18 May: Smearing Christopher Marlowe

Atheist, homosexual, heretic… the slurs levelled at popular playwright Christopher Marlowe came thick and fast after he was arrested on 18th May, 1593. Just twelve days later, he was murdered in a London tavern.

His former roomate, Thomas Kyd, pointed the finger at Marlowe after being tortured following the discovery of a ‘treasonous’ pamphlet in his home. Perhaps for the first time in Marlowe’s career, the privy council (who had, probably, been employing him as a spy) did not come to his rescue and drop the charges.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain what (supposedly) caused the row in the tavern that escalated to homicide; consider Marlowe’s giddy rise from shoemaker’s son to Cambridge graduate; and revisit some of the fruitier heresies in which he was alleged to engage… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Christopher Marlowe’ (Poetry Foundation): https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/christopher-marlowe

• ‘New twist to Marlowe’s murder riddle’ (The Guardian, 2001): https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2001/jul/01/books.humanities

• ‘MINI BIO: Christopher Marlowe – Elizabethean Dramatist’ (Biography, 2017):