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Tony Grist

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Kit And Will [Jul. 26th, 2017|09:09 am]
Tony Grist
I've been looking at the case for Christopher Marlowe having faked his death and come back as Shakespeare. Verdict: unprovable but not implausible. There are no clinchers.

But.

Marlowe and Shakespeare were the same age. Marlowe died at 29 having already established himself as playwright, poet and man about town whereas Shakespeare was a late developer, and only appeared as an author- with the Marlovian Venus and Adonis- a couple of months after Marlowe's death. The one takes up where the other finishes.

I read Marlowe's Edward II. It's has all the qualities we call Shakespearian- the poetry, the stagecraft, the ability to see all sides of a question, the mastery of pathos- and resembles Richard II to the point of making the later play seem like an imitation or riposte- but one that improves on the original- which is not something one expects a mere copyist to pull off- unless of course- it were a case of a master in competition with himself.

So either we have two great writers- of an age- with remarkably similar skill-sets- the one beginning his career just as the other cashes in his chips- or else...
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: steepholm
2017-07-26 10:08 am (UTC)
To what end, and how, would Marlowe have pulled this off? Presumably to throw the authorities, creditors, etc., off the scent - but then why return to exactly the same milieu as before, doing the same job, mixing with the same crowd and writing in what you consider the same style? Wouldn't people have noticed that Chris and Will were the same person?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2017-07-26 04:07 pm (UTC)
At the time of his death Marlowe was effectively out on bail, having been accused of blasphemy- which was liable to the same penalties as treason- and had very good reason to disappear.

The theory goes that he was also a government agent- sufficiently valued by his employers for them to fake up a murder/unfortunate accident to get him off the hook. Once he was safely "dead" he went into exile- most probably to Italy. He continued to write- and his manuscripts found their way back to London- where an obliging theatrical entrepreneur called William Shakespeare was happy to act as his front.

Very few people needed to know about this arrangement- or suspected that anything was amiss. Kit was dead and Will was a witty, clubbable man, perfectly plausible as an author.



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