I live in California on Belvedere Island, across the bay from San Francisco. I have Australian film maker Mike Rubbo to thank for introducing me to Marlowe's story ten years ago. It was 9:00 P.M. on a Tuesday night when his film Much Ado About Something suddenly appeared on Frontline and launched me onto this road less traveled. There were two facts presented in Much Ado About Something that specifically aroused my interest.
The film had a dialogue between Mike Rubbo and England's noted Shakespearean scholar, Jonathan Bate. That scene captured Bate making an obvious error in his Shakespeare studies. After Mike Rubbo told Bate the name "William Shakespeare" had never appeared on any piece of literary work until two weeks after Marlowe's "death", on the long poem Venus and Adonis, Bate authoritatively brushed it off, saying, "It was registered two weeks before Marlowe's death in Shakespeare's name." His implication was that the poem had the name William Shakespeare on it before Marlowe died, so it wasn't a pseudonym.
Mike Rubbo responded to this implication, saying, "But it was registered anonymously."
Bate was visibly taken aback. "It was?" he said.
I would eventually learn that this gem of a moment captured on film revealed just one of many gaps in the universities' studies of Marlowe's myriad possible connections with the name Shakespeare, in spite of the fact that the nineteenth century scholars who set precedence for the traditional view of the Bard noted Shakespeare certainly began his writing career imitating Marlowe -which is exactly what we would expect if Shakespeare was Marlowe. While most scholars agree the Coroner's Report on Marlowe's death is suspicious and all scholars agree there is no direct literary evidence proving the Stratford Shakespeare wrote the Works, contemporary academics don't bat and eye. The numerous links in the chain of coincidences providing cumulative evidence Shakespeare was Marlowe does not even awaken their curiosity.
I had to ask myself, might they be under the spell of an unconscious imperative?
The film's second item that aroused my interest, even more than a respected Shakespearean scholar's gap in knowledge, was the fact that the three men in the room with Marlowe when he "died" were all secret agents, and the man listed in the Coroner's Report as Marlowe's killer was the personal employee of Marlowe's own patron, Thomas Walsingham. At that time, I knew as little about Christopher Marlowe as my college Shakespeare professors, who had never even mentioned him. Mike Rubbo's narrative filled me in on a few more facts: Thomas Walsingham was the second cousin to Sir Francis Walsingham, England's Secretary of State and head of secret intelligence. Thomas Walsingham's father died when he was eleven years-old, he then went to live with Sir Francis Walsingham who was also England's ambassador to France at the time. Later, I would discover that the three men in the room with Marlowe when he died had all worked with Thomas Walsingham in the Babington Plot. They would not have killed Marlowe without Thomas Walsingham giving the order. Neither would they have participated in the faking of Marlowe's death without Thomas Walsingham giving the order.
I had to ask myself, "What is the likelihood Marlowe's patron and friend, the man Marlowe was living with when he was arrested, would have given the order to assassinate him? And if it was an assassination, why the need for a Coroner's Report? Why not just kill him in an alley somewhere? What is the likelihood Walsingham's personal employee Frizer, listed as the killer in the Coroner's Report, would have really killed his employer's friend (not to mention England's greatest dramatist at the time) in a scuffle? Later I would discover that Ingram Frizer went on working for Thomas Walsingham for the next twenty years. This seemed highly unlikely if Frizer had really killed Walsingham's friend in a scuffle. Later I would also discover the only possible answer to the question of a Coroner's Report was the need to 1. Make it legitimate that Marlowe was dead, and had not escaped to the continent. They did not want Baines or any other men stalking Marlowe. 2. This enabled them to bury the body they had used, quite possibly John Penry's body, and to say they had buried it in the plague pit, the "unmarked grave" at St. Nicholas's Church, Deptford. The plague was raging throughout London at this time.
