Introduction: Christopher Marlowe the Craftsman: Lives, Stage, and Page

Sarah K. Scott and M. L. Stapleton

Like all great craftsmen, he worked by selection and exclusion on the mass of material ready to his hand; and his instinct in this double process is the proof of his originality.

In these words, the poet, critic, and aesthete John Addington Symonds (1840-93) showed his admiration for Christopher Marlowe as a “sculptor-poet,” a description that resonates into the twenty-first century.[1] We follow this tradition in viewing Marlowe as artifex, a maker of plays, poems, and mythologies that delight and move us, and contribute to the early modern conception of subjectivity. He is a true craftsman in the ways he conceives an idea, shapes and refines it, then remakes and remodels it, only to refashion it further in his writing process. This is true of the lives he imagines in his plays, such as the A- and B-texts of Doctor Faustus, the two parts of Tamburlaine, and The Jew of Malta. It is also an accurate statement about his lyric and narrative poetical voices, especially the translations of Lucan’s Pharsalia and Ovid’s Amores, as well as the pastoral “Come live with me” and the fragmentary epyllion Hero and Leander. His works are indeed all of a different kind, as Charles Lamb observed.[2] The controversies and facts regarding Marlowe’s life also continue to be crafted, as our biographical and scholarly contributors explain. Accordingly, our title, Christopher Marlowe the Craftsman: Lives, Stage, and Page, identifies the motifs that integrate our collection so that the reader can see that every essay herein is interrelated, giving expression to the idea of Marlowe as a working artist.

This volume appears during a period of renewed interest in Marlowe that began thirty years ago, one that has gathered momentum in subsequent early modern literary and historical studies.  The scant facts of the life have been reinterpreted in recent scholarly biographies: William Urry’s Christopher Marlowe and Canterbury (1988); Matthew Proser’s The Gift of Fire (1995); Lisa Hopkins’s traditional approach of locating the life in the works, Christopher Marlowe: A Literary Life (2000); Constance Kuriyama’s complementary return to primary documents, Christopher Marlowe: A Renaissance Life (2002). In the background are the landmark biographical studies published during the Second World War, F. S. Boas’s Christopher Marlowe: A Biographical and Critical Study (1940) and John Bakeless’s The Tragicall History of Christopher Marlowe (1942).[3]

The resurgence of interest in theater history and performance studies has informed a number of scholarly contributions, including Simon Shepherd’s study in cultural materialism, Marlowe and the Politics of Elizabethan Theatre (1988) and Douglas Cole’s Christopher Marlowe and the Renaissance of Tragedy (1995). John Parker’s The Aesthetics of Antichrist: From Christian Drama to Christopher Marlowe (2007) argues that the inherent theatricality of Christian ritual influenced and even sacralized the milieu of the commercial theater. Important predecessors to this critical tradition of the stage are David Bevington’s From Mankind to Marlowe (1962) and Joel Altman’s The Tudor Play of Mind (1978).

Numerous editions of Marlowe’s plays and poetry have been produced in recent years, representing one side of the page. The Oxford Complete Works edited by Roma Gill et al. (1987-98) remains the most ambitious attempt to stabilize the corpus in a multivolume old-spelling format. Several single-volume editions exist and are frequently reprinted, such as the Frank Romany and Robert Lindsey (2003) revision of J. B. Steane’s Penguin (1969), the Mark Thornton Burnett Dent (1999), or various twenty-first century reprints of the E. D. Pendry Everyman (1976, rev. 1983).  All owe a debt to their predecessors: Fredson Bowers’s two-volume text (1973, 1981), the six-volume Clifford Leech Revels (1955-78), and R. Case Methuen (1930-33) versions, and ultimately to the first truly modern edition by C. F. Tucker Brooke (1910).

