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Christopher Marlowe

Even more intrigue surrounds the candidacy of Christopher Marlowe (1564 – 1593) as the author of Shakespeare’s plays.  There’s no question he’s got the literary pedigree: with Tamburlaine the Great, he virtually invented the blank verse play, and it was followed by such classics as The Jew of Malta and Edward II.

Computer comparisons have apparently found word patterns and usage to be nearly identical in the work of the two playwrights.

But it’s Marlowe’s biography, including the speculation that he was a spy for the Crown, that’s probably fueled Marlowe’s Shakespeare authorship supporters.

Critics of the Marlowe theory point out that he died in a barroom brawl in 1593 – and that Shakespeare’s plays continued to appear for another 21 years until 1614.

But “Marlovians” say that only strengthens their case. Marlowe was about to be arrested – and possibly executed – and they say that he faked his own death, and lived on for years, possibly on the Continent, where he continued to write the plays attributed to Shakespeare. (The two playwrights, Marlovians point out, were born two months apart.)

The Marlowe theory was the subject of a PBS Frontline documentary, Much Ado About Something, in 2002:


NEXT: Oxfordians vs. Stratfordians

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By Paul Hechinger