Full Name: Christopher Marlowe
Born: February 26, 1564,
Birthplace: Canterbury, England
Died: May 30, 1593, Deptford, England
Occupation: Playwright, poet
Literary movement: English Renaissance
Christopher Marlowe was an English dramatist, poet, translator and the greatest of Shakespeare‘s predecessors. He may be regarded as the true founder of English drama and Marlowe was the leading Elizabethan tragedian of his day. His great literary work is Doctor Faustus ensured his lasting legacy. He lived only 29 years and his 6 years literary career was enough to immortalize him.
Christopher Marlowe Early Life:
He was born on 26 February 1564, two months before Shakespeare, in the town of Canterbury. His father John Marlowe was a poor shoemaker and his mother Catherine was a housewife. He studied at the town Grammar School and then at the University of Cambridge. At the age of nineteen, he was graduated. Later he went to London where he became an actor. Literary Career: At the age of twenty-three, he produced his first play Tamburlaine, the first English play in blank verse which brought him instant recognition. Thereafter, although he led a wretched life, he remained loyal to a high literary purpose. In five years while Shakespeare was serving an apprenticeship, Marlowe produced all his great work. Then he was stabbed in a drunken fight and died wretchedly as he had lived. He was only twenty-nine years when he died. The epilogue of Faustus could very well be inscribed on his tombstone:
Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight,
And burned is Apollo’s laurel bough
That sometime grew within this learned man.
Arrest and Death:
In October 1588, Marlowe gave bail for his appearance for some unknown offense. Serious charges were brought against him in 1593. As a result of a certain confession made by Thomas Kyd under the influence of torture, the Privy Council started an investigation of the charges of atheism and blasphemy against Marlowe.
Various accounts of Marlowe’s death have been given by various writers. However, according to the most reliable version, based on the evidence and documents in the public record office, Marlowe was killed by a friend of his, one Ingram Frizer, at an inn on May 30, 1593. Frizer and Marlowe, together with two friends named Robert Poley and Nicholas Skeres, had gone to the inn to drink and dine. A quarrel arouses about paying the bill. Marlowe in a sudden fit of temper attracted Frizer from behind. In the ensuing struggle, Frizer stabbed Marlowe who died instantly eventually Marlowe’s career was abruptly cut short. Frizer subsequently pardoned on the ground that he had killed Marlowe in self-defense.
Plays: Dido, Queen of Carthage (1586), Tamburlaine, part 1 (1587), Tamburlaine, part 2 (1587–1588), The Jew of Malta (1589), Doctor Faustus (1589 or 1593), Edward II (1592), The Massacre at Paris (1593)
Sexuality: Marlowe is sometimes described in our day as a homosexual like William Shakespeare. Some critics argue that the facts are inconclusive and that the reports of Marlowe’s homosexuality may just be exaggerated rumors shaped after his death.
Christopher Marlowe Remarkable Facts:
- He was homosexual or bisexual.
- At the age of 29, he died
- Within a short literary career, he became famous, only in six years.
- His literary work was also short.
- He was killed by a friend
- His great play Doctor Faustus.