Editorial 15


Did Marlowe Write the Early History Plays?





Another example of the Marlowe Myth is that of the "sleazy secret agent". It seems many commentators 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. Surely, if Shakespeare were a pseudonym for Marlowe, we would find evidence that Marlowe wrote plays for the State as part of his job in secret intelligence. This would have been one of the factors that led to powerful men in the English Government saving him from torture and execution due to charges of heresy. We will begin by pursuing factual coincidences around the plays Edward the Second, Massacre at Paris, Edward the Third, The First Part of the Contention Betwixt the Two Famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster, The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of Yorke, and the three King Henry VI plays.


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.


The new criticism coming out of academia doesn't see plays like Edward the Second within a political historical context. Instead, we get projective essays like Jonathan Goldberg's "Sodomy and Society: The Case of Christopher Marlowe", which appeared 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."


 In spite of the fact that Wilson says Goldberg's essay is a provisional "return of the author" it is based on the modernist critics' mistaken biographies of Marlowe that left out more information than they put into their books and essays. So now we have Goldberg utilizing the Marlowe Myth to thrust upon Marlowe an imaginary Elizabethan social function. For anyone well-read in Marlowe and post-reformation England, even Wilson's description of the essay is a mish mash of current cultural projection aimed 400 years back in time. Here is one of Wilson's sentences that serves as an example: "On this view, the sodomy that epitomized Marlowe's transgressive status should be seen not as a positive act, but as a merely symbolic rebellion, licensed by authority to be its negative Other."

 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 projected his own homosexuality into Edward II.  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."


Academia's self-constructed labels like "modernist" and "post-modernist" reveals conscious crafting of its persona while the content of its research into Marlowe is a half-life of literary specialism devoid of historical context. Academia ignores the books in our library, such as Alex Jack's Hamlet by Christopher Marlowe, Wraight's The Story That The Sonnets Tell and Christopher Marlowe and Edward Alleyn. When studying Marlowe and Shakespeare one cannot divide literature and history; the two go hand in hand. 



Massacre at Paris

Marlowe wrote Massacre at Paris in 1592, the year before he was arrested at Thomas Walsingham’s Scadbury estate. Sir Francis Walsingham had been England's ambassador to France during the St Bartholomew Day Massacre of 1572. He was living there during the massacre and 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 in memory of Sir Francis who had recently died. 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.


With his Edward the Second, and Massacre At Paris, Marlowe became the progenitor of England's history plays. Both of these play upheld the nation state, although current academics ignore this. They tend, rather, to use Edward the Second as evidence merely of Marlowe's homosexuality (seeming to not have entertained the notion that if Marlowe had been homosexual he probably would not have included the hot poker scene). Academia must keep a firm line between Shakespeare's upholding of the nation state and Marlowe as independent rebel. But this is only because it has misinterpreted Marlowe due to Puritan and Victorian influence. Without any evidence, much of current day academia has given the Stratford Shakespeare credit for writing Edward the Third and the King Henry VI Trilogy. If Shakespeare were a pseudonym for Marlowe, we would expect to find Marlowe's hand as chief architect in these plays academics want to ascribe to Shakespeare, plays that upheld the nation state just as did the two Marlowe plays discussed above. Indeed, we do.


Massacre at Paris and Edward II bear evidence of being written for Sir Francis Walsingham. Both he and Thomas Walsingham had been in Paris during the Bartholomew Day massacre of Protestant French Huguenots and Massacre at Paris uses material that could have only been obtained from his papers. Marlowe’s play Edward II echoes Sir Francis Walsingham’s words to the young King James in 1583, documented in his report to the Queen.


