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Authors: Christopher Marlowe

The Complete Plays

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THE COMPLETE PLAYS

CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE
(b. 1564) was the eldest son of Canterbury shoemaker John Marlowe, and his wife, Katherine. He was elected to the King's School Canterbury at the age of fourteen, and within two years had secured a scholarship which took him to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he was supposedly destined for a career in the Anglican Church. He successfully completed his BA examinations in 1584, and continued his studies as a candidate for the MA. During this period his absences from Cambridge stirred rumours that he was about to flee to the Catholic seminary at Rheims in France. In 1587 the Privy Council took the unusual step of persuading the University authorities to grant Marlowe his MA since he had been employed ‘in matters touching the benefit of his country'; this has fuelled speculation that he was working as a government agent.

Marlowe probably began his writing career at Cambridge, composing translations of Ovid's
Amores
, and Lucan's
Pharsalia
, as well as producing
Dido, Queen of Carthage
for the Children of the Chapel in 1586 (possibly co-written with Thomas Nashe). In 1587–8 he acquired his reputation as one of the leading new talents on the London stage with
Tamburlaine the Great
. His finest play,
Doctor Faustus
, was written in 1588–9, and was followed by
The Jew of Malta
(
c
. 1590),
Edward the Second
and
The Massacre at Paris
(both
c
. 1592). The erotic epyllion
Hero and Leander
was probably written in 1592–3 when the plague forced the theatres to close.

Throughout this period, Marlowe was frequently in trouble with the authorities, though for his actions and not his play-writing. He and the poet Thomas Watson were briefly imprisoned in September 1589 for their involvement in the death of William Bradley; in 1592 Marlowe was deported from Flushing, Holland, having been implicated in a counterfeiting scheme. He acquired a dangerous reputation as an atheist, and the following year he was summoned to appear before the Privy Council on charges of blasphemy, arising from evidence provided by Thomas Kyd, the author of the hugely popular play
The Spanish Tragedy.
Several days later, on 30 May 1593, Christopher Marlowe was fatally stabbed in Deptford.

FRANK ROMANY
was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he also taught for some years. He was until September 2003 Lecturer and Tutor in English at St John's College, Oxford. He has published on Shakespeare and is at work on a book on John Milton.

ROBERT LINDSEY
is the Associate Editor of the journal
Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England
. He has edited Marlowe's
Edward the Second
and has completed a new edition of the plays of John Webster. He is a lecturer in Classical Acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama, London.

CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE

The Complete Plays

Edited by
FRANK ROMANY
and
ROBERT LINDSEY

PENGUIN BOOKS

PENGUIN BOOKS

Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London
WC2R ORL
, England
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London
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, England

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First published 2003
9

Editorial material copyright © Frank Romany and Robert Lindsey, 2003
All rights reserved

The moral rights of the editors have been asserted

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject
to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent,
re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's
prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in
which it is published and without a similar condition including this
condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

EISBN: 9781101488508

Preface

This is an edition of the seven plays which modern scholarship has convincingly attributed to Marlowe. The texts have been edited from the earliest printed editions and are fully modernized. Although it has become fashionable to print two versions of
Doctor Faustus
(the A- and B-texts), we have included only the A-text, in the belief that the B-text is for the most part a later, post-Marlovian adaptation of the play, the inclusion of which would have made this already large volume unwieldy for its readers. The text of
Doctor Faustus
is discussed in more detail in the Notes, while general editorial procedures are explained in the Note on the Texts.

Individual English words which are unfamiliar, obsolete or obscure are, as far as possible, explained in the Glossary (G); allusions to named people and places in the List of Mythological, Historical and Geographical Names (N). These provide core information only (such as the essential meanings of words and the outlines of myths). For further help with the understanding of the texts, the reader is referred to the Notes. Each play has a headnote dealing with matters such as the date, sources and interpretation of the play, followed by more detailed notes on the text. These deal with individual words in cases where fuller discussion is required than is possible in (G), or where the reader might not realize that an unfamiliar Elizabethan meaning is intended (‘false friends'), or where Marlowe's usage is idiosyncratic; with the meaning of larger sense-units; with matters of theatrical and literary interpretation; and with the specific local pertinence of mythological and historical allusions. The Notes also record substantive emendations to the text, and include
translations, as literal as possible, of passages in languages other than English.

This edition is a close collaboration between the editors, but readers may wish to know that the texts have been prepared by Robert Lindsey, while Frank Romany is principally responsible for the Introduction and Notes. Both editors wish to express their gratitude to Monica Schmoller for her patient work as copy-editor, and to the British Library and the Folger Shakespeare Library for their permission to reproduce manuscript materials in their collections.

