On this day in 1593 English playwright Christopher Marlowe was stabbed to death in a London pub.
Although he was born in 1564, the same year as Shakespeare, Marlowe’s life was short. As with Shakespeare, little detail is known. He was certainly well educated, went to Cambridge University, and was a big influence on Shakespeare. Marlowe may have worked as a spy for the government. Some commentators even suggest that he faked his death and continued working under the nom de plume of ‘William Shakespeare’.
The report of the inquest does not make things clear. It seems that Marlowe had spent all day in a lodging house in Deptford, with three men: all three had been employees of Robert Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s minister, which raises several questions. They argued over a ‘reckoning’ (possibly the bill for their food and drink), and words turned to blows. Marlowe was stabbed above the eye and died instantly. We can only speculate as to the truth. Certainly Marlowe wrote some beautiful poetry. Here is an extract, from his play The Jew of Malta:
But we will leave this paltry land,
And sail from hence to Greece, to lovely Greece;
I’ll be thy Jason, thou my golden fleece;
Where painted carpets o’er the meads are hurl’d,
And Bacchus’ vineyards overspread the world,
Where woods and forests go in goodly green,
I’ll be Adonis, thou shalt be Love’s Queen;
The meads, the orchards, and the primrose-lanes,
Instead of sedge and reed, bear sugar-canes:
Thou in those groves, by Dis above,
Shalt live with me, and be my love.
Today I will ask for the courage and guidance that I need to help me achieve my goals.