The Queen’s Men were formed under Sir Francis Walsingham’s supervision as a route to anti-Catholic propaganda. One of the plays they performed was The Troublesome Raigne of King John, which is laced with anti-Catholic rhetoric. I suggest that Marlowe wrote The Troublesome Raigne of King John because the Prologue to Part I refers back to Tamburlaine, a habit of his with each new play he wrote:


You that with friendly grace of smoothed brow,

Have entertained the Scythian Tamburlaine,

And given applause unto an Infidel:

Vouchsafe to welcome (with like courtesy),

A Warlike Christian and your Countryman

Prologue, Lines 1-5


The same form of rhetoric exhibited in The Troublesome Raigne of King John against the Catholics was used in The Life and Death of King John against England’s Church hierarchy and it’s Ecclesiastical Courts that demanded nonconformists give the ex officio oath. This play views church-state relations from the perspective of those who thought that rule is human as opposed to divinely ordained, and the law which was said to protect the liberties of the subject by placing limits on the King in both secular and ecclesiastical matters. I suggest Marlowe also wrote King John, under the auspices of Burghley, and this made him as dangerous to Archbishop Whitgift’s policies as Marprelate, Barrow, Greenwood, and Penry. It was during this period that Marlowe was arrested and the charges of heresy were brought against him by the informant Richard Baines.


Massacre at Paris and Edward the Second fit easily into State interests. Edward the Third is also a play that fits into State interests. In A.D. Wraight's chapter "An 'Armada' History Play" from her  Christopher Marlowe and Edward Alleyn, we discover that the only documented evidence we have from the Sixteenth Century tells us Marlowe wrote this play (co-authored probably by Peele, Greene, and/or Kyd). Wraight also shows us how this play is a celebration of England's recent victorious battle with the Spanish Armada. Although many Shakespearean scholars see this now, she was writing about it long before current scholarship realized Edward the Third alludes to the Spanish Armada.


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)


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 rarer 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 the missing link between the early Marlowe and later Marlowe as the patriotic Shakespeare. Not only this, but 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.

John Bakeless, an orthodox Shakespearean, wrote the most thorough biography of Christopher Marlowe in 1942, The Tragicall History of Christopher Marlowe. Bakeless said:


The study of Marlowe's sources for Tamburlaine is of particular importance because it definitely reverses the view of his mind and character which has been generally accepted for three centuries. Detailed, minute, even trifling though the necessary investigation may be, it is rewarded in the end by a new understanding of the mind of a very great poet. It shows Marlowe as something more than an impetuous youth with a gift for poetry. It shows him as a careful writer who bases work of the purest poetic beauty on an elaborate and careful study of all available materials. See editorial page 11 which shows this to be the case for Tamburlaine.



State v Church

Concerning the seemingly absent Shakespeare from Stratford, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “It is the essence of poetry to spring like the rainbow daughter of Wonder from the invisible, to abolish the past, and refuse all history.” But it is not the essence of our greatest writer's poetry to refuse all history. History permeates the Shakespeare works, both classical and the current news of his day. The only history absent from the works is that of the Stratford Shackspere. The only explanation that makes common sense for his absence as a dramatist who seems to have had no personal relationship with other writers in London, is that the name is a pseudonym for someone else. One of the reasons there are so many varied interpretations of the Shakespeare plays is that we have no evidence that establishes the dramatist's relationship to his times. Shakespeare is a Rorschach blot upon which we can project our own ideas, whether they be of a particular era's morality or a group we belong to (Gay, Feminist, Freudian, Catholic, Protestant, etc.).

       We do have evidence of Christopher Marlowe's relationship to his times. Alex Jack has commented on the themes and content of several Shakespeare plays in the Marlowe context in his Hamlet by Christopher Marlowe. We see that these themes are a continuance of the earlier history plays we have been discussing, but now focused on the issues of State versus Church:


The Comedy of Errors: Parodies issues of conformity advanced by Elizabeth and Whitgift in the Parliament of 1593.

Titus Andronicus: Wicked critique of Tudor absolutism and repression of poets and artists.

King John: defends ancient liberties and the Magna Carta against the position of Crown and Church in Parliament of 1593.

1 and 2 Henry IV: Satirizes the Church's oppression of Puritans and recreates the Martin Marprelate rhetoric.

Twelfth Night: Satire on Whitgift and Elizabeth's attacks on Puritans, arising out of the Darrell case in 1598.

Henry V: Includes famous allusion to the Early of Essex broaching revolution against Tudor absolutism on his sword.

As You Like It: Multiple references to Marlowe, including his "death" in Deptford; allusions to suppression of religious dissent, Whtigift's bonfire of the books, and Nashe's persecution.

