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


ElviraCardigan said...

Peter (and all)

Interesting and thoughtful article. Can I gab this chance to say a few general things about the Marlowe/Shakespeare thing?

I've only been reading about all this for about a week. I'm agnostic and new to it all, though I previously dabbled a little in the whole 'Oxford was Shakespeare' thing, just enough to know he pretty obviously wasn't!

The Marlowe theory is a very different thing - and from what I've read so far it's tantalisingly plausible. But, can I offer the thought that it's not always well-served by the way in which it's being promoted here and elsewhere (I'm not really addressing Peter, whose work tends to be much more cautiously-worded, but I'm thinking specifically of Daryl Pinken's book, which I have just finished reading, and of those other examples where "of course we all believe..." becomes the rallying cry)

Speaking for myself, I am instantly turned off by anyone who claims a theory as certitude. By anything that looks like a somewhat biased reading. The whole tenor of 'we all BELIEVE...' gives the feeling of a cult of the faithful, rather than of an ongoing enquiry. It deters rather than engaging.

I suggest, the material you're all working with is too good to be marginalised by this kind of over-zealous presentation. Daryl, I loved your book in so many ways, but couldn't help cringing every time you said something like 'but if we only accept Marlowe was Shakespeare it all makes sense'.

Oh dear. Just wait a minute. Accepting Shakespeare wasn't Shakespeare is nothing like as obviously-Occam as all that! Step back, be a little more cautious and academic. Try saying "does the Marlowe/Shakespeare scenario fit the facts any better?" Try indeed just presenting the facts and allowing them to speak for themselves. They would, believe me. Your exhortations serve more to distract and weaken than persuade and illuminate.

If you, Daryl, and others here could only alter the tone just a little. If you could suggest possibilities rather than certainties. If you could be seen as exploring an idea, not asserting a belief, it'd be so much more accessible to people like me, who are just looking to find a good objective source of information.

The case for Marlowe *possibly* being S is *so* good, so obviously worthy of further exploration you don't need to over sell it. It's a situation where less is very definitely more.

Sam Blumenfeld said...

Dear Elvira Cardigan, I hope you will read The Marlowe-Shakespeare Connection. I do speculate about things we cannot know for sure. But I believe that speculation is called for when dealing with a subject like this one. As you say, one need not oversell the thesis, since so much circumstantial evidence points to Marlowe.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sam -

firstly thanks for your response. I would *love* to read your book, but the price is daunting me I'm afraid. However, I have read much of your theory expressed here and elsewhere. As I've already said, I think the basic idea that Marlowe's death was faked and that he survived somehow to write the 'Shakespeare' plays is a lot more rational and conceivable than it first appears.

That's why I'm still here :-)

But I think you guys do need to recognise that *superficially* it sounds supremely nuts to say 'Shakespeare didn't write his plays, Marlowe did'. Because an obvious first reason for assuming authorship is the presence of the name on the title page. That's not a small, irrelevant, detail. It's pretty darn big and important. To suggest anything but the simplest explanation for that fact requires a very very good reason.

As it happens, you do possess some very intriguingly good reasons. And because the data is actually so good, if you confine yourselves to simply presenting it in as un-contrived and un-adorned way possible, it will sell itself, despite the obvious initial sense of 'wtf'?


The minute you start over-egging the pudding - the minute you start saying, "but we all BELIEVE Marlowe wrote the plays, and nothing else makes sense." or claiming he was a red-blooded hetero who rampantly sired babies all over the place, even though the only comment ever made about his sexuality by a contemporary says the exact opposite, or claiming you *know* he was a page some place and had sex with very passive ladies - you're going to lose your credibility,. Inevitably. Because a. you swamp the good data in reckless certitude and groundless speculation, and b. your theory becomes a straw man, erected by your own kind self, to be easily knocked down.

In that sense, by introducing too much "well, of course we just *know*" type stuff, and too much utterly baseless additional fact-making, you are doing the Stratfordian's work for them.

Sure, a certain amount of speculation is inevitable.
Just don't go too far, don't sound too consumed with certainty, don't turn into a Marlovian Rowse. Don't forget we are all only dealing with shades of maybe.

That's all.

Daryl Pinksen said...

Hi Elvira,

You've composed an entirely valid critique of my 2008 book. If I had my time back, I would have toned down the sections where it appears I'm presenting the theory as a certainty. The book's tagline says, "Marlowe's Ghost explores the possibility that. . . " but I wasn't strict enough in maintaining the tones of "exploration" or "possibility." If I had, I believe the book would have been the better for it.

Thanks for reading and commenting,


Daryl Pinksen

Peter Fareyy said...


Thank you for your kind comments.

It is often easier to say that one "believes" something as a form of shorthand for saying that one finds it to be of a significantly higher probability than something else. However, you are of course right to remind us that such words are best avoided in trying to persuade the more thoughtful reader of the merits of our case. The whole question of apparent certainty is something which several of us have discussed at length and about which there is little disagreement. However, we have no control over who can claim to be a Marlovian, nor over what they choose to say about what they "believe".

In Daryl's defence, however, and taking account of his remarks about his book, I must say that I find it hard to accept that you could find any example of what you warn against either in Daryl's posts to this group or, perhaps of more significance, in the website of the International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society which he both edits and manages on our behalf.


ElviraCardigan said...

Daryl - thank you for your honesty and modesty, it's a rare quality in anyone, particularly authors, to be able to graciously acknowledge criticism. But don't forget the praise too - I think your book does a very fine job of presenting the data and I really enjoyed reading it. Will you be getting a second edition? I'd be interested to know what other changes or additions you'd want to make?

One thing I'd be very interested to see is a frank discussion of all the *best* evidence that Shakespeare might have been 'Shakespeare'. Not a rebuttal, just a simple statement of the best case that can be made. For all the prevalence of the Stratfordian POV a basic overview of the supporting data, without embellishment, is remarkably hard to come by. It'd help clarify things, as well as dispel any idea of special pleading if such an outline could be presented - maybe here? If it's as weak as it appears to be, then a completely objective summary will actually strengthen the alternative case.

Sam - I do appreciate what you say, and really hope I haven't seemed disparaging to either you or Daryl. I am massively appreciative of the work you've done - in fact I've been absorbed in it almost non-stop for the last week :-) So please accept my thanks and my admiration.


Peter Farey said...

Elvira said "For all the prevalence of the Stratfordian POV a basic overview of the supporting data, without embellishment, is remarkably hard to come by."

In my opinion, the best and simplest statement of what Stratfordians believe and the evidence upon which that belief is based is one produced by Tom Reedy and Dave Kathman which (ironically given your earlier remarks) they called "How do we know that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare?"

I would accept virtually everything they say, other than this conclusion. I think that a more accurate statement of what their evidence shows is that most people at the time believed the works to have been written by him, a conclusion which is not quite the same thing! It's at


ElviraCardigan said...

Hey Peter - thanks for the link, I've just been reading it.

Hmmm...The majority of it seems to be nothing but a repetition of the 'he wrote it because his name is on it' argument, which while obviously valid up to a point doesn't really address any of the stuff you are actually saying. I mean - yeah, sure, we all *know* his name was on it. Surely only an idiot thinks that means we can just ignore any evidence that suggests other possibilities.

But what interests me is the small handful of evidence that *does* seem to suggest Jonson and others are actually identifying Shakespeare of Stratford as the author. Am I getting this wrong? This is what they are doing, isn't it?

So, why is this not good evidence that Shakespeare was indeed 'Shakespeare'? Was Jonson lying? Or was he just out of the loop and really believed what he was saying?

And how does the theory M survived at Deptford jive with his total failure to ever appear again? Would he have had a motive to remain hidden for the rest of his life? Wouldn't the death of Elizabeth and the succession of James (his possible protector) have meant he could re-emerge from hiding?

These areas seem to me the weakest in the Marlowe=Shakespeare theory. Can they be addressed?

daver852 said...

This explanation makes perfect sense to me. We know that Richard Cholmeley was arrested on June 28, 1593, and seems to disappear from the historical record after that date. I find it curious, however, that The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare makes mention of a Richard Chomeley who was the patron of a group of "recusant players" who toured Yorkshire from 1606 to 1616 and performed "Pericles" and "King Lear." Any chance these could be the same person?

Dan Sayers said...

It would be good to have a similar summation of Marlovian evidence. Stratfordians are correct that the name on the title pages is strong evidence - to my mind the only thing we Marlovians have along these lines is Peter's solving of the riddle on the Stratford Monument, which is in fact a strong piece of (albeit obfuscated) evidence, as it is, as far as I'm aware, the only interpretation which makes sense.

Other than that, the best we have is the autobiographical interpretation of the sonnets - Shakespeare scholars are in a tough position trying to argue that these have no autobiographical basis, when they so clearly read as if they do; and stylistic similarities: in my opinion the best offering here is Donna Murphy's Hoffman Prize winning text, which I greatly look forward to seeing published.

Peter Farey said...

ElviraCardigan said...
"But what interests me is the small handful of evidence that *does* seem to suggest Jonson and others are actually identifying Shakespeare of Stratford as the author. Am I getting this wrong? This is what they are doing, isn't it?"

No I think you are right. And this is an area which has so far been inadequately dealt with by any non-Stratfordians, not just us.

As I see it, at any one point in time those who had heard of Shakespeare as a writer were divided into (1) those who simply accepted that he had written the works, (2) those who realised that he hadn't, but had no idea of who had - and probably didn't care either - and (3) those who knew who the real author was. To this we need to add the question of just when each individual moved from one stage to another, if they ever did! For example, I would claim that Ben Jonson would have certainly been in on the loop (assuming there was one) at the time the First Folio was produced, but I wouldn't care to hazard a guess as to just when he was brought into it. Similarly, we must assume that the people who were fully aware of the situation knew that it would be most unwise not to go along with the party line on it, even in private papers which might come to light one day.