Literary analysis of the Marlovian canon has also proliferated, demonstrating a number of traditional and poststructuralist approaches, the other side of the page. Roger Sales’s Christopher Marlowe (1991) and Clare Harraway’s Re-Citing Marlowe (2000), provide new historicist analysis of Elizabethan society to account for the brutal realism of the plays; Sara Munson Deats’s Sex, Gender, and Desire in the Plays of Christopher Marlowe (1997) combines feminism and close reading. Patrick Cheney’s Marlowe’s Counterfeit Profession (1997) contends that the author self-consciously followed an Ovidian cursus rather than the Spenserian precedent of adopting a Virgilian career.  Another important contribution, Robert A. Logan’s Shakespeare’s Marlowe (2007) reinvestigates the traditional topic of reading the two playwrights as mutually influential and emulous of one another. Mid-twentieth-century studies that sought to interrelate the entire Marlovian canon provided foundation for these newer works, such as Harry Levin’s The Overreacher (1952), Cole’s Suffering and Evil in the Plays of Christopher Marlowe (1962), and J. B. Steane’s Marlowe: A Critical Study (1964).

Christopher Marlowe the Craftsman builds upon this rich tradition of Marlowe scholarship, including early and recent collections. In the twentieth century, Leech’s A Collection of Critical Essays (1964) surveys the century’s contemporary scholarship and criticism; Brian Morris (1968) furnishes essays reflecting trends in British criticism by scholars who attended the Marlowe symposium at Langwith College, University of York; Kenneth Friedenreich, Roma Gill, and Constance B. Kuriyama, “A Poet and a Filthy Play-maker”(1988), offer twenty-four pieces addressing literary reception, dramaturgy, non-dramatic writings, and biography; Darryll Grantley and Peter Roberts (1996) present interdisciplinary approaches emphasizing the dynamics of gender, religion, politics, and geography as they examine relationships between the playwright’s life and plays; Emily Bartels’s Critical Essays (1997) provides new historicist and cultural materialist readings that interrogate early modern social, political, and religious conditions and difference; Paul Whitfield White’s Marlowe, History, and Sexuality (1998), features essays from the 1990s that address Marlowe’s life and writings in the historical moments of the 1580s and 1590s, governed primarily by studies of the interplay of early modern conceptions of bodies and sexuality; Richard Wilson (1999) presents a collection offering a range of theoretically informed readings, including those of new historicism, post-modern Marxism, queer theory, and feminist perspectives.

Three twenty-first century collections deserve special mention. Cheney’s Cambridge Companion (2006) features a comprehensive treatment of the biography, cultural milieu, and writings. Deats and Logan provide two volumes: Marlowe’s Empery (2002), which offers diverse theatrical, historical, and cultural approaches to the canon; Placing the Plays (2008) examines Marlowe’s range and complexity as dramatist concerning family and kinship, ethics and religion, and his relationship to Shakespeare.

Our volume observes current trends, resisting interpretive homogeneity to offer a cohesive, interdisciplinary approach. It features excellent emerging voices as well as some of the most respected and talented scholars and critics who specialize in the early modern period, several of whom are making their first contributions to Marlowe studies. Their essays provide readers with a variety of entry points that encourage the engagement of mutually illuminating lines of inquiry. They engage in new ways the controversies and complexities of their subject’s life and art as they demonstrate the interrelatedness of recent theater, literature, and cultural studies of sixteenth-century English literature.

Christopher Marlowe the Craftsman reflects the enthusiastic presentation of papers at academic conferences, the presence of Marlowe’s works on undergraduate and graduate syllabi, and the vigorous membership in the Marlowe Society of America. As such, this volume serves as the fifth collection of essays to be published under the auspices of the Marlowe Society of America, an organization devoted to Marlowe studies through its publications, conferences, and sessions at the annual convention of the Modern Language Association of America. Our enterprise also participates in the enthusiasm surrounding the reception of Doctor Faustus, Edward II, and Hero and Leander, reflected in the print medium of Stanley Wells’s Shakespeare and Company (2007) and Lisa Hopkins’s Christopher Marlowe, Renaissance Dramatist (2008), as well as studies of Marlowe in performance—and the many recent productions of the dramatic works.

