Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe : Poet & Spy

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Christopher Marlowe: Poet & Spy is the most thorough and detailed life of Marlowe since John Bakeless's in 1942. It has new material on Marlowe in relation to Canterbury, also on his home life, schooling, and six and a half years at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and includes fresh data on his reading, teachers, and early achievements, including a new letter with a new date for the famous 'putative portrait' of Marlowe at Cambridge. The biography uses for the first time the Latin writings of his friend Thomas Watson to illuminate Marlowe's life in London and his career as a spy (that is, as a courier and agent for the Elizabethan Privy Council). There are new accounts of him on the continent, particularly at Flushing or Vlissingen, where he was arrested. The book also more fully explains Marlowe's relations with his chief patron, Thomas Walsingham, than ever before. This is also the first biography to explore in detail Marlowe's relations with fellow playwrights such as Kyd and Shakespeare, and to show how Marlowe's relations with Shakespeare evolved from 1590 to 1593.
With closer views of him in relation to the Elizabethan stage than have appeared in any biography, the book examines in detail his aims, mind, and techniques as exhibited in all of his plays, from Dido, the Tamburlaine dramas, and Doctor Faustus through to The Jew of Malta and Edward II. It offers new treatments of his evolving versions of 'The Passionate Shepherd', and displays circumstances, influences, and the bearings of Shakespeare's 'Venus and Adonis' in relation to Marlowe's 'Hero and Leander' Throughout, there is a strong emphasis on Marlowe's friendships and so-called 'homosexuality'. Fresh information is brought to bear on his seductive use of blasphemy, his street fights, his methods of preparing himself for writing, and his atheism and religious interests. The book also explores his attraction to scientists and mathematicians such as Thomas Harriot and others in the Ralegh-Northumberland set of thinkers and experimenters. Finally, there is new data on spies and business agents such as Robert Poley, Nicholas Skeres, and Ingram Frizer, and a more exact account of the circumstances that led up to Marlowe's murder.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 438 pages
  • 157.5 x 236.2 x 27.9mm | 771.12g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Annotated
  • 2 line drawings, 2 maps and numerous halftones
  • 0198186959
  • 9780198186953

Review quote

A superb biography...this is a deeply informed study. * Park Honan, The Times Higher * This is a rich and subtle study, combining convincing scholarship with a fluidity and pace that will appeal to the general reader. * J.P.D. Cooper, TLS * a rich and subtle study, combining convincing scholarship with a fluidity and pace that will appeal to the general reader * J.P.D. Cooper, TLS * 'Honan frames the scant documentary evidence with great skill, carefully establishing the historical, religious and political context for each phase of Marlowe's career, and incorporating recent research that sheds more light on Marlowe's espionage career and murder.' * William Grimes, New York Times * 'Honan's addition to the fleet of books already written about Marlowe is constantly readable and adept at contextualising the history of Marlowe's times around this elusive figure who still fascinates today.' * Dermot Bolger, Sunday Business Post, Dublin * 'Honan has some fascinating new material.' * Leanda de Lisle, History Today * 'a splendid book' * Charles Nicholl, The Sunday Times * 'it is an elegantly written study which must now stand as the best overall biography of one of our most fascinating writers'. s There's plenty of sparkle in this book. * Andrew Dickson * Honan's book is more than a fine piece if detective work revealing the seedy underbelly of Elizabethan England. It takes the reader on a round tour of Marlowe's work. * Raymond Carr, The Spectator * 'By heaven, this is an excellent, necessary and hugely welcome book. Though it responsibly synthesises previous scholarship, brings new perspectives and enlivens old, its greatest achievement is this: it presents a Marlowe that the sane can live with.' * The Independent on Sunday, Min Wild * Honan's great strength lies in his ability to capture the physical texture of Marlowe's world...Honan takes it apart with patience and sound judgement. * J. P. D. Cooper, Times Literary Supplement * This impressive volume must surely be recognised as the standard Marlowe biography * Roger Hards, The Marlowe Society Newsletter *
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About Park Honan

Park Honan is Emeritus Professor at the School of English, University of Leeds. He has written biographies of William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Matthew Arnold, and Robert Browning.
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Table of contents

I. A CANTERBURY YOUTH ; 1. Birth ; 2. Petty school and the parish ; 3. The King's School ; II. SCHOLAR AND SPY ; 4. Corpus Christi College, Cambridge ; 5. Espionage ; III. WITH SHAKESPEARE, KYD, AND THE RALEGH CIRCLE ; 6. The Tamburlaine phenomenon ; 7. Doctor Faustus ; 8. A spy abroad ; IV. SEXUALITY AND RECKONINGS ; 9. The keen pleasures of sex ; 10. A little matter of murder
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Rating details

117 ratings
3.58 out of 5 stars
5 19% (22)
4 35% (41)
3 33% (39)
2 11% (13)
1 2% (2)
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