe."

1Hamlet. By Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare, ed. Alex Jack, Vol. 2 (Becket, MA: Amber Waves, 2005), 256.
2John Baker reported the St. Christopher’s Day association on his now-defunct website.
3Charles Nicholl, “‘At Middleborough’: Some Reflections on Marlowe’s Visit to the Low Countries in 1592,” Christopher Marlowe and English Renaissance Culture, ed. Darryll Grantley and Peter Roberts (Aldershot, Hants, England: Scolar Press, 1996), 43.
4Charles Nicholl, The Reckoning (London: Vintage, 2002), 233.
5Park Honan, Christopher Marlowe. Poet & Spy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 237, 235. Emmerich Anonymous

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

John Davies and the Swallow by Peter Farey

The 2010 edition of The Oxfordian contained an essay entitled The Swallow and the Crow in which Sabrina Feldman presented a very interesting case for a hitherto unconsidered candidate for being the true author of Shakespeare's works - Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst. Whilst most of us will be familiar with why a Crow might be relevant to this subject, I must confess that the Swallow referred to in the title was new to me.

It turned out to be a reference to the poem Orchestra, or, A Poeme of Dauncing by John (later Sir John) Davies. Davies was five years younger than Marlowe and came from a fairly similar background, his father being a tanner. Educated at Winchester and at Queen's College, Oxford, apparently without taking a degree, he then became a law student, mainly at Middle Temple, and was called to the bar in 1595. He is described as having a "flamboyant and tempestuous personality" - like someone else we know? Although too early at Middle Temple to have associated with Marston the playwright or Manningham the diarist, Davies may well have been - along with most Inns of Court students - an enthusiastic playgoer during his time there (1588-95), which included the period directly coinciding with Marlowe's rise to fame.

Orchestra was registered with the Stationers' Company in 1594, but the earliest extant copy of it is dated 1596, which could therefore include later additions to the original. The work runs to 131 stanzas,1 but it is just the last four which concern us here. In these, he wishes that he could write as well as Homer, Virgil (of Mantua), Chaucer (Gefferie), Spenser (Colin), Daniel (Delia), or his "sweet Companion" - presumably Richard Martin, to whom the whole poem is dedicated. He wishes he might mingle his brain with theirs to be able to write as well as them. Then he moves on to Sir Philip Sidney (Astrophell) and another unnamed, and so far unidentified, poet whom he calls "the Swallow."

Yet Astrophell might one for all suffize,
VVhose supple Muse Camelion-like doth change
Into all formes of excellent deuise:
So might the Swallow, whose swift Muse doth range
Through rare Ideas, and inuentions strange,
And euer doth enioy her ioyfull spring,
And sweeter then the Nightingale doth sing.

O that I might that singing Swallow heare
To whom I owe my seruice and my loue,
His sugred tunes would so enchant mine eare,
And in my mind such sacred fury moue,
As I should knock at heau'ns great gate aboue
With my proude rimes, while of this heau'nly state
I doe aspire the shadows to relate.

So who was this Swallow, and why was that sobriquet chosen? It was clearly someone whom it would have been inappropriate to identify as easily as the others. Sabrina Feldman argues that it was Lord Buckhurst, but offers no explanation for the choice of nickname. Yet there is one characteristic for which swallows are well-known, and which is mentioned by both Aristotle ("One swallow does not make a summer") and Shakespeare ("daffodils / That come before the swallow dares") - they arrive back from overseas in late spring or early summer.