Our contributors’ essays engage current trends in criticism as they simultaneously complement their previous work and future projects.  Our “Lives: Scholarship and Biography” section begins, fittingly, with Robert A. Logan’s wide-ranging analysis, “Marlowe Scholarship and Criticism: The Current Scene,” which focuses on the patterns and tendencies of twenty-first century studies in the areas of approaches and content, predictions about the future, and suggestions about useful directions that scholars might pursue.  Logan suggests that since ambiguity has been widely acknowledged as a major artistic device in the canon, it is time to reengage in close reading of the texts, while taking into account the idea of Marlowe as a professional strategist highly attuned to the effects of his dramaturgical effects and poetics.  He identifies audience reception as another potentially fruitful area of study, as initiated by Alfred Harbage and developed extensively by Charles Whitney and Ruth Lunney.[4Logan also argues that newer scholars could study further the relationships between Marlowe’s works and those of his contemporaries as well as investigate issues pertaining to the fields of theater and stage history.  He has published many essays, book chapters, and reviews on Marlowe in addition to his book Shakespeare’s Marlowe (2007), the most extensive treatment to date concerning the intertextuality of the two writers, i.e., Hero and Leander and Venus and Adonis, The Jew of Malta and The Merchant of Venice, Edward II and Richard II, Tamburlaine and Henry V, Faustus and Macbeth, and Dido, Queene of Carthage and Antony and Cleopatra.  Logan distinguishes between “theatrical” and “literary practices” as part of his analysis in explaining the dramatist’s “unmistakable influence” on Shakespeare, readily apparent from his “keen sense of emulation.”[5]

Three biographical essays follow, each speculating on a different aspect of Marlowe’s life.  First, Richard F. Hardin’s meditation, “Marlowe Thinking Globally,” proceeds on the assumption that early modern England witnessed a form of globalization that is characterized by the erosion of distance and finds that Marlowe was better positioned than most of his contemporaries to respond to it.  The playwright’s home, Canterbury, international and polyglot as a center of international Christianity from the time of Augustine’s settlement in the sixth century, received Protestant refugees fleeing from the continent to avoid Spanish and French persecution on an especially large scale beginning in the 1570s.  His university, Cambridge, exhibited a similarly visible Continental scholarly community and environment, which must have contributed further to his developing sense of the larger world.  The anti-ethnocentrism discernible in Marlowe’s work, then, must be an effect of these early shaping influences.  Hardin’s essay thus reflects an abiding interest in the controversies arising from the subject of religious beliefs and themes in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature.  In Civil Idolatry (1992), a study that analyzes texts that critique the cult of monarchy in light of the general Christian injunction against idolatry, he studies the tendency of Shakespeare, Spenser, and Milton to “subvert . . . the ‘mischievous sentiment’ of religion whereby monarchy used its sacred role to encroach upon traditional liberties,” one that Marlowe also clearly demonstrates.[6]

Next, J. A. Downie’s “Reviewing What We Think We Know about Christopher Marlowe” contends that recent accounts of Marlowe such as Park Honan’s Christopher Marlowe: Poet & Spy (2005) often fail to note that few facts are known about his life and that no evidence before 1593 attributes any specific play to him. A review of the documentary evidence is surely in order, as is the separate matter of returning to a consideration how the plays might have been represented on an Elizabethan stage.  Downie has previously published two essays considering problems raised by fancifully speculative biographical studies. He strongly disputes the approach favored by Charles Nicholl’s The Reckoning (1992) in “Marlowe: Facts and Fictions” and argues against what he calls other “Circular arguments of considerable ingenuity” in “Marlowe, May 1593, and the ‘Must Have’ Theory of Biography.”[7 Third, Rosalind Barber’s “Was Marlowe a Violent Man?” builds on arguments such as Downie’s, as well as those of Stephen Orgel, Constance Kuriyama, and Lukas Erne, that the reception of Marlowe has been “marred by a vicious hermeneutic circle” that reads his plays’ protagonists biographically so that “the mythographic creature thus constructed informs the criticism of his plays.”[8] The result of such mythmaking, she argues, is that he has been completely misconstrued as a hopelessly violent young man whose death was a kind of contrapasso, and that this construction certainly needs interrogation.