I discovered that the room where the three men met was in a home owned by Dame Eleanor Bull. It was not a tavern, as most academic types refer to it. Dame Bull had Court connections. Her sister, Blanche, was the god-daughter of Blanche Parry, who had been the much loved nanny of the infant Elizabeth and was Lord Burghley's cousin. Dame Bull hired out rooms and served meals. Lord Burghley left Dame Bull money in his will. Her home was likely a safe house for Government Agents. All the government agents worked for men who had invested in the Muscovy Company (later the Russia Company) which was also housed at Dame Bull's. Dame Bull's husband, a friend of Lord Burghley, had worked for the government with this company. Before he died, her husband dealt directly with the Muscovy Company's manager, Anthony Marlowe, said to have been Christopher Marlowe's Crayford relative. Few scholars other than Richard Wilson (in his essay Visible Bullets: Tamburlaine the Great and Ivan the Terrible) have seen the connections between the Muscovy Company and Marlowe's play Tamburlaine.
If Thomas Walsingham had commanded Frizer to merely act as the killer for the required Coroner's Report, he would have had to have received consent from Lord Burghley. One of the secret agents in the room was working directly under Lord Burghley at the time of the "killing", we know this because of the date on a surviving receipt of payment from the treasury. Lord Burghley and Francis Walsingham were the two top men in the English Government until Francis died in 1590. They were the two men closest to the Queen. Lord Burghley, the chief advisor to the Queen during most of her reign and Lord High Treasurer, was the man who told Cambridge to give Marlowe his Master's Degree when they held it back out of suspicion he had gone to the Catholic side. Rumor, and now myth, have always plagued Marlowe. It was Burghley who squelched this particular rumor when he told Cambridge Marlowe had been doing honorable service for the State.
It is not likely that Lord Burghley would have consented to a faked death without the Queen's consent. I discovered that the woman Thomas Walsingham would soon marry was Audrey Shelton whose family had strong connections with the Queen. Her grandfather, Sir John Shelton, had married Anne Boleyn, an aunt of the unfortunate queen, mother of Queen Elizabeth, and it was to them that Elizabeth fled for protection when she was persecuted by her half sister, Mary Tudor. Later when Elizabeth came to the throne she showed her gratitude by inviting members of the family to live with her at the Court. Audrey's aunt, Mary, sister of her father Sir Ralph Shelton, was Queen Elizabeth's Maid of Honor and later Mistress of the Robes. Audrey herself was the queen's chamber maid.
I discovered Queen Elizabeth pardoned Frizer on June 28th for the "killing in self-defense", only one month later. The mere four weeks Frizer spent in prison was a rarity. Thomas Watson spent six months in Newgate prison while he waited for the Queen's pardon for his killing Bradley in self-defense even though there had been a crowd of people on the street who testified for him.
You can read a short synopsis of Marlowe's death at Deptford and Thomas Walsingham's connection to it at England's Marlowe Society website. The Marlowe Society is neutral on the authorship question, although it does incorporate the possibility because a fairly even portion of the fellowship believes Marlowe was Shakespeare.
Since that Tuesday night a decade ago, I have been plunged in Marlowe, Shakespeare, the 16th century, and the history of academia's scholarship on all the above. During this fascinating literary journey I have learned many other facts that are directly related to Marlowe's story. It is an incredibly complex one, full of coincidences that can be logically connected to the facts we know. The pattern forms a drama better than any play Shakespeare ever wrote.
Marlowe Studies Entry: April 1, 2011
I've learned during this decade of study that academia's essays interpreting Marlowe's plays always leave out the details that would contradict their hypotheses. This is a sly form of fallacious argumentation, the kind lawyers utilize. For example, when they cite the charges of Marlowe's Atheism in Baines' Note, they rarely mention the murky circumstances around the informant Richard Baines such as his own written confession of atheism, or his suspicious release from Rheims by the Catholics after threatening to poison their well. Neither do the new orthodox scholars mention that the 16th century term "atheist" was a general statement defining free-thinkers. One merely has to follow the history of heresy charges in Europe to realize this. Sir Francis Bacon gives us this definition in his essay "Of Atheism". The contemporary essays streaming forth from the universities all look at Marlowe through a keyhole shaped by myth. One of Sir Walter Raleigh's stanzas in his eerily 21st Century styled poem The Lie still holds true today:
Tell arts they have no soundness,
But vary by esteeming;
Tell schools they want profoundness,
And stand too much on seeming:
If arts and school reply,
Give arts and school the lie.
