MARLOWE, Christopher

Born: February 6, 1564, in Canterbury, England

Died: May 30, 1593, in Deptford, England

Christopher Marlowe was an English poet and playwright. Very little is known with certainty about his life, and while his works are traceable, there are wildly differing versions of his life and death.

He was educated at King's School, Canterbury and was later awarded a scholarship at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. It has been suggested that while at school he became a secret agent of the government which may in turn have been an instrument in his untimely death. However this has not been proven.

He completed his bachelor of arts degree in 1584 and earned his master's degree three years later. Upon leaving school, he moved to London where he wrote many of his plays for an acting troop known as the Admiral's Men. His first play, Tamburlain the Great, was very successful and he followed it with a sequel.

He produced non-dramatic works as well in which he developed his style of writing blank verse. The Passionate Shepherd is one such example that illustrates his style and strong use of narrative. The quality of Marlowe's work has earned him the distinction of the greatest Elizabethan writer after Shakespeare. All of his major works chose the theme of a passionate man whose demise is dictated by an unquenchable desire for power.

In 1593, Marlowe and a friend were involved in the fatal stabbing of William Bradley but their claim of self defense was accepted and they were acquitted. The details of Marlowe's life again become unclear. The most widely accepted theory is that he was killed in a bar fight over payment of a dinner bill. Others have suggested that he was killed as a consequence of his secret service work and still others claim that he lived on into the next century and authored some of the work attributed to Shakespeare.