His date of birth is not known, but he was baptised on 26 February , and is likely to have been born a few days before. Thus, he was just two months older than his contemporary William Shakespeare , who was baptised on 26 April in Stratford-upon-Avon. Marlowe attended The King's School in Canterbury where a house is now named after him and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge , where he studied on a scholarship and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in However, his degree was awarded on schedule when the Privy Council intervened on his behalf, commending him for his "faithful dealing" and "good service" to the Queen.
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Of the dramas attributed to Marlowe, Dido, Queen of Carthage is believed to have been his first. It was performed by the Children of the Chapel , a company of boy actors, between and The play was first published in ; the title page attributes the play to Marlowe and Thomas Nashe.
Marlowe's first play performed on the regular stage in London, in , was Tamburlaine the Great, about the conqueror Timur Tamerlane , who rises from shepherd to warlord. It is among the first English plays in blank verse,  and, with Thomas Kyd 's The Spanish Tragedy , generally is considered the beginning of the mature phase of the Elizabethan theatre.
The two parts of Tamburlaine were published in ; all Marlowe's other works were published posthumously. The sequence of the writing of his other four plays is unknown; all deal with controversial themes.
The Jew of Malta first published as The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Jew of Malta , about the Jew Barabas' barbarous revenge against the city authorities, has a prologue delivered by a character representing Machiavelli. It was probably written in or , and was first performed in It was a success, and remained popular for the next fifty years. The play was entered in the Stationers' Register on 17 May , but the earliest surviving printed edition is from Edward the Second is an English history play about the deposition of King Edward II by his barons and the Queen, who resent the undue influence the king's favourites have in court and state affairs.
The play was entered into the Stationers' Register on 6 July , five weeks after Marlowe's death. The full title of the earliest extant edition, of , is The troublesome reigne and lamentable death of Edward the second, King of England, with the tragicall fall of proud Mortimer.
The Massacre at Paris is a short and luridly written work, the only surviving text of which was probably a reconstruction from memory of the original performance text,  portraying the events of the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre in , which English Protestants invoked as the blackest example of Catholic treachery.
It features the silent "English Agent", whom subsequent tradition has identified with Marlowe himself and his connections to the secret service. With the Death of the Duke of Guise. Doctor Faustus or The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus ,  based on the German Faustbuch , was the first dramatised version of the Faust legend of a scholar's dealing with the devil.
While versions of "The Devil's Pact" can be traced back to the 4th century, Marlowe deviates significantly by having his hero unable to "burn his books" or repent to a merciful God in order to have his contract annulled at the end of the play. Marlowe's protagonist is instead carried off by demons, and in the quarto his mangled corpse is found by several scholars. Doctor Faustus is a textual problem for scholars as two versions of the play exist: Both were published after Marlowe's death.
Scholars have disagreed which text is more representative of Marlowe's original, and some editions are based on a combination of the two.
The latest scholarly consensus as of the late 20th century holds the A text is more representative because it contains irregular character names and idiosyncratic spelling, which are believed to reflect a text based on the author's handwritten manuscript, or " foul papers. Marlowe's plays were enormously successful, thanks in part, no doubt, to the imposing stage presence of Edward Alleyn. Alleyn was unusually tall for the time, and the haughty roles of Tamburlaine, Faustus, and Barabas were probably written especially for him.
Marlowe's plays were the foundation of the repertoire of Alleyn's company, the Admiral's Men , throughout the s. Marlowe also wrote the poem Hero and Leander published in , and with a continuation by George Chapman the same year , the popular lyric The Passionate Shepherd to His Love , and translations of Ovid 's Amores and the first book of Lucan 's Pharsalia. In , his translation of Ovid was banned and copies publicly burned as part of Archbishop Whitgift 's crackdown on offensive material.
Marlowe has been credited in the New Oxford Shakespeare series as co-author of the three Henry VI plays, though some scholars doubt any actual collaboration. What evidence there is can be found in legal records and other official documents. This has not stopped writers of both fiction and non-fiction from speculating about his activities and character.
Marlowe has often been described as a spy, a brawler, and a heretic, as well as a "magician", "duellist", "tobacco-user", "counterfeiter", and " rakehell ". Downie and Constance Kuriyama have argued against the more lurid speculation,  but J. Steane remarked, "it seems absurd to dismiss all of these Elizabethan rumours and accusations as 'the Marlowe myth'". The author Charles Nicholl speculates this was the case and suggests that Marlowe's recruitment took place when he was at Cambridge.
As noted above, in the Privy Council ordered the University of Cambridge to award Marlowe his degree of Master of Arts, denying rumours that he intended to go to the English Catholic college in Rheims, saying instead that he had been engaged in unspecified "affaires" on "matters touching the benefit of his country". Surviving college buttery provisions store accounts indicate he began spending lavishly on food and drink during the periods he was in attendance  — more than he could have afforded on his known scholarship income.