An identity thought by most Marlovians to have been adopted by Marlowe upon his first return from exile overseas was that of one Monsieur Le Doux who apparently arrived (back?) in England in the late spring or early summer of 1595.2

Under the protection of the Earl of Essex's spymaster Anthony Bacon, Le Doux spent the rest of the year at the home of Sir John Harington (later Baron Harington of Exton) at Burley on the Hill, in Rutland. There he was employed as tutor to the Haringtons' young son, another John. He left Burley at the end of January 1596, however, and returned to London to receive instructions from the Earl of Essex concerning travel across Europe to collect intelligence on his behalf. Le Doux nevertheless seems to have spent most of the following month in London. Although Essex issued a passport for him on 10 February it doesn't appear to have been used, and another was issued on 20 March. By 5 April he was overseas, however, and the last definite news we have of this Monsieur Le Doux is a letter dated 22 June 1596 sent by him from "Mittelburg," that is Middelburg, the capital of the province of Zeeland, in the Low Countries.

We know that in 1592 Marlowe had been in Flushing, not far from Middelburg, and Charles Nicholl has suggested3 that he may have used this as an opportunity to get the first edition of his translations of some of Ovid's Amores printed, as the title page says that they were printed "at Middleborough," the town had a thriving printing industry, and the material would have been quite unlikely to get past the rather strict censorship then in operation in England. We do not know exactly when the printing was done, however, and it could certainly have been as late as 1596, when a surviving Marlowe may well have been not in Flushing this time but in Middelburg itself.

The interesting thing from the point of view of this paper, however, is that it wasn't just Marlowe's work contained in the volume printed there. The title page of the first edition reads "EPIGRAMMES and ELEGIES by I.D. and C.M." The "I.D." is of course John Davies, and this is what the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has to say about it: "About the same time as he wrote and published Orchestra, [i.e. in 1596, when Le Doux was in Middelburg] Davies went into print with a number of epigrams, notorious for their 'roughness, even coarseness'."

To conclude: if Le Doux really was Christopher Marlowe returning from overseas in late spring or early summer 1595, and if he used the occasion of his visit to Middelburg in 1596 to get the shared volume of his and Davies's work printed there, then he must also be by far the most likely candidate for the mysterious "Swallow" so admired by Davies in his poem Orchestra, which was printed that very year. Conversely, this possibility must in itself add support to the case for Le Doux being a surviving Christopher Marlowe.

© Peter Farey, 2011

Peter Farey, a founding member of the International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society, was also a founding member (with Derek Jacobi) of the UK's National Youth Theatre. Click here to reach Peter's website.    S
am Riley Marlowe Burgess Emmerich Anonymous
1Orchestra may be found here.
2See A. D. Wraight's Shakespeare: New Evidence, 1996, and my A Deception in Deptford
3Charles Nicholl, "At Middleborough: Some reflections on Marlowe's Visit to the Low Countries in 1592" in Darryll Grantley and Peter Roberts (eds.) Christopher Marlowe and English Renaissance Culture, 1996. Emmerich Sam Riley

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Prosecute It to the Full" by Peter Farey

According to David Riggs, "Queen Elizabeth I herself was said to have pronounced Christopher Marlowe's death sentence ('prosecute it to the full') at court. A few days later, on 30 May 1593, Marlowe died from a puncture wound above the eye in the nearby home of a genteel widow." So opens his 2004 biography The World of Christopher Marlowe, but in my opinion these statements are almost entirely wrong.

Of course, we Marlovians do not accept that Marlowe really died then, his death having been faked, and it was a Marlovian (William Honey) who first pointed out that the court was not at "nearby" Greenwich, as Riggs and all other biographers apparently thought, but 13 miles away at Nonsuch in Surrey. This is not all that Riggs has wrong, however. I would argue that the Queen's command had nothing to do with Marlowe.

The source of Riggs's statement is the letter written by Thomas Drury to Anthony Bacon on 1 August 1593 in which he wrote: "Then after all this there was by my only means set down unto the Lord Keeper (and) the Lord of Buckhurst the notablest and vilest articles of Atheism that I suppose the like was never known or read of in any age all which I can show unto you they were delivered to her highness and command given by her self to prosecute it to the full..."

