|Christopher Marlowe, looking a bit rakish.|
Despite the great "Marlowe Myth," there is actually only a little historical evidence to back it up.
Let's take these allegations one at a time:
Marlowe the Spy
|Sir Francis Walsingham.|
Perhaps the original "M."
Sounds like Marlowe could have been the original 007 (Wait, would that make Walsingham "M"? Or in this case "W"?).
Marlowe the Homosexual
Marlowe was rumored to be a homosexual, however much like Shakespeare, there is little proof. According to one rumor, Marlowe said, "All they that love not Tobacco and Boys are fools."Some have also said he alluded to homosexuality in many of his plays.
However, it is important to remember that what is often today termed "homosexual" or "bisexual" in Elizabethan England was more likely to be recognized as a sexual act, rather than an exclusive sexual orientation and identity.
Marlowe the Heretic
|Typical fate of heretics.|
A warrant for his arrest for heresy was issued shortly before his death.
Marlowe the Fighter
|Scene from The Reckoning of Kit & Little Boots|
The official coroners report read that Marlowe had spent the day of his death in a house in Deptford, owned by the widow Eleanor Bull, with three men: Ingram Frizer, Nicholas Skeres and Robert Poley. All three had been employed by one or other of the Walsinghams. (I like to think of them all as "00" agents).
These witnesses testified that Frizer and Marlowe had argued over the bill (now famously known as the 'Reckoning') exchanging "divers malicious words." Marlowe snatched Frizer's dagger and wounded him on the head. In the ensuing struggle, Marlowe was stabbed above the right eye, killing him instantly. The jury concluded that Frizer acted in self-defence, and within a month he was pardoned.
Prize fighter? Maybe not. But certainly rakish.
|Marlowe and Shakespeare|
Another theory is that Marlowe was not killed that evening in 1593, but went on to write under the name "William Shakespeare." The theory believes his patron, Sir Thomas Walsingham, would get the plays from Marlowe in England, copy them into different handwriting, and then continue to be the same man he was, only secluded. It is known as "The Marlovian Theory," but is obviously not widely accepted.
Whether these all of these rumors are true or not, it can certainly be seen that Marlowe was a respected writer of his time. He greatly influenced Shakespeare, and in return all of Western literature.
Now it is up to you. Will you listen to the rumors and conclude that Marlowe was perhaps the most roguish rake of them all, or do you see him as an unjustly slain play write, who influenced Shakespeare and, if he had lived, could have given the famous bard a run for his money?