Hamlet: Penetrating critique of the unholy union of Church and Crown; sly attack on Whitgift's murderous usurpation of authority, and attempt to force Elizabeth to look into the window of her own soul.


King Henry VI


       F.E. Halliday was another Orthodox Shakespearean who saw the many stylistic connections between Marlowe and Shakespeare. He wrote, "Shakespeare, too, must have seen Tamburlaine at the Rose . . . . perhaps his reaction to Tamburlaine was the rewriting of part of a new history of Henry VI. His opening lines were certainly inspired by that play, and a finer tribute to Marlowe than anything written by the University Wits."

       Although Halliday attributed the style of 1 Henry VI's opening lines to Shakespeare imitating Marlowe, there is a great deal of scholarship going back to the eighteenth century that purports Marlowe had a strong hand in the King Henry VI plays about The War of the Roses, both Part 1 and the earlier versions of Parts 2 and 3 (otherwise known as The First Part of the Contention betwixt the two famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster, and The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of Yorke). The authorship of these anonymous works has been crucial to the problem of Shakespeare’s 'lost years’. This is why academia wants to ascribe these 1592 plays to the Stratford Shakespeare. There is no evidence that the Shakespeare name was attached to any plays or poems until two weeks after Christopher Marlowe "died" in 1593. 

       In 1929 Peter Alexander set the template for those in academia who have recently accepted these plays as the Stratford Shakespeare's.  The motive behind Alexander's thesis was the need to succeed at establishing the Stratford man's presence as a dramatist in London before 1592. The need to place Shakespeare into the role of dramatist only sprang up in the early twentieth century. Before that time, scholars were focused on identifying the Shakespeare works and attempting interpretations; they were not focused on the lack of hard evidence that the man from Stratford actually lived the life of the great dramatist. They assumed, as we would have assumed, that the Stratford Shakespeare was the dramatist 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 16th century England's politics, Marlowe's life and its relationship to the plays and sonnets, the suspicious Coroner's Report on Marlowe's death discovered in 1925, and, most importantly, the complete lack of any evidence that tells us the Stratford man wrote the Works. In other words, there was no reason to ask the Authorship Question. 

       In her "Three Plays of the Pembroke Players" Wraight sets us straight on the path for these plays academia wants to ascribe to Shakespeare as his first works. She contrasts her arguments for Marlowe's authorship with those of Peter Alexander, whose arguments set the foundation for academia’s view these plays were his first works. Where Alexander uses assumptions to present his argument, Wraight uses textual analysis of the plays. We will put a bit of Wraight's chapter here to illustrate this.



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 . . . 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.


       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 argued 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.

       Wraight tells us that Marlowe's two important biographers, John Bakeless and Frederick Boas, both support Brooke's evidence for Marlowe. She gives us Boas' summation of Brooke's thesis.



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. Brooke 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.


Wraight also gives us Dr. Gaw's statement of Brooke's thesis:


Gaw: 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.


Academia ignores the in-depth research that shows Marlowe to have been the chief architect of the apocryphal history plays it wants to ascribe to the Stratford Shakespeare as his early works. If academia allows Marlowe's hand as chief architect in these plays, their sharp dividing line between Shakespeare and Marlowe begins to diminish on two counts: Shakespeare the upholder of State values versus Marlowe the rebel, and Shakespeare having been a writer before Marlowe's "death".


Peter Alexander's Stratfordian Argument


       Wraight presents Alexander's argument for the Stratford Shakespeare as follows, and we will exercise our ability to spot fallacious argumentation while reading this list:


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 the previous 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]


Wraight says:


 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 . . . 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.


Watch the Walnut


What is most interesting about Peter Alexander is that after he'd denounced Tucker Brooke's detailed evidence with his assumptions in his 1929 Shakespeare's Henry VI and Richard III, he deleted Brooke's argument altogether in his 1964 Shakespeare. In the later book, as Wraight says, "He reiterated his arguments . . . but this time making no reference whatsoever to Tucker Brooke’s great work, harking back instead to the long outdated work of Edmund Malone, who was writing two centuries ago, between 1778 and 1790, on the same theme without, however, having made any thorough textual examination on which to base his opinions as Tucker Brooke had done."