One example of the universities' popular Marlowe Myth is that of the "sleazy secret agent". It seems the PhDs have not asked themselves the question, "At the time of England's greatest threat from Spain, why would Lord Burghley and Sir Francis Walsingham not use their secret agent Marlowe, who just happened to be England's most successful playwright, to write plays for the Nation State?" As a hypothesis, this idea can be backed up by Burghley's and Walsingham's attitudes toward Archbishop Whitgift's policies. Both men feared the power of the church influencing that of the State. As an exercise in scholastic pursuit, we might ask ourselves if there is anything else that could back up the idea Marlowe wrote plays for the State. We will begin by pursuing factual coincidences.
Massacre At Paris
Marlowe wrote Massacre at Paris in 1592, the year before he was arrested at Thomas Walsingham’s Scadbury estate. I have learned that Thomas Walsingham was only eleven years old when living with Sir Francis Walsingham in France during the St Bartholomew Day Massacre of 1572. Together they saw between 5,000 and 30,000 Protestant Huguenots murdered in the Paris streets. Given these connections, it is more than fair to assume Christopher Marlowe wrote this play for his patron Thomas Walsingham. Yet no academic has ever speculated upon this. In The World of Christopher Marlowe, David Riggs says of Marlowe's sources for this play:
“He had an intimate, firsthand knowledge of the feud between King Henry III and the Guise. Much of the factual material in the latter part of The Massacre can only be verified by recourse to confidential sources in the State Papers. Marlowe obtained this information by word of mouth from men who had been witness to these events. In contrast to the Partisan accounts of protestant and Catholic pamphleteers, he gives an even-handed, densely factual report on the feud. The brief documentary scenes that succeed one another in The Massacre At Paris resemble diplomatic dispatches; these were the raw materials of intelligence field work.”
Edward the Second
We have good evidence that Christopher Marlowe wrote his play Edward the Second for Sir Francis Walsingham, his boss in the Secret Service. This evidence comes to us in the form of Walsingham's report to the Queen concerning his visit to the young King James in Scotland, a long journey he made because of his great concern over James' relationship with the Catholic Esme Stuart. No one in academia has written about this connection to Edward the Second.
In 1583 Sir Francis Walsingham made this trip to Scotland where he conferred privately with the young King James in order to countercheck the influence of Spain on him. Walsingham’s foremost concern was James’ relationship with his second cousin Esme Stuart who was the king’s strongest political influence. Stuart had been sent to Scotland by the Duke of Guise in order to restore French (Catholic) interests. Walsingham later wrote a report for the Queen detailing his communication with James, the theme of which is echoed in Marlowe's play Edward the Second. I've put part of what Francis Walsingham said to the King here:
"That therefore divers princes . . . have been deposed, for that being advised to remove the said counselors from them rather than to yield to them, have been content to run any hazard or adventure, whereof both the histories of England and Scotland did give sufficient precedents . . . That as subjects are bound to obey dutifully so were princes bound to command justly; which reason and ground of government was set down the deposition of Edward the Second, as by ancient record thereof doth appear."
Sir Francis Walsingham’s "said counselors” that might induce a "young prince” to "run any hazard or adventure” refers to James’ close relationship with Stuart. James was in the line of succession to the English crown. His attitude about governance was of extreme importance to all the men Marlowe worked for in the secret service. The above excerpt, with its, “which reason and ground of government was set down the deposition of Edward the Second” suggests the purpose of Marlowe’s play Edward II was Sir Francis Walsingham’s. As for Walsingham’s warning to James that princes have been deposed for showing too much favor to "said counselors”, in the play Marlowe has Lancaster tell Edward, “Look for rebellion, look to be deposed . . .” One of Walsingham’s chief concerns was that King James had showered Stuart with gifts and political power; he’d been made a member of the Privy Council, Gentleman of the Bedchamber, and governor of Dumbarton Castle. In Act I of Edward II we find King Edward saying the following lines that reveal Francis Walsingham’s concern with the giving away of the body politic:
Edward: I here create thee Lord High Chamberlain,
Chief Secretary to the state and me,
Earl of Cornwall, King and Lord of Man . . .
I’ll give thee more; for but to honor thee
Is Edward pleased with kingly regiment.
Fearst thou thy person? Thou shalt have a guard.
Wantst thou gold? Go to my treasury.
Wouldst thou be loved and feared? Receive my seal.
