Christopher Marlowe: life and background

  • David A. Male
Part of the Macmillan Master Guides book series


Christopher Marlowe was born in 1564, the same year as William Shakespeare, but he was killed in 1593, aged 29, as a result of a brawl in a tavern at Deptford, just outside London. In the mêlée he was stabbed in the eye and the wound proved fatal. This sordid incident, said to have arisen as a result of a quarrel about the settlement of the bill, brought to a premature end the life of a playwright whose brilliance dazzled and excited his Elizabethan audiences. The killing, however, was surrounded by some mystery. We know that two weeks before the Deptford incident a warrant had been issued for Marlowe’s arrest and more recent investigations carried out by Leslie Hotson (The Death of Christopher Marlowe, 1925) reveal that about a month later Marlowe’s assassin, Ingram Frizer, received a Queen’s pardon, asserting that the killing had been in self defence. There was no post-mortem or trial. It has been suggested that the murder of Marlowe was a pre-arranged political assassination. For some reason the authorities wanted Marlowe silenced.


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© David A. Male 1985

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  • David A. Male

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