What we really should do is to take each of those quotations in turn, and consider in every case just what the author may have known at the time, and why he would have written what he did. Up until now, however, I must confess that this has been mostly hidden away in my "too difficult" drawer!

ElviraCardigan said...
"Wouldn't the death of Elizabeth and the succession of James (his possible protector) have meant he could re-emerge from hiding?"

I dunno. I think that Sonnet 107 (if written by Marlowe) indicates that he did indeed believe that such a thing might be possible. On the other hand, if he tested the water, I find quite easy to imagine James baulking at allowing (apparently with his blessing) the reappearance of someone with the appalling reputation for atheism (etc.) that Marlowe had by then. Better to let sleeping dogs lie, don't you think? Elizabeth, Whitgift and Burghley may have gone, but Archbishop Bancroft would have been no less hostile than his predecessor, and Walsingham and Cecil (who were most probably involved in the deception) had far more to lose by then.

This is not to say that he couldn't have returned to England, and lived a relatively comfortable low-profile life among friends, even if he could never, as Marlowe, get the credit for what he wrote behind another's name.


Peter Farey said...

"daver852" asked "Any chance these could be the same person?"

No, I don't think so.

According to David Kathman's Biographical Index of English Drama Before 1660 Sir Richard Cholmley (c.1580-1632) was "Actor in academic play (Trinity, Cambridge, 1598); patron (1602-9)." One of Dave's sources is Venn's Alumni Cantabrigienses, which has the following entry at

CHOLMELY, RICHARD. Matric. Fell.-Com. from TRINITY, c.1595. S. of Sir Henry, of Whitby, Yorks. Age 4 in 1584. Knighted 1603. M.P. for Scarborough, 1620-1. Died Sept. 23, 1631. Buried at Whitby...

So in 1593 this guy would have been only 13.


ElviraCardigan said...

Peter -

Firstly (at risk of fawning), I am becoming a huge fan of your approach and your work. It's a personal foible of mine that I prefer history and biography to focus on data rather than extremely attenuated readings of an author's fiction. I'm attracted to anything that takes a rigorous, 'scientific' approach. It reassures me ;-)

I think your suggestion of taking each person and doing a 'timeline' of what they could/would have known is exactly what's needed. Take the bull by the horns as it were.

I admit the Jonson-thing bothers me. There's a fine line between explaining and explaining away. I'm afraid any attempt to deal with the Jonson et al might easily aim to be the first but become the latter, you know?

Just to clarify my own mind at this point, I'd like to go over the situation as I see it (bear with me, or just skip it ;-) )

The way I see it, most non-Stratfordian argument is argument from absence, viz - no one has shown Shakespeare capable of writing 'Shakespeare' and no one has proved Shakespeare *did* write 'Shakespeare' so maybe Oxford/Bacon/Queen Elizabeth etc did. The texts are then combed for biographical references either overtly present or encoded therein. And such textual 'proof' has been claimed for all the candidates by their various supporters.

Is that fair?

Seems to me all such arguments founder on the conspicuous absence of anything like objective positive data. No obvious reason has been adduced why these candidates would want to perpetrate such a large scale subterfuge. And, most importantly,
textual comparisons show no marked similarities of style, theme and *talent* between the candidate of choice and 'Shakespeare'.

I think any objective observer would have to admit the Marlowe theory is obviously different.

Unlike all the others, it does contain strong, if circumstantial, positive evidence, viz. *very* good reason why he would need to employ an alias, and *very* strong similarities of style between his work and 'Shakespeare'.

And not only that, but 'Shakespeare' appears as an author just weeks after Marlowe's supposed death.

Ok, this is all very powerful. And it puts the case in a completely different bracket from all the pseudo-historical nonsense of the Bacon/Oxford etc school, There really *is* a series of anomalies here that deserve attention being paid.

The question I'm hung up on is - are these anomalies strong enough to justify dismissing Jonson et al identifying Shakespeare as 'Shakespeare'? I mean, these people were actually there. They knew more than we do. Can we really, ever, dismiss them entirely just because of Marlowe's strange 'death' and the fact he wrote almost exactly like young Shakespeare?

I honestly don't know! I'm genuinely and completely unsure. The way I see it, the evidence is so completely in balance that to come down on either side as a believer for or against is to immediately be guilty of selectivity!

That's what's so fascinating!

I wish there was a group of 'God-knows-who-wrote-the-damn-things-ites'. I'd join like a shot. ;-)

Chris Cassin said...

In relation to Elvira Cardigan’s posts, it is great to see another person being entrapped in this authorship web. And I like the sound of her proposed new group!

As an embarrassingly credulous English graduate, I gave little thought to the authorship question until I read John Michell’s Who wrote Shakespeare?. Having read much more on this since, including the excellent Shakespeare’s unorthodox biography (Diane Price), I am firmly of the view that Shakespeare is at best an improbable author. The lack of any personal contemporary evidence linking William of Stratford to any writing or literary activity is astonishing and damning; the illiterate children too much to bear. It’s been said before, but I would love to see a respected historian look at the whole question.

Marlowe is a very tempting candidate, which is why I read this excellent website. But whilst the stylistic match is alluring, there is still the lack of evidence of writing activity after May 1593 if one accepts the faked death theory. I agree that Peter Farey’s analysis of the “Read if thou canst” Stratford monument is very intriguing and does seem to point to Marlowe (or the puzzle may have been placed there by someone who wanted to do so).

I find Bacon under-rated as a candidate. What would a Stratfordian give for the Promus notebook or the strong circumstantial evidence associating Bacon with Comedy of Errors and Love’s Labour’s Lost. (See relatively recent books by Nigel Cockburn and Barry Clarke on these points and much more).

It is all a great fascinating puzzle which is not acknowledged by the resolutely myopic Stratfordians, who prefer to brush questioners aside with accusations of snobbery, madness or conspiracy.

Sam Blumenfeld said...

Hi Chris,

One of the reasons why I urge doubters to read my book is because I made a study of all 36 plays in the First Folio and found numerous Marlovian clues, clues which only Marlowe could have implanted in the plays. As I've told many doubters, please read Marlowe's plays before your read all of the plays in the First Folio, otherwise you will miss all of the clues Marlowe put in them. I particularly stess reading Dido by Marlowe before reading Hamlet which has one of the most obvious clues in the scene in which Hamlet asks the actors to give him a sample of their acting art. Marlowe had to have written Hamlet for all of that to make sense. Stratfordians who have not read Marlowe haven't a clue to go by.

Anthony Kellett said...

Hi Elvira,

Personally, I find your summary (of the ‘authorship question’) well put.

As for your final part (regarding “Jonson et al”; the “evidence is so completely in balance” and your desire for an ‘on the fence’ group), I fully appreciate your dilemma. I, too, am similarly reluctant to declare myself a Marlovian (in the true sense of the word).

I think the case for the Stratford man, being the author, is more problematic, than it is for Marlowe's claim. For me, it boils down to the difficulty with Marlowe’s case being explaining why some did not know he survived and wrote these works. With ‘Stratford Shakespeare’, it is a case of trying to explain how on earth he was capable of these works. These are works that reflect nothing of his biography; contain much to which he would not have had access; and demonstrate expertise (and experience) that we cannot explain how he accumulated. I think the case for Marlowe is less problematic; and, therefore, not quite as “balanced” as you imply.

Nevertheless, I am still well short of declaring my final verdict, for many of the reasons you point out. However (and notwithstanding the fact that Marlowe is my current ‘best bet’), I find Marlovians, generally, are more balanced in their approach. Many of the articles, you read here, are the result of substantial peer-review, prior to publication (often with the effect of eliminating the kind of unsubstantiated assumptions or declarations to which you seem to take exception). The goal, of the majority, is not to persuade the world of Marlowe’s authorship; but rather to open the subject to scholarly debate, with a view to establishing the truth. Many of the articles here are based, unashamedly, on some supposition or other; and explore ‘what if’ scenarios. I see that as being important to the whole process. Exploring such ideas, whilst they may be speculation to the writer, could be the missing piece of the jigsaw, to others, who may be in possession of evidence to support a particular theory (which might not have occurred to them, alone). Failing that, it could inspire lines of research and enquiry that would not have been explored, otherwise.


Anthony Kellett said...


In conclusion, it would be nonsensical to deny that most here would wish Marlowe to be revealed as the author. However, I would say that, even if you are some way short of coming out of the Marlovian closet, you could do far worse than explore these ideas with the people, to whom you find access, here. You will find it a far less frustrating experience; particularly when you propose something that contradicts established beliefs. If you do that in an Oxfordian or Stratfordian ‘arena’, you will be dismissed, out of hand, as either something akin to a “holocaust denier”, a “snob” or simply, a “conspiracy theorist”. This is not helpful; and does not further the debate.

Kindest regards


ElviraCardigan said...

Chris -
Maybe we should start the 'God-Knows-Who-Wrote-Shakespeare' Society? ;-)

I appreciate your frustration with the superficial. I know you've constructed a painstaking case that needs to be considered just as painstakingly to be understood. And I do also think that textual comparisons between M and S are quite legitimate, and a very different thing from mining those texts for hidden meanings, anagrams and coded messages (which I'm much less happy with). I know your book would be very rewarding reading, and I plan to get a copy ASAP!

Anthony K wrote:
I think the case for the Stratford man, being the author, is more problematic, than it is for Marlowe's claim.