Marlowe Studies Entry: April 13, 2011
Masssacre At Paris and Edward the Second fit easily into State interests. Edward the Third is also a play that fits into State interests. There can be no question that Marlowe wrote Edward The Third after one reads Wraight's essay "An 'Armada' History Play" from her marvelous book Christopher Marlowe and Edward Alleyn, written long before current scholarship realilzed it alluded to the battle with the Spanish Armada. In this essay we discover that the only documented evidence we have from the Sixteenth Century tells us Marlowe wrote this play (co-authored probably by Peele). Wraight's investigation to establish the authorship of Edward the Third begins with several allusions in the prose works of Greene and Nashe between 1588 and 1592. The most informative of these is the jealous playwright Greene's 1590 blast at Edward Alleyn, who played most of Marlowe's main characters on the stage:
"Why Roscius, art thou proud with Esops Crow, being pract with the glorie of others feathers? Of thy selfe thou canst say nothing, and if the Cobler hath taught thee to say Ave Caesar, disdain not thy tutor because thou pratest in a kings Chamber."
Wraight identifies “Roscius” as the actor Edward Alleyn, who was often called “Roscius” after the famous Roman actor. She identifies “the Cobler” who taught “Roscius” to say ”Ave Caesar” as Christopher Marlowe who was the son of a cobbler. She identifies the play Greene is referring to by the lines that “Roscius” spoke containing the words “Ave Caesar” taking place in the “kings Chamber” (in the play a room of state at Westminster Palace where King Edward is deciding to go to war with France). These words and this scene are in Act I, Scene 1 of Edward the Third in which Alleyn played the Black Prince, “ . . . whose rousing curtain speech at the end of the first scene announces the martial theme of the play with his exultant cry: ‘Ave Caesar!” Wraight says there is no other play during that time to which these allusions can possibly apply.
Prince; As cheerful sounding to my youthful spleen
This tumult is, of war’s increasing broils,
As, at the coronation of a king,
The joyful clamours of the people are,
When ‘Ave Caesar!’ they pronounce aloud
Edward the Third Act I, Scene 1. 11.160-4
Marlowe Studies Entry: April 14, 2011
We have not one, but two allusions from Marlowe's contemporaries that he wrote Edward the Third.
In Thomas Nashe’s 1592 Piers Penniless, he associates the words “Ave Caesar” with a speech spoken by the actor who is identified as "the Cobler’s Crow” in a play written by the Cobbler:
"The Cobler’s Crowe, for crying Ave Caesar bee more esteemed than rater birds that have warbled sweeter notes unrewarded."
The Marlowe Studies has provided a synopsis of Wraight's research on Edward the Third for those interested in pursuing the credibility of her claim that Marlowe was the main author. Should one agree Marlowe wrote much of this play, it becomes logical to see it as the missing link between the early Marlowe and later Marlowe as Shakespeare. Edward the Third marks the pivotal point for a paradigm shift in academia's one-dimensional interpretation of Marlowe’s character as well as his work. To believe Marlowe wrote this play, Tamburlaine and Faustus can no longer be seen as projections of Marlowe’s own ambitious desires, but characters developed with the objectivity of a young artist before his genius had matured.
King Henry VI, Parts 2 and 3
Wraight sets us straight on the path for these two plays that academia wants to ascribe to Shakespeare as his first works. She contrasts her argument with that of Peter Alexander who set the template for academia's "New Orthodoxy". This would be a good essay for student's to read in order to learn how to spot fallacious argumentation. The motive behind Alexander's thesis was the need to succeed at establishing the Stratford man's presence as a dramatist in London before 1594.
The need to place Shakespeare into the role of dramatist with hard evidence only sprang up in the early twentieth century. Before then, scholars were focused on gathering his works and attempting interpretations, not on the lack of hard evidence for his having lived the life of the great dramatist. They assumed he was the Shakespeare of Stratford, because that is to whom the Monument and First Folio seemed to be dedicated. Before the twentieth century, scholars did not consciously know enough about post modern 16th century England's politics, Marlowe's life and its relationship to the plays and sonnets, and, most importantly, the complete lack of any evidence that tells us the Stratford man wrote the Works. In other words, there was no Authorship Question.
Academia is conspicuously slow in accepting the authorship question.