Section II, “Stage: Theater, Dramaturgy,” features four essays engaged with various aspects of performance germane to Marlowe studies.  Alan C. Dessen’s “Residual Allegory in Edward II” studies the concept of this literary form as it applies to the special nature of the drama.  Marlowe’s use of allegory differs sharply from the written, “poetical” variety one finds in texts such as The Faerie Queene.  In the late moral plays, obvious abstractions named in speech prefixes become considerably less abstract when translated into theatrical performances.  Knowledge and Good Deeds must be given literal human form by actors to be understood by an audience watching Everyman, just as social types in Jonson’s comedies (e.g., a scolding wife, a trickster) act out their concepts but are also individuals with peculiarly human traits. Dessen finds that Marlowe’s use of the conventions of morality plays for ironic and even sardonic effect participates in a dramatic milieu that included works of a kindred sensibility, such as Greene’s Friar Bacon, Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy, Shakespeare’s first tetralogy, and Arden of Faversham.  He argues that Marlowe follows these patterns, avoiding the didactic while retaining residual elements of allegorical technique, especially in his history play: the Bishop who fetches Edward’s crown in 5.1; the mysterious Champion who appears at the end of 5.4; and the staging of Kent’s exit from the same scene.  He has analyzed the influence of these earlier models on Elizabethan drama throughout his career: Jonson’s Moral Comedy (1971), on Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair; and Shakespeare and the Late Moral Plays, concerning Richard III, 1 Henry IV, and All’s Well That Ends Well.  A theme in his work is the exploration and development of the concept of “theatrical vocabulary” to expand the sense of what playwrights, players, and audiences shared in their collective experience in the theater. In reading one of the early printed texts of a Shakespeare play, we enter into the middle of a conversation—a discourse in a language we only partly understand—between a dramatist and his actor colleagues, a halfway stage that was completed in a performance now lost to us. Although we will never reconstitute that performance, we may be able to recover elements of that vocabulary and hence better understand that conversation.  To recover that lost vocabulary, however, requires a fresh, uncompromised look at the only plentiful evidence, the extant scripts.[9]

The following three studies in this section concern themselves with intertextuality and performance.  Like Dessen’s essay, Meredith Skura’s “What Shakespeare Did to Marlowe in Private: Dido, Faustus, and Bottom,” also concerns itself with a traditional topic, “influence,” in a novel way.  Here, Skura discusses new intersections between the two playwrights, part of her larger project on Shakespeare’s sources.  Marlowe’s one known work for the private stage, The Tragedy of Dido, a play about love written for boy actors in the mid 1580s and published in 1594, influenced its complementary successor in the public theater, Antony and Cleopatra, as well as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, also performed, initially, for a coterie audience.  Shakespeare obviously revises Marlowe in these instances, a tendency Skura contends that we can see in the early 1590s, since Love’s Labour’s Lost transforms the bloody soldiers and scheming ladies of The Massacre at Paris into lovers imbued with elegance (as well as logorrhea).  It is even possible that Doctor Faustus, also available in 1594 in a revival by Marlowe’s company, the Admiral’s Men, informed the conception of the most vocal mechanical, Bottom.  With similar care and insight, Skura’s Shakespeare the Actor and the Purposes of Playing (1993) studies “Shakespeare’s texts in the context of performance conditions and the Elizabethan actor’s subculture.”  It attends to textual patterns, the concept of “motivated language” from psychoanalysis as it relates to playing to an audience, and the reconstruction of the early modern English player’s experience by theater historians.[10Sarah K. Scott’s “The Jew of Malta and the Development of City Comedy: ‘The Mean Passage of a History’” analyzes a much-debated work from a new perspective: that Barabas’s exaggerated behavior and the semi-farcical plot reflect the developing dramatic genre of city comedy that would be so prominent on the English stage in the first three decades of the seventeenth century. It proposes a reading that attempts to reflect the views of the theatergoers and literary culture of early modern London, rather than those of some twentieth-century critics who interpret the play as a prodigious travesty or an outrage.  The essay also examines in some detail the performance history of the text, its reception by actors and directors, and the numerous asides that Barabas uses for comic effect, as reflected in the native English dramatic tradition. The antagonistic protagonist that Marlowe presents was in some respects nothing new, no more outrageous in the 1590’s than in the 1630’s, when The Jew of Malta was first printed in quarto, and performed at Whitehall for the theater-loving monarchs Charles I and Henrietta Maria.[11]  Her essay complements and expands her earlier work on Middleton, Dekker, and Marlowe, as well as future projects involving Marston and his milieu.[12]