There has been almost unanimous agreement among biographers that the "vilest articles of Atheism" he is talking about must be the so-called Baines Note. This does appear to have gone to Lord Keeper Puckering, it was indeed sent to "her highness," it followed a meeting of Drury with Baines, and it certainly fitted his description. Until now, I have nevertheless found it difficult to accept this for three reasons.

Firstly, the dates are wrong. We have a copy of what was actually sent to Her Highness, and it includes the news of the "sudden and fearful end" of Marlowe's life. So why would she want it "prosecuted to the full," as Riggs suggests, if he was already dead?

Second, just before the "vilest articles" bit in his letter Drury had been telling of "a notable villain or two which are close prisoners and bad matters against them of an exceeding nature," which is generally believed to concern Richard Cholmeley and his atheistic "crew." Immediately after it he goes on talking about "this damnable sect" concerning the same subject, so the Baines Note (concerned almost entirely with Marlowe's doings) doesn't seem to fit there at all.

Third, there is another document which is by the same author as the "Remembrances" on Cholmeley (presumed to be Drury) which continues the accusations against him - so better suits its position in this letter - and which also fits the "vilest articles of atheism" description just as well. The problem with this one, however, is that it was sent to someone he calls "your worship," a form of address unsuitable for either the Lord Keeper or Lord Buckhurst, and which therefore seems to have been intended for Justice Young instead.

How then to find the concord of this discord? The best answer I can come up with (as I partly suggested here in my item "Marlowe and the Privy Council") is that Drury obtained the "Note" from Baines and passed it on to Lord Keeper Puckering, whilst making a copy for himself and using it as the basis for his letter to Justice Young. What is of the greatest importance to him is the "Cholmeley question," however, so that as far as he is concerned the Baines Note is really just a sort of appendix to his Remembrances, giving futher information about the sort of things which Cholmeley and his gang must have believed and said because of Marlowe's influence. So in his mind the Remembrances and the Baines Note are lumped together, and it is only their relevance to the Cholmeley matter which he is thinking of when he says that the Queen said that it should be prosecuted to the full.

Furthermore, if Lord Keeper Puckering saw it in much the same way, it would very well explain the bits he chose to remove from the Baines Note - the "tobacco and boys," the "right to coin," and the "great men" witnesses. Looking at them from this point of view, we can see that all of those bits which were deleted are those which have no apparent relevance to Cholmeley and his crew's atheism. This would also provide one explanation for the Baines Note being sent to her even after Marlowe's supposed death.

© Peter Farey, 2011

Peter Farey's essay “Hoffman and the Authorship” is the 2007 recipient of the Calvin & Rose G. Hoffman Prize, administered annually by The King's School in Canterbury for a "distinguished publication on Christopher Marlowe." He is a founding member of the International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society.E
mmerich Anonymous
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Who Was Responsible for Marlowe's Escape? by Isabel Gortázar

In a recent piece posted on this blog, Peter Farey develops the theory that despite appalling accusations of heresy and immorality presented against him by Richard Baines, the entire Privy Council, including Archbishop Whitgift, decided to spare Marlowe’s life, fake his death and send him abroad without interrogation and trial.
For my part, I find Farey’s theory improbable in the extreme, so I will explain my interpretation of the available evidence according to my sense of logic.

Farey’s research traces all Councillors absent and present at the Privy Council’s sessions on the dates when Marlowe’s fate would have been been discussed, logically between May 21st to 29th. He points out that both the Earl of Essex and Lord Burghley did not attend the Council Meetings during that period. Indeed, Lord Burghley remained at home towards the end of May on account of his gout.1

When debating the issue, presumably those Councillors present would have been aware of the consequences of their decision, and the two possible scenarios in the “dead” man’s immediate future:

A) Marlowe could be left somewhere in the Continent to fend for himself, without a legal persona and without funds, papers or travelling companions, which would have meant a slow death from exposure and starvation, or being murdered at the first crossroads for whatever money he may have had on him. This would be practically tantamount to a death sentence without any attempt at exemplarity. So, what was the Deptford charade in aid of? Whom were they trying to fool that could not have been fooled more easily and with a lot less fuss?