Actually I think the two are both entirely problematic - in different ways! Shakespeare is the better candidate to the extent his name is on the plays and a few people who knew him talked as if they thought he wrote them, but he's problematic in every other way. Marlowe is problematic because his name was never associated with the plays and he was legally dead after 1593, but he's a better candidate in every other way! That is what is so compelling about this debate.

I absolutely agree that Marlovians seem, on the whole, far more open to debate, doubt and challenge than most other anti-Stratfordians, and I suspect it's because the case is so different? The case to be made for Oxford et al (maybe I shouldn't include Bacon here?) tend to be of the 'conspiracy-theory', no-one-can-prove-this-didn't-happen type, which attracts a certain kind of true-believer, and easily creates a paradigm of blind and almost irrational conviction. The case for Marlowe is much more well-supported and intricate, and possibly attracts those more interested in unearthing facts than constructing reasons to believe?

Anyhow, whatever the reason, this place and this subject are amazing!

Final thing - what do people here think of M. Le Doux?


Anonymous said...

Hello to Peter and everybody who commented so thoughtfully on this thread,
While Peter's post certainly deserves more attention, I want to use this thread for a first time comment, since it seems to be more open than others.
First things first: Thanks to everybody who organizes, posts or comments on this intriguing website,which I have followed for some time now.
Elvira's comments and the fair and thoughtful answers she got, caused me to give up my position as a lurker and try to contribute some of my own thoughts and experiences (please be kind:English is not my native language), especially, since I had a discussion of the authorship conundrum with some leading theoretical physicists just yesterday evening. As I fully expected I was slammed with Occam's razor and the label "conspiracy theorist". Now, I'm a great fan of Brother Occam and his razor,if used properly, but I have found, that it is misused too often as an excuse for not getting familiar with all the facts of a disputed case(some of them newly discovered), and for sloppy and lazy reasoning.
What brought me on Marlowe's case was this: As my moniker says, I'm a criminal and forensic psychologist with some training in law. When I got interested in the authorship question and started to delve deeper into the facts, we know about Shakespeare, as well as the ones, we do NOT know, I realized, that the psychological profile of the genius, who wrote some of the greatest literature ever written, just does not fit the Merchant from Stratford, and it has nothing to do with his humble origins; Marlowe was of humble origins as well. Being a genius is part genes, part nurture and part knowledge( or access to knowledge). And with a literary genius, biographical events and experiences are responsible for the output as well. Since the sonnets are deeply and hauntingly personal in style and content, they convinced me more than anything else, that the guy from Stratford just could not be the author of them.The notion, that the sonnets were just some style exercise, is laughable. Everything we know about the origins of creativity, says: NO. A lot of them were shaped by an adventurous life, tragical experiences and a consuming feeling of guilt and shame.
Now, but someone must have written the stuff, and the only literary genius around at the time, who fits the profile, was Marlowe. That he was supposedly dead, when Shakespeare's stuff appeared out of nowhere, arroused my my criminal instincts. I began asking myself, if there was a way around this conundrum. That's what led me to this highly knowledgeable website, and this website led me to Professor Bastian Conrad and his new and very intriguing book, I'm reading at the moment.Conrad is a retired German professor of neurology, and he comes from the same corner as me, that is, the psychological profile does not fit the Merchant of Stratford. If anyone is interested, I might like to write a review, when I'm finished.
I'm running out of time and space, but I might like to do more specific posts later.
p.s: Like other commenters, the fact that Ben Jonson said, Shake-speare has written the stuff, bothers me to no end. In my book, so far no one has come up with a fully convincing explanation.

p.s.: My moniker should have been "criminalpsychologist", but somehow the publishing did not work that way. (???)

Rado Klose said...

As with all Peters' posts this one has provoked some fascinating discussion, particularly as it has opened out Apropos Johnson, who seems to cause some agitation, surely he was neither lying nor truthtelling he was a professional writer providing a bit of publishers puff . presumably for a fee. No profit to be had in exposing the whole thing as a front if that is what it was.

criminalpsychologist said...

Hopefully I have fixed my moniker problem now...

In my post above I expressed my misgivings,shared by others, about Ben Jonson and his apparent affirmation of Shakespeare as THE author. The problem gets even more complicated by the fact, that Jonson has made many snide and disparaging remarks aimed apparently at Shakespeare,before he completely turned around and praised him as the soul for the ages. Was Jonson schizophrenic? Or was he talking about two different persons?
One of the more intriguing chapters in Bastian Conrad's book (which he shortsells completely by suggesting, that the reader can skip it)is about contemporaries of Will and Kit,who seemed to doubt Shakespeare's authorship. Conrad cites a lot of material, that was,at least to me, completetly new. If he is right, a lot of people were in the loop, which is very plausible, since you cannot have something of this magnitude under complete wraps, and artists recognize their own. In my book Jonson's blatant contradictions in his remarks about Shakespeare weakens his value as THE crown witness of Stratfordians considerably.Jonson was a shrewed and intelligent fellow, and there is a reason for his complete turnaround. My wild guess is, that the project First Folio was only possible with Shakespeare's name on it, with Marlowe being still persona non grata, and if Jonson wanted to give the author the fully deserved praise, there was no other way than to adress the name on the folio, hoping that enough people would still know the name of the true author.

Peter Farey said...

ElviraCardigan said... "I honestly don't know! I'm genuinely and completely unsure. The way I see it, the evidence is so completely in balance that to come down on either side as a believer for or against is to immediately be guilty of selectivity!"

The event which significantly shifted the balance of probability in Marlowe's favour for me was my stumbling upon the alternative meaning for the poem on the monument, which Dan Sayers and Chris Cassin have been kind enough to mention. Before that I too had always protested at being called a 'Marlovian' because of the certainty which the word seemed to imply.

Even then, it was not until I began to understand that simply finding this possible meaning wasn't enough, but that I was also able to show why it couldn't have occurred accidentally, that I began to be really convinced by it.

Doubts must still remain of course, as Chris has reminded us. Way back in my youth I was briefly in the Intelligence Corps, and we were taught to assess the reliability of information on the basis of (a) how likely it was that the informant was in a position to know the truth about whatever it was and (b) how likely they were to be telling the truth about what they 'knew'. Same applies here!


Peter Farey said...

ElviraCardigan said..."Final thing - what do people here think of M. Le Doux?"

Well I'm a bit biased, I suppose, since most of what we know about the guy (at least in 1595/6) was originally researched and written up by me! Most of Part II of A. D. Wraight's book "Shakespeare: New Evidence" (the 'Le Doux' bit) is in fact still as I first wrote it. The book actually started life as an (unsuccessful) entry for the Hoffman prize which we had co-authored.

What was fascinating about that project was that it all arose from Dolly Wraight's "hunch" that the "M. Le Doux" mentioned (by Birch) simply as an intelligence gatherer for Essex might have been Marlowe. We knew nothing else about him, yet he was gradually revealed as a highly credible candidate. You can imagine the surprise and pleasure I got in seeing the words "Titus Andronicus" on a bit of paper jutting out below the one I was actually looking at, and in coming across a list of books of his, several of which I recognized as sources of both Marlowe's and Shakespeare's works. Now that's what I call a coincidence!

Not all of the things we first got excited about have stood the test of time, of course, and I am perhaps slightly less convinced that it was Marlowe than I was originally. Having said that, however, I have within the last day or two quite coincidentally sent an item to Carlo for this blog, which does add one more piece of evidence in support of the identification.


Dan Sayers said...

Further to my previous point about evidence from the sonnets (and with apologies to Peter for further derailing this post, which seems to me a highly cogent and valid interpretation of the evidence), there is one point of interpretation of Sonnet 112, that I mentioned to Donna Murphy, which might be of interest to folks here:

The last line, in which the author states "all the world besides me thinks y'are dead" has been the source of some confusion. Several editions have changed the line to "all the world besides methinks are dead" or similar. Donna thinks the poem may refer to Nashe, who she believes also faked his death in order to continue writing under the name of Thomas Dekker. On the assumption that the poem does refer to someone else "thought dead", then the line may be interpreted to state that "all the world" thinks this (unnamed) person, as well as the author are dead. Thus the sonnet can be interpreted as saying that the author of the sonnets is thought to be deceased by the world - thus forming another piece of evidence for the Marlovian hypothesis.

I thought I'd mention it here, as I haven't seen it discussed elsewhere.

N.B. Cynthia Morgan's essay is also very much worth reading for an understanding of this dense and cryptic sonnet.

tim.nash said...

Perhaps a better approach would be to consider who, apart from Marlowe, would have gained from his reappearance astride the London stage?

James was new to the throne and was yet to feel secure.

The established church would have railed against the return to favour of a known atheist, especially with Whitgift out of the picture.

For Cecil and other politicians in the know, helping Marlowe escape with his life would have absolved any conscience they had. Far better that Marlowe helped England from abroad and the conspiracy stayed hidden. After all the plays still appeared even if Shakespeare's name was attached.

For Jonson and other playwrights, Marlowe would have been competition for the limited patronage available.

In short, Marlowe lacked the influential friends necessary for a return to public life.

criminalpsychologist said...