Ruth Lunney’s “Speaking to the Audience: Direct Address in the Plays of Marlowe and his Contemporaries” reminds us that direct address was always part of the theatrical experience for sixteenth-century playgoers, fundamental to the ways that stories were told and how spectators made sense of the action.  In the transitional years between 1585 and 1595, dramatists experimented with different modes of direct address, but none more so than Marlowe, whose plays transformed the soliloquy and liberated the aside, therefore offering new ways for actors to speak to the audience so that direct address could better engage with the action on stage. This study analyzes Marlowe’s innovations in this area and their relation to plays from the 1560s to the mid 1590s. The Jew of Malta, Lunney argues, was revolutionary in this aspect, especially its reworking of the conventional opening monologue of the Vice figure from the moral plays in Machiavil’s Prologue and Barabas’s speeches in the counting house and slave market. Gaveston deploys the same rhetorical structure in Edward II, as does Guise in The Massacre of Paris. Surely Gloucester partakes of the same convention in his notorious opening soliloquy in Richard III. In essence, such antagonists or alienated witnesses frame the action for the audience, a feature of later plays such as Othello. Lunney’s essay consciously emanates from her work in Marlowe and the Popular Tradition: Innovation in the English Drama before 1595 (2002), which reassesses Marlowe in his contemporary context as a corrective to Shakespeare-centered approaches. In seeking to avoid “the treadmill of commonplaces” about the playwright, “the subverter, the conduit of ambivalence—with occasional recourse to the orthodox moralist or Erasmian riddler,” she examines the plays’ “engagement with—and challenge to—the theatrical inheritance of their first audiences,” attempting to “measure the experiences they construct for their spectators against those afforded by other ‘popular’” drama of the period.[13] All four of these essays are linked by the multifaceted idea of performance that is related to the earlier work of Dessen and Lunney as well to other contributions to the field by Bevington, Cole, and Parker.

In our third part, “Page: Texts and Interpretations,” the first subsection, “Marlowe the Ovidian,” begins with Stephen Booth’s “On the Eventfulness of Hero and Leander,” a spirited essay that attends closely to issues Ovidian and otherwise that engages the formalist new critic as well as the less traditional, “deconstructive” reader of poetry. He examines the ways that patterns of sound within a line inform, reinforce, or cut against meaning, “intended” or otherwise. This piece follows a similar pattern in Booth’s other work, especially in his edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, which seeks to recapture and to identify “what a Renaissance reader would have thought as he moved from line to line,” or “the physics by which we get” to the “sublime” as we attempt to comprehend the text before us, because “A literary effect need not be special to be.”[14] M. L. Stapleton’s “Marlowe’s First Ovid: Certaine of Ovids Elegies” examines the fragmentary version of the translation of the Amores that was interdicted as part of the Bishops’ Ban of 1599. He argues that the compiler chose the ten poems carefully in order to complement the preceding work in the text, John Davies’s Epigrammes, and that the result is a coherent work of art.[15] Robert Darcy’s “Marston and Marlowe’s Cursus” investigates Marston’s modeling of his literary career on Marlowe’s, especially the arrangement of his two-poem text, The Metamorphosis of Pigmalions Image and Certaine Satires.  He contends that the importance of the latter genre, especially the early modern variety, has been severely underestimated in standard literary histories; that Shakespeare has been deployed in these accounts to neutralize the political and social character of the form; and that Marlowe’s career and development actually served as the organizing principle for poetical satirists in the 1590s.  This essay informs two of Darcy’s major projects.  One is a collection of sixteenth-century verse satire that stresses the importance of Marlowe and Marston in this milieu. The other is a book-length study, “Misanthropoetics,” that includes chapters on Timon of Athens and Cartesian subjectivity; the economics of family in The Merchant of Venice and Pericles; the paradoxes of love / hate, spirituality / secularism, friendship / rivalry, and history / allegory in Spenser’s narrative of Timias in The Faerie Queene; the contradiction of gender and language in Jonson’s Epicoene; and the vexed fantasy of poetic retreat, both erotic and satirical, in Marston’s Pigmalion and Certaine Satires.[16]