That said, eventually Marlowe might have learned to cope with such a situation like his late character Autolycus (or Autolykos, the lone wolf) in The Winter’s Tale. The mythological Autolycus, son of the god Hermes/Mercury, was like his father a thief and a trickster; he also had, like Pallas Athena, a helmet that made him invisible. Unless the merciful Councillors had come to his rescue, Marlowe may have had to survive, hopefully not for long, as a pickpocket and a ballad-monger.

In any case, I don’t see how in these circumstances it would have been possible for Kit to send the MSS of his new plays more or less regularly to London, as he did between 1593 and 1599.

B) The Privy Council, in their infinite mercy, decided not just to spare this atheist’s life without an exemplary punishment, but also to provide him with money, passports, and letters of introduction, so that he could travel in the Continent, find a job and send his new MSS (to whom?) in England.

Farey has suggested that Marlowe’s fate was discussed in the Privy Council; therefore, the risky decision would have been taken in the absence of at least Essex and Lord Burghley. In the recorded Acts of the Privy Council, there is no mention of Christopher Marlowe at all after May 20th, when his appearance (or attempted appearance), before the Council was recorded.2 Had the case been officially discussed during the sessions, some mention of it would have remained, though perhaps allowing a “criminal” to escape to the Continent on a State pension is not the kind of decision that the Council would leave on written record.

That said, the intervention of Coroner Danby strongly suggests that the decision to save Marlowe’s life was approved by the Queen, however reluctantly. This then might imply that the idea was privately discussed, not by the Privy Council as such, but by some individual Councillor/s who had enough influence with the Queen to persuade her to agree. As Queen Elizabeth was notoriously tight-fisted, whoever was at the head of the Marlowe-friendly conspiracy would have undertaken to keep him in funds abroad.

Once I reach this point in my reasoning, I need to think which of the two most influential men at the time, Lord Burghley or the Earl of Essex, would have agreed to do this. Given that Lord Burghley had been cutting “Inteligence Network” expenses since Sir Francis Walsingham’s death in 1590,3 while Essex had been building his own network, paying for it out of his own pocket, it seems to me the choice is easy between these two men. Biographers tell us, by the way, that Essex and his close friend, the Earl of Southampton, were fond of attending plays. Presumably they would have admired the best playwright of all; the dedication of Venus and Adonis supports such conjecture.

Farey’s scenario, however, requires not only Lord Burghley making an exception in his spy network's cost-cutting policy, but also an ungrateful Marlowe shifting his allegiance to Essex, the Cecils’ political rival, and joining the Earl’s new spy team barely two years after Deptford. This seems to be an unavoidable conclusion since I believe (and so does Farey) that Marlowe probably was one Mr Le Doux that appeared under Anthony Bacon’s wing, in October 1595 at the latest, in the household of Sir John Harington at Burley, in Rutland, as tutor to his son.4

In view of all this, my proposed scenario runs smoothly from May 1593, with Essex persuading the Queen to save Marlowe’s life, and then keeping him hidden somewhere, providing him with passports and money and/or jobs until 1599. This arrangement would have included a regular courier service across the Channel, such as Essex would have organized in the Continent in order to obtain his various agents’ reports. As we know from the papers related to Le Doux and others, Anthony Bacon would have received any such reports and letters from the agents; these couriers could also have brought the MSS of new plays written by one particular agent.

The fact that no new Shakespeare plays appeared on the stage (as far as I know), between 1600 and 1603/4, suggest that this routine was suspended at the time of Essex’ Irish campaign, which started April 1599, and his ill-advised return to London in September of the same year. If my conjecture is right and unless he found another patron, as from this time Marlowe would have been job-less, money-less and courier-less, as it seems until 1604, when the next new Shakespeare plays appeared: The 2Quarto Hamlet, twice the length of the 1Q; Measure for Measure and The Moor of Venice. At this point, with a new monarch on the English throne showering favours on the friends of the executed Essex, Marlowe may have found help and protection, at least for a time.

