The Marlowe Studies Entry: April 28, 2011



Watch the Walnut Again


In the Introduction to Shakespeare's Edward III, Eric Sams states with utmost assurance that the reason the Stratford Shakespeare wrote Edward III was because he'd had so much success with 1 Henry VI, which Sams is assuming from the start Shakespeare wrote. He gives no evidence for his asservation, instead, he quotes Thomas Nashe speaking of 1 Henry VI from Pierce Penniless, 1592, as if this were evidence, even though the Nashe quote he uses has nothing to do with the authorship of 1 Henry VI.

Nashe: How would it haue ioyed braue Talbot (the terror of the French) to thinke that after he had lyne two hundred yeares in his Tombe, hee should triumphe again on the Stage and haue his bones newe embalmed with the teares of ten thousand spectators at least (at seuerall times), who, in the Tragedian that represents his person, imagine they behold him fresh bleeding.

What university students will not know when they read Sams' Introduction, is that he ignored Nashe's statement from the same book, Pierce Penniless, that does tell us who wrote the play: "The Cobler’s Crowe, for crying Ave Caesar bee more esteemed than rater birds that have warbled sweeter notes unrewarded."

Fallacious arguments are often structured using rhetorical patterns that obscure the logical argument, making fallacies more difficult to diagnose. These rhetorical patterns are usually coupled with words that unconsciously trigger within the reader the sound of authority. After Sams gives us Nashe's irrelevant quote, he says, “Prima facie, this describes an early version of Shakespeare’s 1 Henry VI, written a few years earlier. There was no need to specify its author; Nashe’s readers would already know . . . " On the contrary, it is the ignored quote (above) that would have told Nashe's readers who the play's author was. "Cobler" = Marlowe, the son of a Canterbury cobbler, "Crowe" = actor, Edward Alleyn, "Ave Caesar" = Alleyn's line in Edward III.

On the face of Nashe's mere reference to 1 Henry VI which mentioned no author, Sams deduced that Stratford Shakespeare also wrote Edward III. In academic philosophy prima facie denotes evidence that – unless rebutted – would be sufficient to prove a particular proposition or fact. Did Sams give us this evidence prima facie? The Marlowe Studies has already presented a most fitting rebuttal in the sequence of Greene and Nashe allusions to Marlowe and Alleyn from 1588-1592, where we find more direct prima facie evidence from Nashe concerning Edward IIIs authorship than the one Sams used.

Why has Oxford and Cambridge not acknowledged the remarkable documentary evidence of these allusions to the writer of Edward III? It is very difficult obtaining documented proof for the apocryphal plays. One would think this would be a treasure find in literary circles.

Marlowe Studies Entry: April 29, 2011



Sams' avoidance of Greene's and Nashe's allusions pointing to Marlowe's authorship, his preference for an irrelevant Nashe quote, is highly suspect. For one thing, we know Sams knows about Nashe's other allusion that points to Marlowe's authorship because the quote he used was from the same book, Pierce Penniless. One has to ask if this is not the same kind of evidentiary deletion we find in Peter Alexander's 1964 book Shakespeare, where he took out Tucker Brooke's contrary arguments that he'd put into his earlier 1929 Shakespeare's Henry VI and Richard III.

But there is more. Sams uses another piece of indirect evidence to back up his intuition Alleyn probably played the role of Edward III:

“. . . a play so dominated by one kingly larger-than-life figure would be a natural starring vehicle wherein the great actor Edward Alleyn could ride in triumph through the City playhouses, following his famous success in the title role of Marlowe’s Tamburlaine. Further, according to an analyst of Tudor casting and acting records, 'Edward III was built on the same formula as the plays for the Admiral’s Men about 1589 . . . ' " Sams deduces that if this is true, then, " . . . a first version of Edward III was written c. 1589 for the Admiral’s Men, with their star actor-manager Alleyn in the name part.”