St John Brooks in ; in a letter to Notes and Queries , John Baker has added that only Marlowe could be Arbella's tutor due to the absence of any other known "Morley" from the period with an MA and not otherwise occupied. Boas dismisses the possibility of this identification, based on surviving legal records which document his "residence in London between September and December ".
Marlowe had been party to a fatal quarrel involving his neighbours and the poet Thomas Watson in Norton Folgate and was held in Newgate Prison for a fortnight. He was sent to be dealt with by the Lord Treasurer Burghley but no charge or imprisonment resulted. He was to infiltrate the followers of the active Catholic plotter William Stanley and report back to Burghley.
The plaque shown here is modern. In early May several bills were posted about London threatening Protestant refugees from France and the Netherlands who had settled in the city. One of these, the "Dutch church libel",  written in rhymed iambic pentameter , contained allusions to several of Marlowe's plays and was signed, " Tamburlaine ". On 11 May the Privy Council ordered the arrest of those responsible for the libels.
The next day, Marlowe's colleague Thomas Kyd was arrested. Kyd's lodgings were searched and a 3-page fragment of a heretical tract was found.
In a letter to Sir John Puckering , Kyd asserted that it had belonged to Marlowe,  with whom he had been writing "in one chamber" some two years earlier. Various accounts of Marlowe's death were current over the next few years. In his Palladis Tamia , published in , Francis Meres says Marlowe was "stabbed to death by a bawdy serving-man, a rival of his in his lewd love" as punishment for his "epicurism and atheism. The official account came to light only in when the scholar Leslie Hotson discovered the coroner 's report of the inquest on Marlowe's death, held two days later on Friday 1 June , by the Coroner of the Queen's Household , William Danby.
All three had been employed by one or other of the Walsinghams. Skeres and Poley had helped snare the conspirators in the Babington plot and Frizer would later describe Thomas Walsingham as his "master" at that time  although his role was probably more that of a financial or business agent as he was for Walsingham's wife Audrey a few years later. Marlowe snatched Frizer's dagger and wounded him on the head. In the ensuing struggle, according to the coroner's report, 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. Marlowe was buried in an unmarked grave in the churchyard of St. Nicholas, Deptford immediately after the inquest, on 1 June Kittredge said "The mystery of Marlowe's death, heretofore involved in a cloud of contradictory gossip and irresponsible guess-work, is now cleared up for good and all on the authority of public records of complete authenticity and gratifying fullness", but this confidence proved fairly short-lived.
Hotson himself had considered the possibility that the witnesses had "concocted a lying account of Marlowe's behaviour, to which they swore at the inquest, and with which they deceived the jury" but came down against that scenario. Tannenbaum a graduate of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons insisted the following year that such a wound could not have possibly resulted in instant death, as had been claimed.
There is something queer about the whole episode" and said that Hotson's discovery "raises almost as many questions as it answers. Some biographers, such as Kuriyama  and Downie,  nevertheless take the inquest to be a true account of what occurred, but in trying to explain what really happened if the account was not true, others have come up with a variety of murder theories.
Jealous of her husband Thomas's relationship with Marlowe, Audrey Walsingham arranged for the playwright to be murdered. Since there are only written documents on which to base any conclusions, and since it is probable that the most crucial information about his death was never committed to writing at all, it is unlikely that the full circumstances of Marlowe's death will ever be known.
A foul sheet from Marlowe's writing of The Massacre at Paris Reproduced from Folger Shakespeare Library Ms. The governor of Flushing had reported that each of the men had "of malice" accused the other of instigating the counterfeiting, and of intending to go over to the Catholic "enemy"; such an action was considered atheistic by the Church of England.
Following Marlowe's arrest in , Baines submitted to the authorities a "note containing the opinion of one Christopher Marly concerning his damnable judgment of religion, and scorn of God's word. He also implies that Marlowe had Catholic sympathies. Other passages are merely sceptical in tone: The final paragraph of Baines's document reads: When these thinges shalbe Called in question the witnes shalbe produced.
Another document  claimed at around the same time that "one Marlowe is able to show more sound reasons for Atheism than any divine in England is able to give to prove divinity, and that Presumably these authorities did not consider any of Marlowe's works to be unacceptable other than the Amores.
Sexuality[ edit ] Marlowe is frequently claimed to have been homosexual. Others argue that the question of whether an Elizabethan was gay or homosexual in a modern sense is anachronistic. For the Elizabethans, what is often today termed homosexual or bisexual was more likely to be recognised as a sexual act, rather than an exclusive sexual orientation and identity.
Richard Baines reported Marlowe as saying: David Bevington and Eric Rasmussen describe Baines's evidence as "unreliable testimony" and make the comment: Steane , remarked that he considers there to be "no evidence for Marlowe's homosexuality at all. He watched his arms and, as they opened wide [a]t every stroke, betwixt them would he slide [a]nd steal a kiss, And dive into the water, and there pry [u]pon his breast, his thighs, and every limb, The mightiest kings have had their minions;.