So, what happened between the end of 1599 and November 1604, the period of Shakespeare’s sudden and unprecedented long silence? And why was it that the Bard never again wrote the sort of “happy” comedies that obtained such praise from Francis Meres in his Palladis Tamia?5 In fact, what comedies did he write after 1603?

- The sinister Measure for Measure (1604), most of which action takes place in a prison: An innocent man is sentenced to death, but in order to spare his life the prison authorities execute a common criminal in his stead.
- The Tempest (1611), a bitter tale in which a magician called Prospero shows himself to be alive when everybody thought he had been long dead. The name Prosperus in Latin is synonymous to Faustus.
- The Winter’s Tale (1611); its original title, A Winter’s Night’s Tale,6 was altered sometime after 1604. The play tells the sad story of a queen falsely accused of immorality that faked her death turning into a statue and could only come to life after sixteen years.7

No more comedies; and despite their happy endings, these three don’t raise many laughs.

So, what happened to Shakespeare in or around 1599/1600 when all his plays seem to have been swept from the boards and, it seems, as many rights as could be sold went to the publishers? And why did he not write any new plays between 1599 and 1603? And why did his merry wit become sour after 1603/1604?

We all have our pet theories, based on our own personal interpretation of the available evidence. My own opinion of what happened is a logical sequence to my Essex-as-Patron scenario. As it is another of the several theories in which Farey and I disagree, I shall leave it for some other time.

Let me just mention as an example a letter that may shed some light on the situation of penniless exiles in the Continent: On March 27, 1613, a certain Edward Eustace wrote a letter to William Trumbull that included the following comment: “I have no means to live in France more than here, except I enter into a College and become a priest."

© Isabel Gortázar, June 2011

Isabel Gortázar is an independent scholar, specializing in Shakespeare and Marlowe studies. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Marlowe Society (UK) and a founding member of the International Marlowe Society. She divides her time between London and Bilbao, Spain.
who wrote shakespeare's sonnets?emmerich devere
1Lord Burghley wrote letters dated May 21st and 28th to his son, Robert Cecil, from his sick bed. He attended the Privy Council on May 29th. Ref: Conyers Read's Lord Burghley and Queen Elizabeth (1960), Jonathan Cape, London. V II, p. 485. Read’s ref: Thomas Wright’s Queen Elizabeth and Her Times: A Series of Original Letters Selected From Unedited Private Correspondence (1838), London. V 2. I owe Cynthia Morgan this information, published in her essay "A New Interpretation of Sonnet 112." The Marlowe Society Research Journal, nº 7.
220th may. This daie Cristofer Marley (sic) of London, gentleman, being sent for by warrant from their Lordships, hath entered his apparance accordinglie for his indemnity therein, and is commaunded to give his daily attendaunce on their Lordships untill he shalbe lycensed to the contrary. Acts of the Privy Council. The Lambeth Palace Archives.
3Hammer, P.F.J. The Polarization of Elizabethan Politics: The Political Career of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, 1585-1597. Cambridge University Press, 1999. pp. 154-155.
4Wraight, A.D. Shakespeare, New Evidence. Ref.The Lambeth Palace Archives: The Bacon Papers.
5Meres F. Wits Treasury: A Comparative Discourse of our English Poets, with the Greek, Latin, and Italian Poets. Published in 1598.
6In 1609 a Spanish book of tales by Antonio de Eslava was published in Pamplona under the title Winter Nights. The story in The Tempest seems to be based on one of Eslava’s Winter Nights’ tales.
7The acknowledged principal source of The Winter’s Tale is Pandosto, a novel by Robert Greene (1588); however, the original title of the play suggests that Marlowe was aware of Eslava’s book. In the source story, there is no statue, the Queen dies and the King commits suicide.Emmerich Anonymous

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Did Marlowe Die in Deptford in 1593?