Peter (and others),

Since this blog directed me to his website (unfortunately closed down now), do you know anything at all about Bastian Conrad's German language book about Marlowe as Shakespeare? I am not trying to advertise the book (actually IMO it is very uneven); I'm just curious, since authors and material from this site are cited frequently. Of course, since I'm German myself, it's very exiting, to find something about the authorship question in my language. Most people here don't question Shakespeare's authorship at all due to lack of information and the language barrier, and they have never heard of Marlowe.
Since translations of Shakespeare's works into other languages are always interpretations as well, the authorship question assumes special importance here. Many translations into German are really not very straighforward, since the translator couldn't make out, whathehell the author had in mind.

you said, that your turnaround in the authorship question was your alternate reading of the monument and grave stone inscriptions.(Though I think your thoughts are very clever, I'm not quite sold yet, since it seems too complicated and not straightforward enough to me, but of course it could be true anyway).
Now, in an article from last year Maureen Dudd suggested, that the name of the character "Sir Oliver Mar-text" could be an anagram of the Latin sentence "Marlo vir res texit", which could be translated: "The gentleman Marlo has written (or put together) this stuff". I found this highly interesting, because it is a very straighforward, grammatically correct Latin sentence; even the use of the word "vir", which means in a sentence like that more "gentleman" than "man", is correct this way. Many commentors dismissed the idea as unlikely, since Marlowe could't be sure, that an audience would pick up on it orally. Now, some people had to read it (the producer, the actors...) and might guess the meaning, and, as I see it, all those clues (if, that's, what they are), have more the function of messages in a bottle: many will float by unnoticed, but some might be picked up and interpreted correctly. Now, when I read, how "Sir Oliver Mar-text" is called in German, I had my little relevation: This character is often called "Textverdreher" oder "Textdreher", which could be translated back into "text jumbler" or "text shaker". Isn't that exactly, what you do to solve anagrams: you jumble and shake the letters around, until you get some sensible text! You could read the name of this character as an instruction!
Everybody has different lines of reasoning; I like this a lot, especially, since this little Latin sentence has a nice iambus rhythm, fittting for a poet.

daver852 said...

There are at least three contemporary references to Nashe's death, indicating he died in 1600 or 1601. There seems to be no good reason why Nashe would want to fake his death. True, his works were officially "banned," but that didn't stop him from publishing "Lenten Stuff," nor did it prevent the publication of "Summer's Last Will and Testament" (Nashe may have already been dead when it appeared in print). After the furor surrounding "The Isle of Dogs" affair died down, he appears to have carried on much as usual. There are also references to Dekker while Nashe was very much alive. It's a lot easier to believe that Marlowe was Shakespeare than that Nashe was Dekker!

Dan Sayers said...

Anyone else noticed how the surnames of these authors match big-name reggae stars: Nash(e), Dekker, Shakespeare, and of course, Marley? Not developing a theory here, just an observation :)

criminalpsychologist said...

You are on to something :)). Add to this the fact, that one of them is the spitting image of a brilliant rock musician (I might demonstrate this in a lighthearted thread), and we can develope a whole new theory about pacts with the devil!

ElviraCardigan said...

Hi Peter -

The monument inscription is intriguing indeed, but as another commenter here says, I'm not really sold yet. Maybe it's because I don't understand the math behind the calculations of chance, or maybe it's because the message doesn't seem 'solid' enough to be incontrovertibly real. But my opinion here doesn't count for much as I'm not good at codes.

I am reading A.D Wraight's 'The Story the Sonnets tell'. I am having mixed feelings. The first part, that traces the evolution of the Shakespeare myth is highly compelling, and reminds me of the similar section on Lewis Carroll in "In the Shadow of the Dreamchild" ( But then ADW seems to lose her way and becomes engulfed in certitude and romancement. She not only *knows* Marlowe was Shakespeare, she also *knows* about aspects of his personality and private life that are completely undocumented and inaccessible. At times this certitude and invention get so bad she begins reminding me of A.L.Rowse, whose 'biography' of Shakespeare reads more like an historical novel.

It disappoints me no end, as if she'd kept to her early analytical style then her book would have been masterly.

Have any of you read 'In the Shadow of the Deeamchild?' I am thinking there is a desperate need for a similar book about the Shakespeare mystery. A book that is aimed - like the first part of ADW's, only more so - at simply documenting the known facts, tracing the rise of the myth, analysing how the biographers have all contributed more fiction than fact. Another section could exhaustively compare what is known about Shakespeare with what is known about the lives of other contemporary dramatists, and show clearly whether the documentation is really reconcilable with S having been one of the most famous playwrights of his day. A book that avoids advocating any alternative candidates,but just lets the data pretty much speak for itself.

I want to read that book so bad! One of you guys has to write it quick!

Peter Farey said...

Dan Sayers (discussing Sonnet 112, line 14) said...
the line may be interpreted to state that "all the world" thinks this (unnamed) person, as well as the author are dead.

This is true, and your interpretation uses the word "besides" in the way that Shakespeare himself always used it in such a context, and not as "with the exception of" which is how almost every editor seems to take it. Yours is in fact a way of looking at it which I have argued for myself in the past, but now I'm not so sure.

In an email to Cynthia way back in December 2008 I explained how Shakespeare tended to use the word "besides" in this way as well as showing how often he also used the expression "y'are" meaning "you are". I then went on to say:


This being so, the last line can have one of three meanings:

That, as well as thinking that I am dead, all the world thinks you are too.
That all the world, as I do, thinks you are dead.
That, as well as thinking all the world is dead, I think you are too.

Despite the attractions of the first to the Marlovian way of thinking, only the third offers any reasonable link with the body of the poem and a possible (if only tongue in cheek) excuse for his neglect of the addressee. After all, who would not neglect someone if they thought him dead?


In other words you really do need to give a complete explanation of what the whole poem is saying if you are to have any chance of getting right what a single line of it means!


ElviraCardigan said...

Quick addendum -

Sonnet 74 and the way ADW handles it is typical of the problem I have.

ADW presents this sonnet as "undeniably" containing details of Marlowe's arrest and supposed death, and she asks rhetorically, "when was Shakespeare ever arrested and on bail?"

All fine except for the fact the sonnet is *not* about being arrested and on bail - it's quite indisputably and unambiguously using the terms poetically as an allusion to dying and being dead!

So, is she saying that only someone who's been arrested can imagine using the term symbolically?

Quite, quite nuts.

It's maddening, because it seems to me the sonnets do contain a wealth of material that implies someone other than Shakespeare may have written them. There are so many intriguing allusions to banishment, shame, scandal, loss etc. and it's an area that needs careful study. But what does ADW do? She picks one of the weakest, if not entirely spurious, examples, and makes such extreme, unscholarly claims for it, she only succeeds in seeming like a complete dreamer.

You can't help but lose faith in her at this point, (if not before when she starts expatiating on what that nice, sensible Queen Elizabeth thought of quiet, loyal devoted and honourable Thomas Walsingham, all of which is nothing but imagination on her part).

It does the Stratfordians work for them!


Peter Farey said...

criminalpsychologist said (concerning the monument's 'riddle')...
(Though I think your thoughts are very clever, I'm not quite sold yet, since it seems too complicated and not straightforward enough to me, but of course it could be true anyway).

Given that the comprehension of this must have required a familiarity with Jacobean English and a detailed understanding of contemporary word puzzles, it would be astonishing if anyone these days didn't find the explanation of it "too complicated and not straightforward". This doesn't mean, of course that people at the time would have found it so, given a hint or two as to what it really meant. The puzzle itself isn't really complicated at all.

There is right way and a wrong way to assess the validity of an alleged hidden message. Although their book The Shakespearean Ciphers Examined was concerned solely with ciphers (as the title suggests), William and Elizebeth Friedman nevertheless gave some crucial guidance concerning the assessment of any so-called hidden message. Only two of their questions really matter as regards non-ciphers: (1) Does the message say something which means anything? (2) Could this message have occurred randomly?

Things which really are of no consequence are such things as whether one likes the answer, whether it is true or not, whether there is any precedent for the method used, or whether it is easy or difficult to follow. I may add that whether people are sold on it or not is equally irrelevant. What matters is whether the message says something meaningful (which in this case I say it does) and whether a sufficient argument has been presented for it not having come about by accident (which I believe I have done).

So, if you don't accept the findings, what you really have to do is to explain (1) why the message I claim to have found is either based upon false information/reasoning or has nothing meaningful to say, or (2) why the reasons I give for claiming that it cannot have happened by accident are wrong. I'm sorry but one's feelings about it aren't really of very much help!

The latest version of my claim about the 'riddle', which includes the most comprehensive examination of the second part of this argument is at


Dan Sayers said...

criminalpsychologist - that's interesting what you say about Sir Oliver Mar-Text. I'll confess, I wasn't that impressed when I read Maureen Dudd's suggestion here of it being an anagram of "Marlo vir res texit". Partly, though, that is because my Latin is nowhere near good enough to judge the effectiveness of the phrase. It's certainly interesting to hear that it works well in Latin, and, as you point out, it does follow iambic metre. Also the German translation of the name - I wonder who came up with that?

Related to issues of Shakespeare/Marlowe in German - have you read Alex Jack's Hamlet's Ghost - a portion of which may be read here? One thing that might interest you, is he describes how an early German version of the play, Der Bestrafte Brudermord, may be more closely related to the mythical Ur-Hamlet - Hamlet's predecessor, which some think may have been written by Kyd (or Shakespeare / Marlowe). One line I found interesting from that play is where Hamlet mentions that the travelling players' troupe includes female actors. It seems that while female actors were not allowed in England at that time, they were on the continent. A Marlowe forced to travel post-"death" would probably have come into greater contact with these - perhaps this might have inspired the greater female roles we associate with plays from the Shakespearean canon.

In terms of anagrams, cryptograms etc, it's an area which must be approached with caution. One can hardly go far in Shakespeare attribution studies without stumbling across some very questionable 'decodings' of messages within the plays, etc. I think I'm mostly impressed by Peter's discovery of the Monument inscription riddle and it's solution, since it is such a well-rounded solution, containing many aspects which connect together, and is clearly appropriate for the sort of riddles and word play that would have existed at the time. Especially since the monument can be read as telling the reader to look for a solution, and the part detailing Marlowe's name is in a form similar to a rebus, that part makes a lot of sense. The anagram forms only a short part of the riddle, is identified as being an answer to a clue ("whose name ..."), and consists of few enough letters to be credible. Simply looking for anagrams "in the wild" is not good practice, and barely likely to come up with sensible results. I agree though, the name Mar-Text could be taken as a suggestion as to a puzzle being present.

