Christopher Marlowe Biography

Christopher Marlowe Biography

Christopher Marlowe will, historically, always be a runner-up to Shakespeare. Although Marlowe was one of the earliest writers to make use of blank verse, the style is most often associated with Shakespeare. Adding insult to injury, Marlowe’s early plays have been overshadowed by some of Shakespeare’s works that “borrowed” certain character ideas (see, for example, the similarities between Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta and Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice). And finally, Marlowe’s body of work is less expansive than the Bard’s—but perhaps only because Shakespeare managed to live a full three decades longer than Marlowe did. Despite these inevitable comparisons, Marlowe’s plays have stood the test of time and should be regarded as classics in their own right.

Facts and Trivia

  • Marlowe was stabbed to death at the age of twenty-nine under circumstances that remain a mystery to this day. Some believe his death was faked and that he continued to write plays under Shakespeare’s name.
  • Like many of Shakespeare’s plays, Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus has been scrutinized for its authorship. Two different versions of the work were published over a decade apart, and many believe that another author (or authors) added many of the comic scenes that make up the middle of the play.
  • One of the many, many rumors surrounding Marlowe’s life is that he was a spy in the service of Queen Elizabeth I. In fact, some scholars believe that Marlowe’s death—usually thought to be the result of a bar fight—was an assassination.
  • Another area of speculation in Marlowe’s life is his sexuality. The question of whether or not he was gay is most often tied to same-sex love themes in his poetry and plays. The clearest example of this is in Edward II, which follows a monarch who rejects his queen in favor of a male lover.
  • Despite the endless comparisons, the overlap between Marlowe’s and Shakespeare’s careers is relatively brief. Shakespeare arrived in London only a few short years before Marlowe’s murder.
Additional Content
  • Biography (History of the World: The Renaissance)
  • Biography (Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)
  • Biography (British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)
  • Biography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)
  • Biography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)
  • Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)
  • Biography
  • Biography
  • Biography
  • Biography
  • Biography

(The entire section is 7830 words.)