Dr. Ros Barber explores whether Christopher Marlowe was really killed in Deptford in 1593.

Part 1 video; Part 2 video.

Ros Barber is the first person in the world to complete a PhD in Marlovian authorship theory. Her PhD was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK). A founding member of the International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society, she has published articles challenging the orthodox biography of Marlowe in academic books and journals, including the peer-reviewed Routledge journal Rethinking History. Her essay "Was Marlowe a Violent Man?," which was presented at the Marlowe Society of America conference in 2008, is featured in Christopher Marlowe the Craftsman (Ashgate 2010). A published poet, her latest poetry collection, Material (Anvil 2008), was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and was funded by Arts Council England.

Click here for her interview with former BBC World Service journalist Tim Grout-Smith on the Marlowe-as-Shakespeare theory.

Order Ros's debut novel today!

"It’s enough to strike despair into the heart of James Shapiro, author of Contested Will, as well as the hearts of all the other Shakespeare experts who refute the so-called 'authorship controversy'."  (Financial Times)

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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Marlowe and the Privy Council

Peter Farey develops some interesting ideas arising from an email discussion he had with Anthony Kellett last December.

The story is one with which we are all very familiar. On 18 May 1593 the Privy Council issued a "warrant to Henry Maunder one of the Messengers of her Majesty's Chamber to repair to the house of Mr. Thomas Walsingham in Kent, or to any other place where he shall understand Christofer Marlow to be remaining, and by virtue hereof to apprehend and bring him to the Court in his Company. And in case of need to require aid."1

Most commentators point out that this standard wording indicates that he was not charged with any offence, and that there isn't really any implication of his being expected to resist. However, they do assume that this warrant had been issued at a meeting of the Council itself, and as a result of the members having been told of Thomas Kyd's arrest and the "vile heretical conceits" which he claimed to be Marlowe's found in his dwelling. Other than A.D. Wraight, who wrongly believed that it was the Court of Star Chamber he was to attend,2 all biographers up to and including Charles Nicholl,3 and David Riggs4 seem to have followed William Urry's5 lead in thinking that "the Court" referred to was the royal one, which it was, but had this wrongly located at Greenwich, when in fact it was at Nonsuch Palace in Surrey.6

The problem is that there is no record of there having been a meeting of the Privy Council on 18 May and, even though the court had moved from Croydon to Nonsuch before then, none of their meetings were held at Nonsuch before the afternoon of 31 May. All of their meetings over that period (16, 23, 25, 29 and the morning of 31 May) were held in the Star Chamber in Westminster Palace―which may explain Wraight's mistake.

So how is it that the warrant was issued on 18 May? The last minuted Privy Council meeting preceding that date was two days earlier (16 May) and was attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Whitgift), Lord Keeper (Puckering), Lord Treasurer (Burghley), Lord Derby, Lord Chamberlain (Hunsden), Lord Buckhurst, Sir John Wolley and Sir John Fortescue.7 It therefore seems likely that the decision to call Marlowe in for questioning was taken then. It would be issued to Henry Maunder, a messenger of the Queen's chamber, which as we now know was then located at Nonsuch. We also know (because of another warrant signed by him on 18 May)8 that Burghley was at Nonsuch on that date. So it seems quite likely that Burghley―or, if also there, one of the others present on 16 May―used the opportunity to issue the warrant on the Council's behalf. Whoever it was that issued it, however, they don't seem to have accorded it much urgency.

We don't know whether Marlowe actually was at Scadbury, of course, only that he might be found there and that the person signing the warrant appeared to be aware of that possibility. If it was Burghley who signed it, then this would presumably have been because Marlowe was one of his agents. However, when Marlowe turned up to report to their lordships two days later the note does refer to him as being "of London."

Where did Maunder take him on the 20th, and what happened when they got there? We have seen that the warrant was probably signed at Nonsuch, so the words "bring him to the Court" seem to indicate that this was where he was meant to go. As the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) says, the word bring "implies motion towards the place where the speaker or auditor is, or is supposed to be."