Academia's persona refuses to bat an eyelash at the authorship question and fiercely clings to the Marlowe Myth they have not only perpetuated, but embellished by basing their essays on the myth's assumptive foundation. College students are given Greenblatt's Will In The World to read as if it were historical scholarship, when in reality it is built upon the sandy ground of assumptions breeding assumptions of their own, stacked precariously high as the Tower of Babel. Alexander's 1929 fallacious argument is the basement of Greenblatt's wistful blast into the past, the foundation of his cotton candy fictional biography (although it does provide many interesting 16th century facts). Should students want to write a paper on this topic, we have the most extensive study ever performed on it in our library: Origin of 1 Henry VI, by Dr Allison Gaw.
Wraight says, "These two plays on the Wars of the Roses have been the battleground of Shakespearean scholars for the last two hundred years. The authorship of these anonymous works has been seen as crucial to the problem of Shakespeare’s ‘lost years’."
In 1921 Dr C. F. Tucker Brooke undertook a detailed textual analysis of these two plays, because he found that no adequate textual examination had been conducted, although argument and counter-argument concerning the authorship of the plays continually exercised the minds of scholars. The result of his objective, critical and, indeed, exhaustive investigation of their authorial problems was to ascribe both plays without any doubt to Marlowe’s hand in his thesis The Authorship of the Second and Third Parts of ‘King Henry VI’, published in Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1921. He has been supported by Dr Allison Gaw in his masterly expose of the vexed question of the authorship of the companion work in the trilogy, the Folio’s The first Part of Henry the Sixt in The Origin and Development of I Henry VI published in 1926, in which he has brilliantly demonstrated that this is clearly a collaborative play, which is mainly, but not all Marlowe’s work, with a remarkable theatrical history that is the subject of Chapter VIII."
It is to be understood that the two studies Wraight mentions are the most thorough of all the studies on these plays. They were both performed by "orthodox" Shakespearean scholars.
"Today the orthodox school adopts a diametrically opposite view attributing the authorship of the entire Henry VI trilogy to Shakespeare’s hand alone, despite the fact that it has been impossible to refute Tucker Brooke’s or Dr Gaw’s finely argue theses. The orthodox position has been achieved by the expedient, not of refuting Tucker Brooke’s irrefutable arguments, but by misrepresenting them; and in the case of Dr Gaw’s great thesis, by simply ignoring its existence, apart from a mere passing reference to it – a courtesy nod as from one scholar to another. This nod comes from Peter Alexander, who is the man responsible for having staged a feigned refutation of Tucker Brooke’s findings concerning Marlowe’s authorship of The Contention and True Tragedy as will be established in the following examination of the argument the present firmly entrenched orthodox view of the authorship of the Henry VI trilogy as by Shakespeare’s hand alone exists, therefore, on unsound and contentious foundations.
Significantly, the only scholar of stature who has in more recent years re-examined Tucker Brooke’s evidence in the detail it deserves has endorsed his findings as conclusive. This is John Bakeless in his monumental two-volume biography, The Tragicall History of Christopher Marlowe, published in 1942, in which he has added yet further confirmatory evidence to support Dr Brooke’s thesis.
Marlowe’s other important biographer, Frederick S. Boas, in his Christopher Marlowe, 1940, gives an overall brief review of the opposing arguments concerning the authorship of these plays, but remains cautious about taking any side in this contentious contention; but, for our purposes, his concise resume of Tucker Brooke’s thesis will suffice as introduction to the problems.
‘The literary quality of The Contention and The True Tragedy, in Brooke’s view, points to Marlowe as being their author. They exhibit “a brilliant synthesis of plot and emotion”, and “the whole tangled story is resolutely pitched in a single key”. Moreover, the respective relations of Henry VI, Queen Margaret, Suffolk, and Prince Edward in these two plays are closely akin to those of Edward II, Queen Isabel, Mortimer, and Prince Edward in [Marlowe’s] Edward II. The versification, with its predominant number of end stopped lines, and its absence of double endings, is characteristic of Marlowe. But the most concrete support for Marlowe’s claim is found by Brooke in the remarkable number of passages in The Contention and The True Tragedy which have in Marlowe’s accepted plays or which are repeated in the quartos themselves. Such parallelism and repetition are both characteristic of Marlowe’s technique. Brooked gives a list of Twenty-eight parallels with plays in the recognized Marlovian canon, fourteen of which are with Edward II and nine with The Massacre at Paris. He gives also fifteen examples of repetition within The Contention and The True Tragedy.’