Chronology

1564
26
February
: Christopher, son of John Marlowe, a shoemaker, and his wife Katherine, baptized at St George the Martyr, Canterbury.

1579 Awarded scholarship at the King's School Canterbury (where he had perhaps received his earlier education).

1580
December
: Earliest recorded residence at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

1581–
7
Parker Scholar at Corpus Christi.

1584 Petitions for BA degree.

1585–6 Some absences from Cambridge.

1586?
Dido, Queen of Carthage
, perhaps co-written with Thomas Nashe.

1587
July
: MA, after certification from the Privy Council that rumours that Marlowe intended to leave England for Rheims, home of an English Catholic seminary, were untrue, and that he had done the queen ‘good service'.

1587–8
Tamburlaine the Great
Parts One and Two performed in London.

1588? At work on translations of Ovid's
Amores
, published as
All Ovid's Elegies
, and of Book One of Lucan's epic
Pharsalia
(
De Bello Civile
), published as
Lucan's First Book
.

1588–9 Earlier possible date of composition of
Doctor Faustus
.

1589
18 September
: Imprisoned in Newgate on suspicion of murder after William Bradley, a little-known figure with a history of violence, is killed in a fight with Marlowe and his friend the poet Thomas Watson.

3 December
: Appears before justices and is discharged.

1590 Perhaps acting as a courier in France.

?Writes
The Jew of Malta
.

1591 Shares lodgings with the dramatist Thomas Kyd.

1592
26 January
: Deported from Flushing, Holland, after Richard Baines, convert from Catholicism and intelligence agent, implicates him in a counterfeiting scheme.

9 May
: Bound over to keep the peace after a brawl with constables in Shoreditch.

?Writes
Edward the Second
and
The Massacre at Paris
.

1592–3 Theatres closed because of plague. Possible composition of erotic narrative poem
Hero and Leander
. Later possible date of composition of
Doctor Faustus
.

1593
18 May
: Privy Council issues warrant for his arrest, at the house of Thomas Walsingham, Marlowe's patron, in Kent or elsewhere, after Kyd claims that supposedly heretical papers found in his rooms belong to Marlowe.

20 May
: Answers warrant and appears before Privy Council.

30 May
: Murdered apparently in self-defence by Ingram Frizer, servant of Walsingham, in Deptford.

1 June
: Buried at St Nicholas church, Deptford.

?
2 June
: Baines accuses Marlowe of numerous blasphemies.

28 June
: Frizer pardoned.

Introduction

It is not easy to account for the power of Marlowe's plays.
*
They are unevenly written, not always well constructed, and some survive only in mangled and unreliable texts. Yet an obscure, even dark, imaginative energy is released in them – in the victories of Tamburlaine, in Faustus' encounters with the demonic, in the irreverence of Barabas and in the humiliation of Edward. At bottom, this energy is religious. Elizabethan playwrights were not allowed to handle sacred subjects, but their greatest plays often depend on the feeling of a sacred power gone dark. Marlowe's plays of power and helplessness are filled with the energy of the sacred and its desecration.

He was apparently destined for the Church. Born and brought up in Canterbury, the ancient spiritual capital of England, he went up to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, on a scholarship designed to educate boys for the ministry. In 1587 the university authorities considered withholding his MA (he was rumoured to be about to defect to the Catholic seminary at Rheims), until the Privy Council intervened to point out that in his absences from Cambridge he had done the queen ‘good service' – a phrase usually taken to mean spying – ‘and deserved to be rewarded for his faithful dealing'.
1
He got his MA, but instead of taking holy orders began writing plays for the London theatres, disreputable places – at least in the eyes of the godly – which were under constant attack as dens of iniquity. Marlowe's association with learning continued to be important to him: as late as
1592, when he was deported from Holland for his part in a counterfeiting scheme, he was still ‘by his profession [i.e., by his own account] a scholar'.
2
But his learning was turned to distinctly heterodox ends: he translated Ovid's
Amores
, erotic poems that verged on pornography in Elizabethan eyes (they were published surreptitiously as
All Ovid's Elegies
, the title emphasizing the fact that they were unexpurgated); and he acquired a dangerous reputation for atheism. The sometime Cambridge don, Gabriel Harvey, called him ‘a Lucian', associating him with the Greek satirist notorious for mocking the gods.
3
His religious views were under investigation at the time of his violent death in 1593. One Richard Cholmeley claimed to have been ‘converted' by him and alleged that ‘Marlowe is able to show more sound reasons for atheism than any divine in England is able to give to prove divinity and that Marlowe told him that he hath read the atheist lecture to Sir Walter Ralegh and others.'
4

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