If Sams had been able to use Nashe's and Greene's allusions, he would have known Alleyn did not play the part of King Edward, he played the part of the Black Prince who gave the cry of "Ave Caesar" made in the "kings Chamber". The Marlowe Studies suggests that if Sams and the others who want to attribute this play to the Stratford Shakespeare took Greene's and Nashe's allusions seriously, Marlowe "the cobler" would have to come along for the ride as author of Edward III. This might be the reason they ignore the allusions, the same way they ignore the detailed counter-evidence that shows Alexander's "memorial reconstruction" hypothesis to be unsound. If academia accepted the counter-evidence, Marlowe would, again, come along for the ride as the chief architect of the King Henry VI trilogy.

It bears repeating that the study of scholarship around Edward III and the King Henry VI trilogy is vitally important because there is so much research pointing to Marlowe's authorship of these plays. When we see Marlowe taking part in a series of "national" history plays, another aspect of the Marlowe Myth cracks -that of the self-absorbed writer projecting his desires into characters such as Tamburlaine, Dr. Faustus, and Barabas in The Jew of Malta, and that his writing was all bombast and rant, and that he "didn't write like Shakespeare". These plays, with Marlowe' Edward II pointing the way, establishes the vital link between his early dramas and the later works under his pseudonym Shakespeare.

The establishment of this link not only contains Marlowe's developing hand, it contains by its absence, no writing by the Stratford Shakespeare until the William Shakespeare name was placed on the long poem Venus and Adonis two weeks after Marlowe "died". While many in academia desire to ascribe these plays to Shakespeare to fill in his "lost years" they depend upon our willing suspension of disbelief for their meatless theorizing which, at every turn, deletes the validity of both external and strong internal evidence identifying these plays as Marlowe’s.

Wraight says, "Today the orthodox school attributes 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 not by refuting Brooke’s irrefutable arguments, but by misrepresenting them and by-passing them."

Sam's foundational evidence is the assumption the Stratford Shakespeare wrote Edward III because of his success with 1 Henry VI. Again, the deepest studies of 1 Henry V1 by C.F. Tucker Brooke, Allsion Gaw, and A.D. Wraight show that Marlowe was the chief writer of that play. Gaw’s work represents the most thorough textual assessment of 1 Henry VI ever conducted, and highlights Edward Alleyn’s close involvement in a theatrical partnership with Christopher Marlowe for the original production of 1 Henry VI. As Wraight says, Gaw's book has, "Undoubted revolutionary implications for Shakespearean and Marlovian studies.” You can read Wraight's synopsis of C.F. Tucker Brooke's argument for Marlowe's authorship of the Henry VI trilogy, and Marlowe's two esteemed biographers (John Bakeless' and Frederick Boas') agreement with it here.

In his Christopher Marlowe, Frederick Boas gives a brief review of Brooke's arguments (from Wraight's Christopher Marlowe and Edward Alleyn):

"The literary quality of The Contention and The True Tragedy [Parts 2 and 3 of King Henry VI], 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 Queen Isabell, Mortimer, and Prince Edward in 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 parallels in Marlowe’s accepted plays or which are repeated in the quartos themselves. Such parallelism and repetition are both characteristic of Marllowe’s technique. Brooke gave a list of twenty-eight parallels with plays in the recongnized 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."

Dr. Gaw also speaks of Brooke's work, saying, "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."

Although we have Wraight's book Christopher Marlowe and Edward Alleyn in the library, The Marlowe Studies has just put a typed version of her chapter on Marlowe's authorship of King Henry VI Parts 2 and 3 into the library for those of you who find this format easier to read, and for those of you who would like to copy and paste her information as quotes into your essays or books. This chapter will give the reader further insight into Alexander's method of argument: Three Plays of the Pembroke Players. You will find Wraight's research detailed and well documented. She has much to teach us of theatre life in Marlowe's time.

Marlowe Studies Entry: May 4, 2011



Flirty fallacious arguments cannot woo us when it comes to stylometrics. A writer’s literary style is as unique as his fingerprint. This is exceptionally true in writers of great genius. Marlowe developed the dramatic blank verse form that Shakespeare uses. Genius creates its own methods, genius takes leaps in its own evolution. Writing under the pseudonym Shakespeare, Marlowe would have continued to refine this blank verse form. We can trace this genius at work in the writings under Marlowe’s name pre 1593. Sidney and even Chaucer cannot compare to what Christopher Marlowe did at at the young age of 21 when he wrote his first stage success Tamburlaine. Sidney, Spencer, Milton were not of this kind of genius. Are we to believe that two Shakespeare’s were born in the same year of 1564?

