The Life of Christopher Marlowe

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The Life of Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe, also known as "Kind Kit" and "The Muses' Darling," is most famously known for being a pioneer in English drama. Introducing blank verse, villain-heroes, and revenge dramas to the stage, Marlowe had a huge influence on other playwrights of that time including William Shakespeare.

Marlowe was born in Canterbury in 1564 to John Marlowe, a shoemaker, and Katherine Arthur, a Dover native (Henderson 7). On February 26th that year he was baptized at St. George’s Church in Canterbury (8). During the Elizabethan era, it was important that bright young boys receive proper education. A local philanthropist would usually pay tuition for a boy whose family could not afford it. When Marlowe was accepted into the King’s School, usually for sons of wealthy men, Sir Roger Manwood, a local philanthropist, allegedly paid for his education. When he died, Marlowe wrote a Latin elegy for him ("The Life").

While he was at King’s School, Marlowe studied religious instruction, learned Latin grammar, and Latin and Greek Literature. He was also well studied in ancient and modern history and was encouraged to write Latin poetry and perform plays in Latin and Greek. Upon finishing King’s School, he received a Matthew Parker Scholarship to Corpus Christi College in Cambridge, where he attended from 1580-1587 to further his studies and demonstrate a “mastery of Latin syntax and grammar.” He received his BA in 1584 to become ‘Dominus’ Marlowe ("The Life").

During the Elizabethan era, many of the best college students were recruited into the Secret Service to protect the Queen and her government. In 1584, after receiving his BA, Marlowe was recruited into the Queen’s Secret Service by Sir Francis Walshingham, England’s Secretary of State. During his time as an agent he gained respect from the Queen and her court, getting recognized as a talented writer. His political insight was “reflected in his political play about the turmoil in France, The Massacre at Paris” ("The Life").

Marlowe’s most important assignment was uncovering the Babington Plot, aimed at the Queen’s assassination and the assassination of her chief ministers in order to place Mary, Queen of Scots, as England’s Catholic queen.
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