The fourth contribution to this section of essays is Dympna Callaghan’s “Marlowe’s Last Poem,” which speculates on an elegy of disputed authorship by arguing that Francis Meres did not think that the sweet and witty soul of Ovid transmigrated to the works of the eminently Latinate Marlowe, in spite of his translation of the Amores and his composition of the Ovidian Hero and Leander. Meres instead credits honey-tongued Shakespeare, who seems to have imbibed his Ovid from Arthur Golding’s translation of the Metamorphoses (1567). Although in a later section of the Palladis Tamia he notes Marlowe’s use of the fifth-century Alexandrian poet Musaeus, Meres ignores his Ovidianism entirely and devotes his energy to the gleeful disparagement of the poet and playwright’s life. This discrepancy prompts an obvious question: how Ovidian was Marlowe? The study, informed by recent biographical criticism, explores his relation to Latin shapes and subtlety and, explicitly, the precise expression of his aesthetic. It offers a fresh, innovative perspective on a much-studied issue just as she does in previous work, including Shakespeare without Women and her companion guide to the Sonnets. On the narrator and addressees in Shakespeare’s sequence, she says, “We could not pick out these people from a police line-up, and yet we have intimate knowledge of the rapture and turbulence they have provoked within the emotional and psychic life of the poet.”[17]

Our final section, “Marlowe’s Reach,” concerns diverse topics such as the geography of the psyche, the varieties of religious experience, and the nature of collaborations, each complementing the other, and all related to the playwright.  Brett Foster’s “Hell is Discovered: The Roman Destination of Doctor Faustus” carefully considers the complex symbolic, cultural, and geopolitical resonances of the Eternal City and their effects on the characterization and narrative in Doctor Faustus. Foster counters traditional critical assessments and finds that the journey, the confrontation with the Pope, and other incidents are more than comic filler: they exemplify Mephistopheles’s pressures on Marlowe’s protagonist and mark his damnation in a surprisingly poignant way.  The play’s reliance on the city’s many infernal connotations, garnered from the popular Protestant imagination and religious polemic, make the city the perfect first stop on Faustus’s doomed itinerary.  Rome is not hell; instead, hell comes to Rome in the persons of Faustus and Mephistopheles.  This essay complements Foster’s recent article on Tudor travel narratives by Robert Langton, Andrew Boorde, William Thomas, and Thomas Hoby. It discusses their “nuanced, individualized reactions” to the very locus of Roman Catholicism that defy the stereotype of the provincial, hostile English traveler and contain “surprising praise” of the city, necessarily complicated by the Reformation and its attendant nationalism.[18] Carolyn Scott demonstrates that a work seemingly devoid of Christianity is, like Faustus, fraught with such issues. In “Consuming Sorrow: Conversion and Consumption in Tamburlaine: Part One,” she examines the Eucharistic motifs in the play as well as its Pauline leanings to find that the drama features the convergence of power and pity at its culmination. As the armies of Tamburlaine and the Soldan move toward confrontation, the fates of Bajazath and Zabina become entwined with those of Zenocrate and the virgins of Damascus. The banquet that precedes the battle sets up a series of images of eating and consumption that illuminate the deaths that follow. Scott contends that, like St. Paul, the hero finds on the road to Damascus an opportunity for conversion and resolves the threat of the “banquet . . . as ominous / as Progne’s” (4.4.23-24) and the fear “that so consumes Zenocrate” (5.2.91). Tamburlaine’s power as a consumer is redirected, enabling him to display mercy, solemnize his marriage, and confirm his triumph.