Dan Sayers said...

Having said that looking for anagrams "in the wild" is not a good idea, here seems as good a place as any to share that, a little while ago, I wrote a little computer program to search through the First Folio and Sonnets (original spellings) to try and find anagrams of Marlowe's name (with variations). The program was designed to find the longest strings which contained the letters of some version (e.g. Kit Marloe, Chris Marley etc) of his name, and no letters not contained in that version of his name. I didn't expect to find much, and ... well, I didn't. The only two results that seemed at all promising were as follows:

In the first Folio version of As You Like It, Touchstone, talking about Sir Oliver Martext, says "he is not like to marry me well". In the folio text, the word "marry" is hyphenated across two lines, so the end of the first line is "he is not like to mar-". "Like to mar" is an anagram of "Kit Marloe".

In Sonnet 112, mentioned above. The line For what care I who calles me well or ill contains all the letters of the name "Christofer Marlowe". Also, it only uses letters from that name.

To be honest, I think both of these are of dubious merit, but I thought I'd share them, especially since they came from an automated search of such strings in Shakespeare's works.

Dan Sayers said...

Peter - I certainly agree the analysis of the last line isn't much use without a full analysis of the poem. This, however, evades me, as it has evaded pretty much every scholar that I'm aware of. Of particular difficulty is line 8 - That my steeled sense or changes right or wrong, which is very difficult to interpret any clear meaning from. So opaque, indeed, is this line that I am tempted to say Cynthia's idea of a phonetic pun on "censor" is one of the best options available - since it does at least make more sense than the line as it is.

I disagree with you that of the three options you give, only the third offers a link with the body of the poem. Since a major theme of the sonnet is that the addressee is the author's "all the world" and how important both these are, it would be quite a turnaround to say that he thinks them dead. Also the grammar here would be quite ugly, and such a reading would require reading "me thinks" in the original as "methinks".

The second reading you suggest is the most obvious one suggested by the wording as it stands, but also makes little sense. Hence the puzzle.

The first reading is linked to the rest of the poem - especially the previous line, but also, potentially, "nor I to none alive": depending, of course, on the interpretation of lines 7 and 8. To me the first reading is the strongest, without assuming a misprint, and certainly offers no more of a disjoint in the final couplet than Sonnet 125's "Hence, thou suborned informer!"

While I grant that I can only offer a fragmentary analysis of this poem, I think it is worth making suggestions, since with greater obfuscation there is a chance the author is intimating more interesting autobiographical details. It seems clear to me that this sonnet is using double- and hidden- meanings to express something meaningful to the poet, but not necessarily his readers. In fact, I also think this may be suggested in the sonnet by the use of the word "sense". Usually, it is interpreted that "steeled sense" and "adder's sense" refer to the poet's perceptions - but might they refer to his use of meaning? I.e. steeled (covered) and adder's (duplicitous?) "senses" or "meanings" used to express ideas in a hidden way? Thus In so profound abysm I throw all care / [...] that my adder's sense / To critic and to flatterer stopped are / Mark how with my neglect I do dispense: could be saying, "no-one understands my hidden meaning, so I might as well just come out and say this:"

Anyway, just some thoughts, somewhat short of a full analysis.

Sam Blumenfeld said...

Dear Elvira,

The book you want written already exists. It is Diana Price's Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography. The ideal book you want can't be written quickly. It took me seven years to write my book, and finding a publisher was almost impossible. Read the bibliography in my book. You'll see how daunting such a project can be.

You might try your own hand at it. It will be the greatest learning experience of your life, worthy of a doctorate in letters.

criminalpsychologist said...

Thanks for the reading suggestions. I will check it out for sure.As to the anagrams: I think, it's worth looking for them, since it was a game of the times. Some are more impressive than others, but as I said, they may be like messages in a bottle, most float by, some are picked up. "Sir Oliver Mar-text" impresses me a lot, since the crazy name asks for puzzle solvers, the name Marlo v e is in it anyway, and it's a whole sentence in Latin, not just a name. But to your anagrams: Why should the author have stopped with the name of Sir Oliver? He could have just fooled around a little more; there seems to be a certain playfulness in the writing for sure.
If you do this checking, couldn't you check for anagrams of the names of other candidates as well, just for controll purposes?

Thank you for explaining some more about the monument inscription. You are absolutely right, that I am no expert in early 17th century English, however, after reading your expertise again and again, I can see at least, that the words "Christofer Marley" could be part of the solution of the riddle if there is a riddle. This is not supposed to sound arrogant on my part. You come across as very level headed and thoughtful in your articles, and you have put a lot of thought into this matter. I just want to express, that I can follow you so far; and if Marlowe's name is really hidden in the inscription, that would be monumental indeed. Stratfordians would have a very hard time to explain that away! I have no time to write more, but if I may, I'd like to ask you some more questions about tomb and monument another time.

ElviraCardigan said...

Sam - ooh, excellent! Thank you so much for telling me about that. I HAVE to get a copy (I'm going to be totally broke by the time I've bought this and your book, but I know it'll be worth it).

Peter - ouch! I know you were mostly addressing someone else, but I still feel reprimanded! I did say my opinion wasn't worth much when it comes to codes and rebuses and such. I'm dense about them and can't evaluate them.

I'm wondering how you think the rebus got there (supposing it did of course)? Did some friend of Marlowe's pay a stone mason to put it there? Was it by prior arrangement with the Shakespeare family?

I know you don't have to explain all that in order for your theory to stand, but I'm just curious if you've thought about the pragmatics of how and when and by whom?

Dan -Hmmm...I've been allergic to 'finding' anagrams in an author's work ever since I read a book by a guy who used that method to prove Lewis Carroll was Jack the Ripper!

(err...that's a different book about Carroll from the one I mentioned earlier ;-))

daver852 said...

Elvira, I sympathise with you. I live on a fixed income and have any number of bad habits to support, and every book I want to buy costs %50 to $100. No doubt they are worth it, but such a purchase represents a considerable chunk of my disposable income. Daryl, I have your book, and yours is next on my list, Sam, as soon as I can find a horse who will justify my confidence in him.

criminalpsychologist said...

I'm a great Lewis Carrol fan, too, and I've read the book about him, you recommended so warmly, some time ago (great read).
You know, do you, that Carrol was a great puzzle, riddle and anagram creator? I have the "Annotaded Alice", which helps to find them all.Of course this theory about him being JtR is hilarious, but abuse of anagrams for crazy theories doesn't mean, that they haven't been used for transport of hidden messages since the invention of writing. One has to view them with caution, though and err rather on the conservative side, but don't stop looking for them.

Peter Farey said...

Dan, this is how I interpreted Sonnet 112 for Cynthia.

YOur loue and pittie doth th'impression fill,
Which vulgar scandall stampt vpon my brow,

The continuation from the ending of the previous Sonnet ("Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye, / Even that your pity is enough to cure me.") is obvious. The 'impression' is that left by the brand on his brow, the disgrace mentioned earlier. One is in fact reminded of Francis Bacon's essay Of Atheism, in which he wrote: "for that all that impugn a received religion, or superstition, are by the adverse part branded with the name of atheists."

For what care I who calles me well or ill,
So you ore-greene my bad,my good alow?

A series of contrasts starts at this point: well/ill, bad/good, shames/praises, right/wrong, critic/flatterer. There is also the contrast between accepting the good things about him, whilst glossing over the bad. I was tempted to take this as a reference to Greene's alleged attack on the poet - eg. Shakespeare or (even more so) Marlowe - but that would not satisfactorily account for the lack of criticism apparently complained of below.

You are my All the world,and I must striue,
To know my shames and praises from your tounge,

The double meaning of "you are everything to me" and "you must replace everyone else" is fairly obvious, but few editors wonder why he must "strive" to get feedback from his friend. Since we have just been told that his friend "allows" his good, it must be criticism (useful feedback) about his "shames" that the poet in fact wants but isn't getting from him.

None else to me,nor I to none aliue,
That my steel'd sence or changes right or wrong,

"Other than you, there is nobody who is alive to me (or to whom I am alive!) that is able to change my hardened opinions, regardless of whether they (either the person or the opinions) are right or wrong". The fact that it is 'change' he is talking about confirms that it is critical feedback he wants, rather than more praise. Since his friend is "all the world" to him, it is understandable why nobody else is "alive" as far as he is concerned. What requires further explanation, however, is just why he would not be alive to them. Marlovians clearly have a considerable advantage here!

(Incidentally, I did like the idea that 'sense or' could also bring in the idea of censorship.)

In so profound Abisme I throw all care
Of others voyces,that my Adders sence,
To cryttick and to flatterer stopped are:

The adder is said to be able to stop his ear (with his tail), so an adder's sense would be a sense of hearing that can be stopped. He switches his off when either criticism or flattery from anyone else is concerned.

Marke how with my neglect I do dispence.

"Observe how I excuse (dispense with) my neglect (of you)."

You are so strongly in my purpose bred,

"You are so strongly indoctrinated in my beliefs". In other words, he is so accepting of everything the poet believes (that he never criticizes him).

That all the world besides me thinkes y'are dead.

"That I not only think the rest of the world is dead (because I don't listen to them), but I think you are too (because, as you never give me any constructive feedback, I don't hear you either!)"


Peter Farey said...

ElviraCardigan said..."I'm wondering how you think the rebus got there (supposing it did of course)? Did some friend of Marlowe's pay a stone mason to put it there? Was it by prior arrangement with the Shakespeare family?"