Yet once again there was apparently no meeting of the Privy Council that day, whether at Nonsuch or at Westminster. All we have is the bald statement that "being sent for by warrant from their Lordships, Christofer Marley of London, gent, hath entered his appearance accordingly for his Indemnity therein;9 and is commanded to give his daily attendance on their Lordships, until he shall be licensed to the contrary."

So what's going on? The obvious answer must be that Marlowe turned up at Nonsuch on 20 May, only to be told by some official that they weren't there right now but, given what they had said, he really should keep turning up until they were. But was he released on bail? This is undoubtedly what most biographers think,10 but it really doesn't say that. According to the OED the only definition of indemnity apparently in use at that time was "Security or protection against contingent hurt, damage, or loss." So, since the indemnity is his and not theirs, it must be saying that he has entered his appearance in the record as a protection against his being accused of having ignored their lordships' command. The word therein clearly refers to the "warrant from their Lordships" and the terms "therein."

It is reasonable to assume, I think, that Marlowe did appear (presumably at Nonsuch) each day, but there were no Privy Council meetings for him to attend. However it is of course possible that on 22 May he was told that they would be meeting at the Star Chamber on the following day, and that he should present himself there. If he did, he would have found Whitgift, Puckering, Burghley, Derby, Buckhurst and Fortescue waiting for him. From Kyd's testimony it seems that Marlowe must have admitted to them that the "vile heretical" fragment did belong to him,11 but that this is fairly easily explained away, given that it is an extract from a refutation of the anti-Trinitarian argument. Someone with Marlowe's gift for words should have had no difficulty with that.

At this point speculation must take over, however. Puckering will have already heard the more damaging aspects of Kyd's testimony, confessed under torture; Drury has also included dangerous accusations about Marlowe in his "Remembrances" and, even if the "Baines Note" itself may not yet have been delivered, there is a fair probability that Puckering already had a very good idea of the contents of that too. In particular, there is enough evidence for Marlowe to be accused of having written an article or book
on atheism which is being used for subversive purposes. We may presume that Whitgift and Puckering would insist that trial and execution are the only possibilities. In opposition, as Marlowe's probable employer for many years, Burghley is appalled. He wants him saved―not only because of Marlowe's past services to the queen, but because of his extraordinary ability with words which, if used properly, could be of enormous benefit to the state. That Marlowe may know things which Burghley would not want revealed under torture is also a possibility.

There appears to be a complete impasse. Whitgift and Puckering want him tried and executed. Burghley and Derby (himself a lover of poets and actors, and still the patron of a company of players) want him saved. As Burghley's friend, and working for him as under-treasurer and chancellor of the exchequer, Fortescue also probably goes along with him on this. But why on earth did the Council apparently agree to let him go? With the sort of information now being gathered one would have expected him to be held in custody pending the arrival of all the written testimony at least.

At this point I think that Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst, may have come into the picture. As the joint author of Gorboduc, the first English play written in blank verse, and a fine poet in his own right,12 we may reasonably assume that his sympathies would have been with a fellow poet and playwright whom he cannot fail to have admired enormously, Marlowe. On the other hand, he had apparently been involved with Puckering in Drury's machinations against him. As a first cousin of the queen's mother, Anne Boleyn, Buckhurst had the Queen's ear in a way that few others could match and, as the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography puts it, "He acquired a reputation for impartiality, courage, and plain speaking since his kinship with the queen largely enabled him to avoid factions at court."

So, with Burghley's side perhaps prepared to accept exile for Marlowe but not death and Whitgift's insisting that exile wasn't enough of a deterrent, I can imagine Buckhurst suddenly saying "I think I can see a possible way out of this. Couldn't we make everyone just believe that he was dead?"