Finally, in “Fractional Faustus: Edward Alleyn’s Part in the Printing of the A-Text,” Paul Menzer analyzes the textual indeterminacy of Marlowe’s most performed and studied drama by exploring the transition and discrepancies between manuscript and print. Modern editing has often obscured the collaborative nature of early modern plays, especially the scribal preparation of parts. Discrete collaborative efforts could also produce unwittingly repetitive cues, particularly once physically divergent matter in the “complete” script becomes materially proximate “in part.” Menzer speculates that if this part were therefore available either to the compositors who prepared the A-text of Faustus, or to a scribe who prepared an intermediary manuscript from which those compositors worked, it would suggest that the long early scene between Faustus and Mephistopheles is not in fact interrupted by a comic scene or, as the B-text seems mistakenly to assume, a chorus.  Rather, since it was materially consecutive in Edward Alleyn’s part, it was assumed to be theatrically consecutive on stage. “Fractional Faustus” is the first result of a study that considers the role that parts played in the mobility of texts both among theatrical companies, especially when they disbanded and reconfigured themselves, and between those companies and the print houses of early modern London. It is a continuation of his interest in theater history, as evidenced, for example, by the essay “The Tragedians of the City?,” which explores the claim made by the title-page of the Hamlet first quarto that it was first performed in the City of London.[19] The essays in this section react in their own way to the critical tradition, from Levin and Steane to Altman, Cheney, and Harraway.

While organized according to our tripartite structure, these essays necessarily overlap with one another in the categories of lives, stage, and page, signaling their interdependent nature regarding questions of authorship, theater and performance history, and interpretive issues within the works themselves. They inquire into the continuing dispute regarding the facts of Marlowe’s life, the textual difficulties that emerge from the staging of his plays, the critical investigations arising from analyses of individual works, and their relationship to those of his contemporaries. In so doing, our contributors reflect the flourishing state of Marlowe studies as they shape the twenty-first century conception of the poet and playwright as craftsman.


1. See Shakespeare’s Predecessors in the English Drama (London: Smith, Elder, 1900), 469 and 484, respectively. He translated Cellini’s Autobiography (1887), published the landmark study, Renaissance in Italy, in seven volumes (1875-86), and is also known for one of the first major defenses of homosexuality in English, A Problem in Modern Ethics: Being an Inquiry into the Phenomenon of Sexual Inversion, Addressed Especially to Medical Psychologists and Jurists (1891). His sonnet sequence, L’Amour de l’impossible (1882), takes the same subject as a theme, as does his translation of Michelangelo’s sonnets to Tommaso de Cavalieri (1878). His “General Introduction: On the Drama of Elizabeth and James Considered as the Main Product of the Renaissance in England,” is included in the Marlowe volume of the New Mermaid Series, the first, The Best Plays of the Old Dramatists: Christopher Marlowe, ed. Havelock Ellis (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1893), vii-xxvii.

2.As paraphrased by F. P. Wilson, who attributes it to Henry Crabb Robinson (1775-1867), the chronicler of nineteenth-century literary talent. See Marlowe and the Early Shakespeare: The Clark Lectures, Trinity College, Cambridge, 1951 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953), 30.

3.See the Bibliography for the publishers and dates of the books mentioned in this paragraph and the three succeeding it.