It seems most likely to me that this was part of the same project which brought us the First Folio, and had the same people behind it. For this reason (among others) I would pick Ben Jonson as its author, and can't help wondering whether the alleged "merry meeting" which Jonson and Drayton had with Shakespeare had some connection with the discussion of such things. William could then tell his family not to worry about any sort of memorial for him, since his friends from London were going to sort it all out. That they took five or more years to do so might have been a bit irritating, and one can't help wondering what on earth his grave had written on it in the meantime!


Dan Sayers said...

Elvira - following up on a footnote on Peter's linked article on the Stratford Monument, I just found this article (on an Oxfordian site, though Oxford isn't mentioned), which explores the interesting possibility that Ben Jonson wrote the text.

ElviraCardigan said...

Peter (and Dan) -

Yes, I think the theory Jonson wrote the epitaph to coincide with the First Folio seems plausible (I read that article you linked to Dan, thanks :-)). The similarities of wording to other epitaphs J wrote seems to make it a definite possibility at least (what was it with Jonson and epitaphs by the way?).

So the hypothesis is Jonson is paying lip service to Shakespeare while leaving clues that Marlowe was the real author. Which for me raises obvious questions

1, Why?
Shakespeare and Marlowe were both presumably dead at this point, why is there need for more subterfuge?

2. Why isn't the coded message saying something simple and coherent like 'Marlowe was Shakespeare'?
Why go to all that trouble to conceal a message that even when decoded is so abstruse as to be almost meaningless?

And widening the discussion slightly...

3. how many people do we assume to have known about the coverup?
If the entire Privy Council, plus Queen Elizabeth, plus most major playwrights knew the whole story, then who were they covering it up from?

Again, this is not a counter-argument or anything that coherent. I'm just expressing questions that seem to naturally arise.

criminalpsychologist said...

We talked about a possible anagram in the character "Sir Oliver Mar-text" from "As You Like It".
It was not Maureen Dudd, but Maureen DUFF, who proposed this last year on Oct. 17th.
Sorry for the mistake.

criminalpsychologist said...

Concerning your third question: If I follow the book, I just finished, a lot of people must at least have guessed, that Marlowe was still writing (if he survived, that is), and that's not very surprising. I mean, if we, after all those years, can detect stylistic similarities between Marlowe's and Shakespeare's work, literary people at the time must have seen it right away, especially, if a poet Shakespeare hasn't been around before.And that might explain, why a message on the monument isn't as clear as "Hey, Marlowe wrote the stuff". Probably quite a few people knew that anyway, but decorum had to be kept. Ben Jonson was a bit of a prankster. Maybe it was his idea of having some fun on Shakespeare's expense. Maybe, this phrase "read if you can..." was even a little dig, that Mr. Shakspere and his family could't do just that.....
Oh, well, all those maybes. The whole thing reminds me of the Cheshire Cat: We have the grin (Shakespeare's works) but not the cat (the poet); and we try to find the cat behind the grin. Whenever we think, we spotted the cat, it vashishes and we are left with this even after 400 years tantalizing and mocking grin.

Dan Sayers said...

Elvira - question 1: assuming you are willing to accept that Marlowe didn't die in 1593, then it's not at all clear that he would have been dead by the time of the First Folio's printing. In fact, Jonson's and Digges' dedicatory poems, as well as the monument inscription, can all be read as suggesting the author was still alive ...

Dan Sayers said...

OK maybe suggesting is too strong. But it is a little curious how so many of the Folio's introductory dedications play on the theme of "he is still alive ... through these words".

Peter Farey said...

ElviraCardigan asked..."Shakespeare and Marlowe were both presumably dead at this point, why is there need for more subterfuge?"

As Dan has pointed out, the evidence of the Folio and the Monument would seem to suggest that whilst Shakespeare was dead, Marlowe was still alive. Similarly, I would argue from these documents that a decision had been taken to continue the subterfuge. Unfortunately there is no evidence I am aware of which suggests why they would have decided to do this.

You also ask..."Why go to all that trouble to conceal a message that even when decoded is so abstruse as to be almost meaningless?"

What I have done (I think) is to show that the poem on the monument can also be read as:

Stay Passenger, why goest thou by so fast?
Make out, if thou canst, whom envious Death hath placed
with, in this monument, Shakspeare - with whom
living Nature died. Christofer Marley:
he is returned moreover. That HE hath writ
leaves Art alive, without a page to serve (up) his wit.

I do not accept that this is "so abstruse as to be almost meaningless". I regard it as a very clever way of appearing to say one thing whilst in fact saying something entirely different.

If you have read the essay at the link I provided you will also have seen what I present as an argument for claiming it to be almost impossible for the ability to interpret it in such a way to have happened accidentally. This is all that I claim. Had there been any evidence to suggest just why whoever it was decided to do conceal such a message in such a way, I assure you that I would have said so!

..."If the entire Privy Council, plus Queen Elizabeth, plus most major playwrights knew the whole story, then who were they covering it up from?"

If we assume that it was indeed only those people who knew the whole story, then logic would suggest that they were covering it up from everybody else! The fact that there appears to have been a clue to deciphering it suggests that only those who knew the whole story would be expected to be able to do so.


Rado Klose said...

Hi Peter
Apologies for wandering even further off topic. Since Johnsons' preface has come up in discussionI the following by James Mabbe might be might be thought sggestive
WEE wondred (Shake-speare) that thou went'st so soone
From the Worlds-Stage, to the Graves-Tyring-roome.
Wee thought thee dead, but this thy printed worth,
Tels thy Spectators, that thou went'st but forth
To enter with applause. An Actors Art,
Can dye, and live, to acte a second part.
That's but an Exit of Mortalitie;
This, a Re-entrance to a Plaudite.

Since Shakespeare was 50 something when he died and retired for some time before that he hardly qualifies as untimely snatched away does he?

Dan Sayers said...

Elvira - also on your question 1, regarding continuing the subterfuge, how on earth would the subterfuge be ended without at the very least incriminating Poley, Skeres, Frizer and Danby? I think any hope that Marlowe would be admitted to be alive would be rather wishful thinking.

criminalpsychologist said...

My last post, concerning the inscription riddle: With your last post, you won me over. My bone, I had to pick so far, when I said, it't too complicated, was, that it's almost impossible to solve the riddle without the authorship question and Marlowe as candidate in mind. But I absolutely agree with you, that the riddle was aimed at people, who knew or suspected the truth; and there must have been quite a few. People, who were familiar with the writer and poet scene would not accept a new poet identity with a familiar style out of nowhere. But even after all this time one couldn't talk openly about it, because the people involved, who were still alive, had to be protected; and even a dead Queen's face had to be faced, if she knew about the cover up

One last question, concerning the poem on the actual tomb. It's always said, Mr Shakspere created it himself: Is there any proof? And did they work the poem into the riddle, because it was there already or was it a grand concept with the poem already in mind?

ElviraCardigan said...

Hey guys - ooh, this discussion is getting very interesting! So many questions I want to follow up on, but I'm wondering if here is the right place?

Is there a forum of any kind where these things are discussed, and where we could all adjourn for fear of swamping this wonderful blog that isn't designed for the purpose?

If not, should we start one somewhere?

Anonymous said...

Good idea, Elvira. Here's the forum where we discuss things between ourselves in relative privacy. You, criminalpsychologist and other folk friendly to and interested in discussing various points of Marlovian theory are very welcome to join:

criminalpsychologist said...

I had the same thoughts. I've been following this blog for quite some time, but since the (always interesting) articles normally are very specific, I didn't want to butt in, but I'd like a place to have open quality discussions, without spoiling a thread. I came out commenting, because this one branched out a bit.Thought pooling and the possibility to ask questions would be nice.

Dan Sayers said...

I'm a web developer, and could host and/or create a forum for this purpose - if that would be helpful, and there is enough of a demand. I suspect this place works so well due to a combination of excellent articles from regular contributors, and active moderation. And of course it's under the aegis of the International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society. So yes, if some way could be arranged for such a thing within the existing ethos here I'd be happy to help, if that's of use.

Having said that, as long as people don't mind waiting for relevant topics, and scrolling through long pages, I think this site is pretty damn good as it is.

Peter Farey said...

criminalpsychologist said..."it's almost impossible to solve the riddle without the authorship question and Marlowe as candidate in mind."

That may indeed be right as far as the whole thing is concerned, but I don't think it would have been "fair" for it to be impossible to find the name itself without already knowing which one you were looking for. I claim that the name can be found without already knowing it's Marlowe's, since each part of the solution leads logically to the next. I myself was not looking for that name when I stumbled across it, although of course nobody believes me!

However, it is certainly almost impossible to find that name unless you know exactly what is also written on the grave, that the grave is right in front of the monument, how such rebuses work, that the name Christopher Marlowe could have been (and indeed sometimes was) spelled "Christofer Marley" and that the word "ley" could be a sort of cost. Whilst very few people today would know any of these things, I contend that any reasonably knowledgable Jacobean in situ would have done, and because of my particular interest in Marlowe (and cryptic crosswords!) I did too. All I didn't know was the 'ley' meaning (which contemporaries would) but I did have easy access to the Oxford English Dictionary, which has details of archaic and obsolete words like that.

What I will say, of course, is that people at the time are most unlikely to have thought of looking for a second meaning unless they were actually told that it was a puzzle, and they may still have needed to have pointed out to them the help which the 'capital letter size' key would provide. And a knowledge of the authorship question would be essential to understand, for example, just what Marlowe's being somehow "in" the monument with Shakespeare could possibly mean.

criminalpsychologist also said..."concerning the poem on the actual tomb. It's always said, Mr Shakspere created it himself: Is there any proof? And did they work the poem into the riddle, because it was there already or was it a grand concept with the poem already in mind?"

