Kit Marlowe – Shakespeare’s Perfect Competition

Kit Marlowe in "Shakespeare in Love" (Portrayed by Rupert Everett)

Kit Marlowe in “Shakespeare in Love” (Portrayed by Rupert Everett)

Christopher Marlowe was a poet and playwright at the forefront of the 16th-century dramatic renaissance. He was born on February 26, 1564 – the same year as Shakespeare – in Canterbury, England. His works influenced and were shared with many generations of writers during and after his time, including William Shakespeare. While his career as a writer lasted only a few years, his achievements, writings and plays ensured his lasting legacy. He attended the King’s School and was awarded a scholarship that enabled him to study at Corpus Christi College, in Cambridge, where he graduated and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1584, and later on his master’s degree in 1587. After 1587, Marlowe lived in London writing plays for theaters in his area. He was also engaged in the government’s service, which he was thought to be a spy for Queen Elizabeth I. His plays and writings are considered to have initiated the beginning of the mature phase in the era of the Elizabethan theater. Some of his most famous works are Doctor Faustus, Tamburlaine, Edward the Second, The Massacre at Paris, and finally The Jew of Malta. These plays played a huge role in cementing his legacy and proving his writing to be vastly influential to many generations of writers to come. Marlowe was murdered by Ingram Frizer on May 30, 1593, in Deptford, England. Frizer was believed to have been in the spy business alongside Marlowe. Allegedly, a fight broke out between Marlowe and Frizer over a bill for their stay in a tavern, which resulted in Marlowe getting stabbed in the temple-side of his head and killed. There have been many conspiracy theories about Marlowe’s death. Many believe he was assassinated for turning towards atheism and opposing the queen’s religion, but the real reason behind his death is still unknown and debated. Although his life ended abruptly and tragically, Marlowe’s literary significance remained strong and continued to influence younger writers. His legacy stands alongside Shakespeare’s, his most important rival, and is considered to be second only to Shakespeare in the realm of Elizabethan-age tragedies.

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