4.See Harbage, Annals of English Drama, 975-1700, 3rd. ed., rev. ed. Sylvia Stoler Wagonheim (London: Routledge, 1989); Whitney, “Out of Service and in the Playhouse: Richard Norwood, Youth in Transition and Early Response to Dr. Faustus,” Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 12 (2000): 166-89, and Early Responses to Renaissance Drama (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006); Lunney, Marlowe and the Popular Tradition: Innovation in the English Drama before 1595 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002).

5.For Logan, “‘theatrical practices,’” are “the strategies that Shakespeare devised to give the production of his plays maximum effectiveness, whether measured pragmatically, by the plays’ degree of commercial success, or aesthetically, by such ingredients as conflict and tension, spectacles (visual and verbal), and climactic moments. ‘Literary practices’ include the shaping of a specific intellectual and emotional content in conjunction with the manipulation of the play’s style, structure, and characterizations.” See Shakespeare’s Marlowe: The Influence of Christopher Marlowe on Shakespeare’s Artistry (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007), 2 and 8.

6. See Civil Idolatry: Desacralizing and Monarchy in Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton (Newark DE: University of Delaware Press, 1992), 30.

7.For the first essay, see Constructing Christopher Marlowe, eds. J. A. Downie and J.T. Parnell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 13-29; for the second, see Review of English Studies n.s. 58 (2007): 245-67. For the quotation, see “Marlowe: Facts and Fictions,” 16.

8.See Orgel’s chapter “Tobacco and Boys” in his The Authentic Shakespeare and Other Problems of the Early Modern Stage (New York: Routledge, 2002), 211-29; for Kuriyama, see Christopher Marlowe: A Renaissance Life (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002); for Erne, see “Biography, Mythography, and Criticism: The Life and Works of Christopher Marlowe,” Modern Philology 103 (2005): 47, 28; 28-50.

9.Recovering Shakespeares Theatrical Vocabulary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 5-6.

10.(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), xi.

11.The famous tragedy of the rich Iew of Malta As it was playd before the King and Queene, in his Majesties theatre at White-hall, by her Majesties Servants at the Cock-pit. Written by Christopher Marlo. (London: Printed by I[ohn] B[eale] for Nicholas Vavasour, 1633).

12.Scott analyzes city comedy as an emerging genre in “The Empress of Babylon’s ‘carbuncles and rich stones’: The Metaphorizing of the Pox in Thomas Dekker’s The Whore of Babylon,” Early Theatre 7 (2004): 67-95 and “‘Sell[ing] your selues away’: Pathologizing and Gendering the Socio-Economic in The Honest Whore: Part I,” Research Opportunities in Medieval and Renaissance Drama 44 (2006): 1-22.

13.See Marlowe and the Popular Tradition, 2, 7.

14.Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Edited, with Analytic Commentary (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), ix, x, xi, respectively.

15.Compare Stapleton’s “‘After that I loathe, I runne’: Shakespeare’s Sonnets 127-54 and Marlowe’s All Ovids Elegies,” the final chapter in Harmful Eloquence: Ovid’s Amores from Antiquity to Shakespeare (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996), 133-53.

16.See also his “Shakespeare’s Empty Plot: The Epicenotaph in Timon of Athens,” Renaissance Drama n.s. 33 (2004): 159-80; “Freeing Daughters on Open Markets: The Incest Clause in The Merchant of Venice,” in Money and the Age of Shakespeare, ed. Linda Woodbridge (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 189-200, and “‘Under my hands . . . a double duty’: Printing and Pressing Marlowe’s Hero and Leander,” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 2.2 (2002): 26-56.

17.See Shakespeare’s Sonnets (New York: Wiley-Blackwell, 2007), 4.  Shakespeare without Women (London: Routledge, 1999) explores “the specifically political dimension of the dense philosophical problems posed by dramatic representation” (2).

18.See “‘The Goodliest Place in the World’: Early Tudor Reactions to Papal Rome,” in The Sacred and Profane in English Renaissance Literature, ed. Mary A. Papazian (Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 2008), 28; 27-56.

19.“The Tragedians of the City?” Q1 Hamlet and the Settlements of the 1590’s,” Shakespeare Quarterly 57 (2006): 162-82.