In 1912 Dr C.F. Tucker Brooke, through a careful examination of the external and internal evidence relating to The Contention and The True Tragedy, and especially of a series of forty-three groups of parallel passages strongly typical of Marlowe and interweaving those plays with the entire list of Marlowe’s undoubted dramas, proved conclusively, to my mind, his thesis that both of these plays were originally the sole work of Marlowe.
Surprisingly, in view of the intense interest in this problem, there has been no commensurate in-depth study of the texts of these two plays since Tucker Brooke, apart from Peter Alexander’s treatment in 1929, which has again been refuted by Bakeless. Nevertheless, modern scholarship has elected to follow Alexander in uncritical obedience and has contrived to steer a devious course which avoids actual confrontation with this mass of carefully collated evidence by substituting subjective opinion and hypothesis for objective research.
The ‘new orthodoxy’ that has become established claiming these plays as solely the work of Shakespeare is based on the not-so-new theory first put forward by J.S. Smart in 1928 and developed by Peter Alexander in his Shakespeare’s Henry VI and Richard III, published in 1929. Alexander is clearly interested, not so much in objectively examining the textual evidence of The Contention and The True Tragedy in relation to Marlowe’s works, but in finding a plausible explanation for the beginning of Shakespeare’s career in the absence of anything linking him with any of the acting companies before Christmas 1594.
The texts of the quartos of The Contention and The True Tragedy constitute one half and two-thirds respectively of 2 and 3 Henry VI in the First Folio, showing the typical abbreviated version of texts printed in so-called ‘bad’ quartos of the period, and both plays were performed by the Earl of Pembroke’s Men, as also was Marlowe’s Edward II. This association of all three plays with Pembroke’s Men gives Alexander his starting point. To summarize, his hypothesis is as follows:
1. The two curtailed versions of 2 and 3 Henry VI published in ‘bad’ quartos as The Contention and The True Tragedy represent surreptitious copies of Shakespeare’s plays furnished by the actors of Pembroke’s company to the printer, Thomas Millington. [ASSUMPTION]
2. Shakespeare had already written the complete Henry VI, Part 2 and 3 for the Pembroke company in or about 1590, or the actors could not have obtained the text for their surreptitious copy to sell to the printer. [ASSUMPTION]
3. Since Shakespeare had written these plays in about 1590 for the Pembroke Men he must already have been installed as a member of that company as actor or resident playwright before Marlowe arrived on the scene to write his Edward II for them. [ASSUMPTION BUILT UPON AN ASSUMPTION]
4. Marlowe, therefore, wrote his Edward II after Shakespeare’s two history plays and in imitation of them. Marlowe is thereby revealed as the follower of Shakespeare and not the innovator of the English history play, as had always hitherto been accredited to him. He was only Shakespeare’s imitator and it was Shakespeare who was the true innovator of this popular genre of drama. [CONCLUSION BASED ON THREE ASSUMPTIONS]
This neatly turns the tables in favour of Shakespeare’s authorship of The Contention and True Tragedy and additionally gives him the credit as the originator of great English historical drama. Nothing so mundane as ‘evidence’ is produced to support any of these bold assertions, and not the slightest evidence of Shakespeare’s connections with the Earl of Pembroke’s Men in 1589/90 exists. All this is pure guess work on the part of Alexander; nevertheless, he is adamant on the matter, citing the First Folio, published 33 years later, as his ‘Bible’:
‘Marlowe, when he came to write for Pembroke’s men, found Shakespeare one of the company, and his 2 and 3 Henry VI in their repertoire: that these pieces were by Shakespeare is attested by Heminge and Condell, Shakespeare’s editors.’ "
The Marlowe Studies observes in Wraight's argument that she is showing us the very process in which history is distorted into myth. Like the game Chinese Rumours, assumptions by those who are passing the story on - the scholars. Scholars of every new generation are raised upon the foundations set by previous scholars. Students in the universities right now are told to read Alexander’s book by Professors who themselves never bothered to read any of the earlier and later contradictory theses that were written by men who had studied the plays much more deeply than Alexander.