The Marlowe Studies observes Wraight has shown us the very process in which history is distorted into myth. Like the game Chinese Rumors, assumptions by those who are passing the story on - the scholars - become a part of history when they are not questioned. 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.


On the subject of Alexander's "memorial reconstruction" hypotheses, Steven Urkowitz says in his essay, "Texts With Two Faces" (Henry VI: Critical Essays): 


The "memorial reconstruction" case for Henry VI, Parts 2 and 3 was argued most forcefully by Peter Alexander. Since it was published in 1929, Alexander's work has been cited as the primary basis for all subsequent editions. Despite its wide acceptance, Alexander's narrative about theatrical piracy has been questioned repeatedly [the first assumption, above], and new evidence shows that his arguments fail to warrant the credibility they have been accorded. But the imaginative appeal of his story as well as his daunting accumulation of inconsequential instances lends a continuing meretricious appeal, even in the face of strong counter-arguments. Shortly after Alexander's work on the texts was first published, Clayton Alvis Greer responded with an encyclopedic essay challenging the "memorial reconstruction" hypotheses of Peter Alexander and an ally, Madeleine Doran. Even though it appeared in PMLA, the foremost journal of the profession, Greer's arguments were and continue to be simply ignored by editors committed to memorial-reconstruction hypotheses.


Academia is conspicuously slow in accepting the authorship question. It refuses to bat an eye at the doubters and fiercely clings to the Marlowe Myth it has not only perpetuated, but embellished by basing its essays on the myth's assumptive foundations. College students are given Greenblatt's cotton candy fictional biography of the Stratford Shakespeare Will In The World to read as if it were historical scholarship, when in reality it is built upon the sandy ground of assumptions stacked precariously high as the Tower of Babel. 


All the connections academia desires to establish for the Stratford man we find only in Marlowe. Most importantly, we see that these history plays were likely begun by State prompting via Lord 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 Shakespeare wrote them for Lord Burghley, with no evidence that Burghley nor Southampton even knew him. Marlowe worked for Burghley. Sir Francis Walsingham and Lord Burghley made sure Marlowe got his Masters degree when rumors flew at Cambridge he’d gone over to the Catholic side. Probably at the prompting of Walsingham under whom Marlowe worked in secret intelligence, the Privy Council members, including Archbishop Whitgift, signed a petition to the Cambridge authorities saying Marlowe had done good service for the Queen. 


Should we agree after reading the arguments presented in The Marlowe Studies library that Marlowe wrote The Massacre at Paris, Edward the Second, Edward the Third, and the King Henry VI plays, we have the missing link for his development into "Shakespeare". The soundness of the argument may inspire some students to follow Marlowe's style developments chronologically (which now will include the apocryphal plays above), and explore his further stylistic development in the "Shakespeare" early plays:  The Comedy of Errors, Titus Andronicus, Taming of the Shrew, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Love's Labour's Lost.


It has been shown time and time again that Marlowe wrote these plays with the aid of other writers (that "team of writers" we've all heard about). If these history plays were prompted by his secret service employers Burghley and Walsingham, Marlowe would have been the chief plotter, alone in knowing these plays needed to contain what Walsingham and Burghley wanted to be shown about the Nation. That Marlowe was the chief plotter of these plays is the conclusion of Tucker Brooke, Allyson Gaw, A.D. Wraight, and J.M. Robertson.


For example, Dr. Gaw, who had nothing to do with the authorship debate and was not a Marlovian in this sense, says of 1 Henry VI:


The opening scene of 1 Henry VI is a studied preparation for the various elements in the ensuing play, combining with the outbreak of the Gloucester-Winchester dispute a vivid relation of the capture by the French of the heroic Talbot, together with an adroit hint foreshadowing the sorcery of Joan of Arc. It shows a realization of the power of detailed climax found, I believe, nowhere as in Marlowe among the pre-Shakespeareans.


The Marlowe Studies suggests that if these speculations are correct 1. The inception of the Shakespeare history plays would have begun as State "propaganda" under the wishes of Walsingham and Burghley, and 2. More power is given to the argument that Burghley, Thomas Walsingham (and probably Essex who was married to Frances Walsingham) were involved in the faking of Marlowe's death.





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