No, there is no proof that he wrote it himself. I guess it's just the reference in it to "my bones" that gives people this idea. My assumption (based on the fact that's it's really so weird otherwise) would be that it was designed to be a part of the the grand concept. But the monument probably didn't arrive until 1621/2, and it's hard to imagine his grave saying nothing but that for the five or six years after he was buried there! This is the timetable, according to my notes:

1616, 23 April, William Shakespeare dies.

1616, 25 April, Shakespeare buried, probably in the chancel, although - as it doesn't say where - the next item may mean it was elsewhere originally. It seems most unlikely that from 1616 until 1621 there was no indication on the grave of who was buried there.)

1618? "the chancel fell into decay and was boarded up; two years after Shakespeare's burial there, it was declared 'ruinous'" - Samuel Schoenbaum, A Compact Documentary Life (Oxford University Press, New York, 1977) p.10.

1621/2 Refurbishment of chancel. " was not until his monument was erected, or was about to be erected, that they had the place made less unworthy of its illustrious dead ... In 1621-2 the walls were 'mended' and 'painted' and the windows 'glazed', and the building was presentable, for the first time since the Poet's interment, when his old friends and fellow-actors of the King's Company paid their one and only visit to Stratford, presumably to see his monument, in the Summer of 1622." - Edgar I. Fripp, Shakespeare's Stratford (Oxford University Press, London, 1928) p.73.


criminalpsychologist said...

Thanks for the web adress, I will check it out.

You are right, that quality maintenance makes this place great.In the meantime, I need a place to discuss the Reggae Theory with you: (Desmond) Dekker,(Johnny) Nash, (Bob) Marley, (Robbie) Skakespeare, mmhm... While I'm still trying to find the Elizabethan playwriters Tosh an d Cliff, I think I found another text, Marlowe wrote under a pen name:

Well, the officers are trying to keep me down
Trying to drive me underground
And they think that they have got the battle won
I say forgive them Lord, they know not what the've done

And I keep on fighting for the things I want
Thought I know that when you're dead you can't
But I'd rather be a free man in my grave
Than living as a puppet and a slave

as performed in a London theater:

Turn on the volume and enjoy!:)))

Isabel Gortazar said...

Good day to all:

Perhaps "criminalpsychologist" would care to read the article in which I presented Fripp’s information about the dates of erection of the Monument.


Dan Sayers said...

Anonymous - thanks, I hadn't seen your link when I made my suggestion.

criminalpsychologist - haha, that's great! You've got me trying to think of similar lyrics now. In the meantime there's an instrumental called 'Elizabethan Reggae' ...

Peter - one minor point on the monument inscription: when I read through your solution it makes more sense to me that the "in this monument" bit goes with the "read if though canst" - i.e. read if though canst, in this monument, whom envious death etc. I accept the grammar is (more) convoluted for such an interpretation, but it makes more sense to me than the idea of Marlowe and Shakespeare bein somehow "in" the monument. What do you think?

criminalpsychologist said...

Thank you very much for your detailed answer. The time line concerning tomb and monument is interesting.
As to you finding a possible solution for the riddle, I absolutely believe you that you went about it with an open mind; but once you get to the point, where you conclude, that Jesus is the name of Christ, it helps a lot to have Christofer Marlowe and the authorship question in mind, in order to work out the anagram and the rest of the riddle. It's the subconcious way of forming associations. But then again, if the riddle were too easy, they could as well write openly, who wrote Shakespeare's stuff. So I still think, if there's a riddle, it was not meant to be solved by every one. Is there any chance by the way, that Marlowe himself had a hand in the creation of the inscription?

And last,everybody don't mind my post about the "Reggae Theory" or the "Jamaican Connection". It's a cold and rainy summer here in Germany, and a little sunshine in one's mind helps a lot. If I have worked out the full theory, I'll let you know:)))

criminalpsychologist said...

Thanks for suggesting your article.

ElviraCardigan said...

Well, I went searching for a forum and just couldn't find one, so I went to Proboards and botched something up...

Just sign up and post!!

It's ever so basic right now, but I thought I'd just see if anyone thinks it's useful before doing any more. I've made it a sort of general 'doubt about Shakespeare' forum, though I'm not gonna pretend I think anyone but Marlowe has even a small chance in the race;-)

If it takes off maybe someone talented could do a little banner and background for it? And someone more qualified than me could maybe admin the forums?

What do you guys think?

Peter Farey said...

Good luck with the new group! The main question you will need to address very quickly, however, is to what extent you want to exclude people who refuse to accept that the Marlovian case has any merit whatsoever. In other words, will out-and-out Stratfordians and Oxfordians be welcome, or would you prefer your group to be peopled only by those who are at least prepared to accept the possibility that Marlovians could be right?

If you are happy to allow these others in, then there are already a couple of places where general authorship discussion can take place. There is the unmoderated usenet group humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare, open to anyone and going since 1995, and there's the moderated 'Forest of Arden' group which was set up a few years ago by some of those hlas members who thought that rather more control over the content was needed.

On the other hand, if you would like the discussion to be restricted to those who are positively disposed to the Marlovian theory, then there is the International Marlowe-Shakespeare Society's own discussion group. In fact there is relatively little activity there at the moment, while the discussions we have been having over here are of just the type that the group was set up to encourage! The problem with it is that it's not all that easy to find, and that it gives the impression (for which I must shoulder much of the blame) that's it's open only to those who "believe" Marlowe wrote Shakespeare, which really isn't so. Furthermore (and unlike other candidates' groups), the only way you can find out what the group is like and who the other members are is by joining it. This, however, together with the whole question of its accessibility, is something which we need to reconsider. You can join at


Anonymous said...

Elvira we already have one, as I posted above. There are plenty of members there already, happy to discuss whatever Marlowe-Shakespeare-related issues tuat take your fancy! Including several, like you, who would not label themselves "Marlovian" but are prepared to consider it as a viable theory and are investigating the ins and outs of it.

It's here: Do sign up. We'd love to have you on board.

criminalpsychologist said...

For now, I'm happy to stay at this site, since open discussions are possible, and, through moderation, quality is guarantied. Only problem, as Peter has pointed out,is, that it's hard to find for people, who are not willing to scroll through all the comments. They will never find out about all this interesting stuff about the monument. So, in the future, if there is demand and someone is willing to manage it, an open discussion thread might be nice.

What I admire,is, that the experienced regulars (Peter and Isabel...) apparently read the comments and respond to our questions. Thank you! That's a reason for me to stay here.

criminalpsychologist said...

I've read your very interesting post about the history of the Stratford monument now. Some thoughts and a question:
If we choose to believe, there is a riddle hidden in the monument, then the inscription on the tombstone is clearly crucial for solving it.Since it is somewhat unlikely however, that the execution was suspended for 6 years, it makes a lot more sense to think, that everything, including the gravestone plus curse, was renovated and put into place at the same time. On the other hand, if everything was put up at the same time, why make the riddle more complicated by implicating the gravestone at all and trying to protect it with curses, which might or might not work? I have a hunch, that Marlowe did not believe in such things.
As to the curse on the real Tamburlaine's (or Timor's) grave: Isn't that almost certainly a coincidence? I could not find anything about a curse in the play.
Did I overlook something? (Thanks, Peter, for making Marlowe's works available in modernized writing on your homepage; it' very helpful for me, since English is not my native language.) Or was it common knowledge (at least for learned persons) in Elizabethan and Jacobean England, that there was a curse on Timur's grave? If wikipedia is to be trusted, the inscription was: "When I rise from the dead, the world will tremble".That's not a curse or a warning to leave his grave undisturbed, but a prediction. The real curse was apparently found after the opening and exhumation inside the grave on Timur's coffin. (For the record, I'm don't believe in curses and fortune telling, and the world trembled mightily before they opened the grave, since it was in the midle of WW 2, but I guess from your article, Isabel, you don't eather)It seems to be farfetched to assume, that this was known at the time those inscriptions on tomb and Stratford monument were made.

criminalpsychologist said...

I will check out the existing forum tonight.
Thank you!

Peter Farey said...

"Elvira", I have tried to post something to your new group, but despite my having successfully registered I find it quite impossible to find out how to post anything new. Blame my senescence. Meanwhile (and in the absence of any other contact for you) I'll continue to misuse this blog quite outrageously.

Every so often I take a quick peek at the "Marlovian Theory" entry on Wikipedia to make sure that none of our opponents has modified our article in an unacceptable way. Having been the original author of the version upon which the current one is primarily based I have an abiding interest in ensuring that what is said still represents the best argument we can make in the face of the somewhat biased Wikipedia policies about what is and is not "acceptable".

For example, is anyone aware of the massive battle which recently went on between Oxfordians and the Stratfordian editors of the "Shakespeare Authorship Question" and which (after arbitration, and of course) the Oxfordians lost?

Anyway, after four years of careful negotiation about it, and fully aware of the very real danger that the whole thing might be deleted anyway, I thought that in June this year we had perhaps managed to get to a general statement which accommodated most of the various Marlovians' viewpoints, and which seemed to be more or less acceptable to the real powers behind Wikipedia NPOV-wise.

I thanked the Wikipedian gods that we seemed to have reached a state where sleeping dogs were being allowed to lie and that if we kept our heads down our entry might remain relatively unmolested.

So let's see. On 29 July you told us that "I've only been reading about all this for about a week", but only five days later you nevertheless started to re-edit a page which it had taken me four years to achieve. Did you, before joining in, look at any of the discussions which have gone on about this entry in the past? Comparing how it is today with how it was back in June, what do you think you actually achieved?