We know the Literature Professors haven’t done any comparison research, and so they have no consciousness of the data in fullness. If they did, they would see what Bakeless, Gaw, and Wraight saw in Tucker Brooke's argument and they would not be able to deny that Alexander in comparison is shown to be the epitome of the fallacious scholar. This is no small literary topic for discussion. Honest scholars like Wraight, Gaw, and Brooke are not hucksters trying to sell you on an idea with cheap assumptions rather than research and the inclusion of the research of other scholar’s.
Because Alexander needed to give the Stratford Shakespeare a place in time as a writer earlier than 1594, in order to establish that it was this man Greene was referring to as Shake-scene, and because he hadn't’t studied Marlowe deeply, nor had he studied Marlowe’s earlier interpreters deeply - or, because he consciously ignored the data given, Alexander could not pursue Marlowe further. He could not see the connection between Marlowe and the growing accumulation of plays that it is likely he wrote. When we put these plays together, we get a nice collection of Marlowe’s history plays: Edward II, Edward the Third, The Contention and The True Tragedy. Most importantly, we see that these plays were likely begun by State prompting via Burghley and Sir Francis Walsingham.
Once we make this connection, it is no great leap to Marlowe’s writing the Southampton sonnets for Burghley. All scholars agree the first 18 sonnets might be to Southampton. They cling to the notion that the Stratford man wrote them for Lord Burghley, with no evidence that Burghley knew this Stratford man. Marlowe worked for Burghley. Burghley made sure Marlowe got his Masters degree when rumors flew at Cambridge he’d gone over to the Catholic side. Burghley had the Privy Council members all sign a petition to the Cambridge authorities saying Marlowe had done good service for the Queen. All the connections academia desires to establish for the Stratford man, we find only in Marlowe.
Marlowe Studies Entry: April 16, 2011
The new criticism coming out of American universities doesn't see Marlowe's plays like Edward the Second within the political historical context (as was briefly interpreted above when taking into account Sir Francis Walsingham's interest in King James). Instead, we get fallacious essays like Jonathan Goldberg's "Sodomy and Society: The Case of Christopher Marlowe", which appears in Christopher Marlowe, Edited and Introduced by Richard Wilson. Wilson introduces this essay, saying, "If modernist critics tended to read Marlowe's writing through his biography, post-modernist critics interpret the life through the plays. Jonathan Goldberg's essay is an instance of this provisional 'return of the author', with its proposition that Marlowe's identity as dramatist, sexual dissident and spy was constructed by the discourses of Elizabethan power, as a foil or shadow to its orthodoxy."
Academia's self-constructed labels like "modernist" and "post-modernist" reveals conscious crafting of its place in the history of Elizabethan literary criticism, while the content of its research is a half-life of literary specialism devoid of historical context. When studying Marlowe and "Shakespeare" one cannot divide literature and history; the two go hand in hand. In spite of the fact that Wilson says Goldberg's essay is a provisonal "return of the author" it is based on the modernist critics mistaken biographies of Marlowe, biographies that left out more information than they put into their books and essays. So now we have Goldberg utilizing the Marlowe Myth in order to provide us with Marlowe's social function in a mish mash of words, such as Wilson's description, "On this view, the sodomy that epitomised Marlowe's transgressive status should be seen not as a postivie act, but as a merely symbolic rebellion, licensed by authority to be its negative Other."
Academia has slid well off the track, and is bogged down in the muck and mire of the 21st century culture's myth-based projections aimed backward 400 years. Modernist and Post-Modernist critics see the moon's reflection on the surface of the lake and grab at it, never clutching anything of substance. They read Marlowe's play about a homosexual King Edward and deduce this means Marlowe was a homosexual. Wraight's research realigns us onto the path in her essay, "Evidence of Marlowe’s Heterosexuality in the Plays". In this essay, she says, "The horrendous murder of the pitiful king devised by Lightborne – surely one of the most coldly cruel and fiendishly evil characters ever created – by driving a red hot iron rod up his anus, is sufficient evidence that this is not the dramatist’s self-identification with the practice of homosexuality. The scene arouses the most powerful emotions of pity and horror in the audience of any scene ever written. I do not believe that anyone who was himself a homosexual could have written this play."
to be continued ...