From Alex Jack's Literary Similarities Between Marlowe and Shakespeare:

On purely stylistic grounds, nearly half of the Shakespearean works have been attributed in whole or part to Marlowe by critics who accept Marlowe’s death in 1593. Edmund Malone, the founder of modern Shakespeare studies, credited Marlowe with Titus Andronicus, as did William Hazlitt and F. C. Fleay [and J.M. Robertson]. Alexander Dyce, a founder of the Shakespeare Society in London, observed, “There is a strong suspicion that [Henry VI, Parts I, II, and III] are wholly by Marlowe.” Samuel S. Ashbaugh stated, “Shakespeare . . . must have taken a Richard III, written by Marlowe but now lost, and revised it into the Richard III subsequently ascribed to him by the pirate publishers. . . . There is far more of Marlowe than of Shakespeare in Richard III.” Jane Lee concurred, “Richard III is full of . . . Marlowe’s soul and spirit.” Richard II, King John, and other plays have also been credited to Marlowe.

Dr. Thomas Mendenhall, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the father of stylometrics, or the scientific study of literature, developed a scientific method to determine the authorship of anonymous or disputed writings. He found that every author has a unique “literary fingerprint” that characterizes their work. After calculating and plotting the frequency of words of various lengths (two-letter, three-letter, and so on) in a given work, he constructed a graph that displays the writer’s unique ratio-curve. In researching Elizabethan playwrights, Dr. Mendenhall discovered that Shakespeare’s and Marlowe’s curves matched perfectly. “Christopher Marlowe agrees with Shakespeare as well as Shakespeare agrees with himself,” he declared in astonishment because he accepted the view that Marlowe had died at an early age (see Thomas Mendenhall, “A Mechanical Solution for a Literary Problem,” Popular Science Monthly 60.7(1901):97–105). In a recent computerized study, Peter Farey expanded upon Mendenhall’s research and found that authors may vary over time and between genres and that the two canons were consistent. See Peter Farey's, “Stylometrics: Mendenhall’s Graphs Revisited”.

For those interested in stylometric studies of Shakesepeare/Marlowe authorship, Alex Jack has listed several fairly recent ones:

1. In a recent essay on “Marlowe’s Texts and Authorship,” Laurie E. Maguire, a scholar at Oxford University, notes that recent linguistic studies have presented compelling evidence that “Marlowe’s hand appears in several Shakespearean texts,” including the Henry VI plays, Titus Andronicus, Edward III, and Henry V (see “Marlovian Texts and Authorship,” in The Cambridge Companion to Marlowe, ed. Patrick Cheney, Cambridge UP, 2004).

2. For Marlowe’s hand in specific Shakespearean plays, see British statistician T. V. N. Merrimam, “Neural Computation in Stylometry II: An Application to the Works of Shakespeare and Marlowe,” Literary and Linguistic Computing 9 (1994):1–6; “Marlowe’s Hand in Edward III,” Literary and Linguistic Computing 8.2 (1993):59–72; “Heterogeneous Authorship in Early Shakespeare and the Problem of Henry VI,” Literary and Linguistic Computing 13.1 (April 1998).

3. In Rival Playwrights: Marlowe, Jonson, Shakespeare  (Columbia UP, 1991), James Shapiro, professor of Shakespearean studies at Columbia University, concludes “Shakespeare seems to be very much aware of what Marlowe is up to and chooses to plot a parallel course, virtually stalking his rival,” especially in the first half of the Shakespearean canon leading up to Hamlet. He characterizes Henry V, as Tamburlaine, Part III.

4. Louis Ule, who completed the first empirical studies of the entire canons, found their overlap so close as to be indistinguishable (see A Concordance to the Works of Christopher Marlowe, Georg Olms, 1979 and A Concordance to the Shakespeare Apocrypha, Georg Olms, 1987).

5. John Baker concluded that the richness of Marlowe’s vocabulary easily encompassed Shakespeare’s and that many of their works were indistinguishable (Oxford’s Literary and Linguistic Computing 3.1, 1987).


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