Marlowe would not have been released, but held incommunicado at Westminster while the plans were laid, in particular the bringing in of Thomas Walsingham to plan and organize the deception. Poley, if he could be recalled from the Netherlands in time, would supervise it on the day itself and thereafter. On 25 May, the Privy Council met again in the Star Chamber with the same six members present, checked on progress, and possibly told Marlowe of what they had decided. It was made quite clear what was expected of him if his life was to be saved and just what the penalty would be if he failed to meet the terms of the deal in any way. The possibility of an eventual pardon if he toed the line was also indicated. There apparently being no alternative―other than torture, trial and execution―he accepted.

We are told that the Baines Note was "delivered" no more than three days prior to the "sudden and fearful end of (Marlowe's) life." Exactly three days earlier would have been on the Sunday before Whitsun (i.e. 27 May) rather than "Whitsun eve" (i.e. 2 June) as the endorsement on the document, quite impossibly, also claims. But what is not clear is whether "delivered" referred to Baines's delivery of his note to Puckering or to the date it went to the Queen,13 as we know it did at some point. Assuming the latter, with Puckering having actually received it some days earlier, under the scenario described here 27 May was when he (or they) would have taken it to the Queen and informed her of the Privy Council's opinion as to what should be done about it.

On 29 May the Privy Council was attended by far more of its members than usual. Derby couldn't make it, but they were joined by Lord Admiral (Howard), Lord Chamberlain (Hunsdon), the Earl of Essex, Sir John Wolley and Sir Robert Cecil. They were told what had been decided and put in place. Nothing of this was put in writing, but at the end of the meeting Lord Chief Justice Popham was asked to join them and add his signature to those of Whitgift and Puckering on the warrant for John Penry to be executed later that same day. The deception had begun.14

© Peter Farey, 2011

Peter Farey, a founding member of the International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society, is the 2007 recipient of the Calvin & Rose G. Hoffman Prize, administered annually by The King's School in Canterbury for a "distinguished publication on Christopher Marlowe."

Notes Emmerich Anonymous film Shakespeare
1National Archive, Acts of the Privy Council, 18 May 1593. I have modernized the spelling of all quotations.
2Wraight, A. D. & Virginia Stern. 1965. In Search of Christopher Marlowe. MacDonald & Co., p.283.
3Nicholl, Charles. 2002. The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe. Vintage, p.20.
4Riggs, David. 2004. The World of Christopher Marlowe. Faber & Faber, p.331.
5Urry, William. 1988. Christopher Marlowe and Canterbury. Faber & Faber, p.81.
6First pointed out by William Honey in 1983 and repeated without acknowledgment by his fellow Marlovian A.D. Wraight in 1995; this important information had to wait for "official" acceptance ten years later in Park Honan's 2005 biography Christopher Marlowe, Poet & Spy (Oxford, p.354).
7Wraight (p.285) had precisely the same list of members being present when he appeared on 20 May, but there is no evidence supporting this, and she may have simply got the dates mixed up.
8There is the record of a payment to "Romano Cavaliere: upon a warrant signed by the Lord Treasurer dated at the Court the 18th day of May 1593, for bringing of letters in post ... to the Court at Nonsuch."
9Most transcripts give this as "herein" but it is fairly clearly "therein," as Wraight's copy of the entry itself (p.284) shows that the first letters are exactly the same as those of the word "their" in the line above it.
10Wraight (p. 284), Nicholl (p. 54), Riggs (p. 325) and Honan (p. 336) all use the word "bail" in this context.
11I am grateful to Daryl Pinksen who first explained this to me and convinced me he was right.
12In fact a good case for Buckhurst having been the author of Shakespeare's works―called The Swallow and the Crow―was presented by Sabrina Feldman PhD in last year's The Oxfordian.
13Thanks to Ros Barber for pointing out this ambiguity.
14Dave More was the first to argue that Penry's body was the one used for the faking, a suggestion accepted by most, if not all, Marlovians these days even if not all are aware of who originally made it.

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