Look, I think that your ideas are excellent, your questions well worth asking, and your immediately getting to the real weaknesses in the Marlovian case second to none. But just take it easy, OK?


Peter Farey said...

Sorry, Dan, I've just noticed that I missed your comment... "when I read through your solution it makes more sense to me that the "in this monument" bit goes with the "read if though canst" - i.e. read if though canst, in this monument, whom envious death etc."

Thanks for the suggestion, but I can't say that I see it that way. The two bits seem too far away from each other for that to make sense to me.

What I said in my latest version of the essay (which still isn't the one you link to on your group, Elvira) is:

"One may well argue about what this actually means, but it is not too hard to see a meaning fully in line with Marlovian beliefs. Art (Christopher Marlowe) is still alive, but is commemorated in the monument too, whilst Nature (William Shakespeare)—formerly the "living" face of the author—is now dead. So Marlowe is now without anyone to dish up his "wit" for him."

I think I would still prefer his being commemorated therein as the intended meaning. Sorry!


Isabel Gortazar said...

Hi criminalpsychologist:

You wrote:" if everything was put up at the same time, why make the riddle more complicated by implicating the gravestone etc?."

The combination prompts us to examine both and come to the weird conclusion that either WS was in a nameless gravestone for six years, or else the slab was changed.

The gravestone gives us not only the name of Jesus/Christ, but also the reference to Marlowe in the lines paraphrasing Hero and Leander. But, I agree that this might not have been Marlowe's idea at all.

I personally find the Epitaph in Timon of Athens intriguing. Maybe that’s where the Monument “plotters” got the idea.

Alcibiades:[Reads the epitaph]
'Here lies a wretched corse, of wretched soul bereft:
Seek not my name: a plague consume you wicked
caitiffs left!
Here lie I, Timon; who, alive, all living men did hate:
Pass by and curse thy fill, but pass
and stay not here thy gait.'

The coincidences are pretty obvious, but they might mean nothing.

As for the curse in Tamerlane’s Tomb, I agree it could be another coincidence, even though Timon also mentions a curse. Although I have read a number of sources for Tamburlaine, (mostly XV and XVI Centuries’ texts), I have never been able to find the wording of the Tomb’s curse, which is obviously not the sentence you mention, because, as you say, that is not a curse. Eastern Monarchs used to put a curse on their Tombs (vg, Tutankhamen) to avoid pillage, because they were buried with "treasures".

If this particular curse means anything, one might wonder whether there are any “treasures”
in Shakespeare’s Tomb, and the curse is both a warning and an invitation, playing on irrational fears against curiosity. Jonson calls it MONIMENT, from “monitio” vg: warning. We'll probably never know.

Isabel Gortazar said...

Hi again criminalpsychologist:

You were asking about Bastian Conrad the other day; sorry its has taken me so long to reply.

Bastian is an old friend and colleague; we have privately discussed some ideas, and he has helped me find some data in Germany. We met in Berlin last year and discussed some of the points in which we disagree.

As often happens in this game, we ended up agreeing to disagree in many of those points, so I have no doubt that there will be several things in his book with which I would not concur. That said, I have the greatest respect for his intellectual modesty, and his dedication to this difficult task.

Unfortunately, I don't speak German, so I cannot know what conclusions he has finally published, although he kindly sent me a copy of his book.

But, in any case, I am personally delighted to see that Continental scholars are taking an interest in Marlowe. This will slowly make his name better known, and open the gates for much needed research in Continental Archives. After all, if Marlowe survived Deptford, he may have spent more years in the Continent than the short thirty years he spent in England.

We all make mistakes; none of us has all the answers, but if we keep on pulling at the cart together we might find a smoking gun somewhere, sometime.

criminalpsychologist said...

Hi Isabel,
Concerning the curious coincidence of Tamerlan's cursed grave: You say, that the general function of cursed graves is the protection of valuables inside the tombs. Maybe, whoever was responsible for putting everything into place in Stratford, wanted to protect more than the completeness of the riddle. I still think, if they had free reign indeed during the renovation of the chancel and could possibly replace a preexisting slab of stone, it would have been easier to put the whole riddle onto the monument only, and no curse would have been neccessary. Why risk the loss of an important clue? After all, you write in one of your posts, that the slab possibly WAS replaced in the 18th century, though maybe with the same inscription.
But the little poem clearly states, that you should leave alone the stone as well as the dust and the bones.To me it means, that one is not encouraged at all to open the tomb and exhume or relocate anything in it.
Oh well, so many questions!
By the way, has anything been done about the plan to open up Sir Fulke Greville's monument to find out,if valuable Shakespeare manuscripts have been hidden there?

Thank you for mentioning Bastian Conrad's book. Everybody, who can read German and has an interest in the authorship question, should read it. There is some great and very moving stuff in it. I plan to give it a good review at amazon. The main bone I have to pick, is, that he has Marlowe live on and on, and has him writing under dozen's of different pen names, some likelier than others, some not likely at all(according to Conrad, Marlowe has written all quality English literature possible in one long life span :))),until he dies back in England knighted as Sir Toby Mathhew at a very old age. That's, what I would have wished for Kit Marlowe, but I can't really believe in such a fairy tale ending.


Isabel Gortazar said...

Hi Sabine; good to know your name.
I don’t think I can add anything to what I have already said on the matter of the curse. It may be relevant or it may be just a coincidence. Whatever was done to the grave in the eighteenth century, one must assume that the slab, if replaced, was repeated as they had found it. I would also suggest that the coffin was not opened and that, had it been buried vertically, like Jonson’s, we would have been told.

I cannot think how they could have included the paraphrasing lines in the Epitaph. It is one thing to suggest that there may be a riddle to be “read if thou canst”, it is another to lead the “readers” in the right direction. By leading us to Hero and Leander they made it easier to know what we may be looking for. There have been other interpretations of the Epitaph targeting other candidates, so, though Peter did a splendid job finding the name “Christofer Marley”, I personally feel more confident that he is right because of the reference to Marlowe’s most famous poem.

As for Conrad’s book, you’ve got it in one. The problems you mention are precisely the ones we discussed over the last few years and about which we disagreed, including the identity of Toby Mathews. But I am glad to hear you’ll be writing a positive review, as there are bound to be interesting ideas in the book, as well as probably mistaken ones. None of the great Marlovian researchers, including Calvin Hoffman and Dolly Wright got everything right, and neither will any of us individually.

For the rest of my story you might wish to read the following:

Cynthia Morgan said...


You say, "But what interests me is the small handful of evidence that *does* seem to suggest Jonson and others are actually identifying Shakespeare of Stratford as the author. Am I getting this wrong? This is what they are doing, isn't it?
. . . The question I'm hung up on is - are these anomalies strong enough to justify dismissing Jonson et al identifying Shakespeare as 'Shakespeare'?

I find it strange that after speaking so much about Daryl's book you did not bring up his marvelous chapter that relates directly to your questions about Jonson. In his chapter, “Jonson, Shakespeare, and Marlowe” he explores Jonson's Every Man out of His Humour and Shakespeare's As You Like It, finding contradictions to the sentiments Jonson expressed in the First Folio (if aimed at the Stratford Shakespeare) and allusions that point to Marlowe as the true author of the works.

I've done a bit of a synopsis of this wonderful chapter over at The Marlowe Studies (Surprise Daryl! Should you find anything you'd like changed please let me know.)

Should any of you not have his book, here are the links to the synopsis of this chapter on the MS editorial pages:

Anonymous said...

Peter - many thanks for your analysis of Sonnet 112, which certainly clears up a few points for me. The business about the adder stopping his ear is interesting, and I agree, makes sense of lines 9-11. I must confess, I struggle to see that the poet is saying, as you state, that he thinks the addressee "is dead" because he doesn't give enough constructive feedback - this reading depends heavily on the reading of "I must strive", and a somewhat difficult reading of the last line.

However, having now read the extensive discussions on the Marlowe-Shakespeare Google Group regarding this poem, and lacking a better analysis, I will refrain from plunging deeper into this "profound abysm"!

I'd love to know, if you're reading the comments down here - is there any chance of a Farey book on Marlovian matters at some point? It would be great to have some of your erudition applied to the subject in print form. (I'm aware from the other thread that you are responsible for much of Shakespeare: New Evidence which I will be looking at ASAP).

Peter Farey said...

Dan asked..."is there any chance of a Farey book on Marlovian matters at some point? It would be great to have some of your erudition applied to the subject in print form."

It's very nice of you to suggest that such a thing might be worth producing, Dan, and it is of course something which I have given some thought to, but I'm really not sure that have the energy left to do anything about it!

In any case, what I love about the world wide web as a way of promulgating one's ideas is that one can keep it up to date according to one's latest thoughts and research on the subject. Everything becomes "work in progress".

You saw recently how Daryl admitted that, if he were writing his book again, he would do it a bit differently. Similarly, much of the stuff that I wrote which appears in Wraight's book is complete rubbish. How nice to be able simply to log on at any time, and correct what one has said without all the expense of a whole new edition and print run! That's pretty much what I did with the Le Doux information in Chapters 2 and 3 of my "A Deception in Deptford" on my website.

Naturally, I would quite like to think that my stuff, warts and all, would continue to be available to anyone seriously interested in the subject. Fortunately, what used to be the "Deja-news" archive, currently still maintained and provided by Google, has preserved most of my off-the-cuff (but usually well thought out!) posts to the "humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare" newsgroup and the "Forest of Arden" group in the electronic aspic. I trust that Carlo and the Marlowe Society won't start deleting too many of my writings for a while, and one committed Marlovian has even asked if they may make sure that my website continues in one form or other.

Which would be nice!