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Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)Download nowEnlargeShow similar images

Title: Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)

Description: Christopher Marlowe (c.February 26, 1564-May 30, 1593), British playwright and poet, who also served as a government spy in the employ of Francis Walsingham (Sir Francis Walsingham; c. 1532-April 6, 1590), first secretary and spymaster for Elizabeth I (September 7, 1533-March 24, 1603). In that capacity, and while a student at Cambridge, Marlowe was sent as one of Walsingham's spies to France, where he briefly joined a Jesuit monastery at Rheims, learning about French plots to unseat Elizabeth I. He returned to England to make these reports to Walsingham's young nephew, Thomas Walsingham (Sir Thomas Walsingham; c.1561-August 11, 1630) before resuming his Cambridge studies. In 1584, Thomas Walsingham, who was born into great wealth, was made chief of State Intelligence by his uncle, with the specific task of rooting out any Catholic plots. Throughout his adventurous and rather mysterious life and literary career, even when penning his major works--Tamburlaine the Great, Edward II, Dr. Faustus--Marlowe continued spying for Thomas Walsingham in England, chiefly as an informant on British dissidents. The two reportedly developed a homosexual relationship, Marlowe often visiting Thomas Walsingham's large estate at Scadbury. On the stormy night of May 30, 1593, the 29-year-old playwright was dining at the Eleanor Bull's Tavern at Deptford, now a suburb of London, when Marlowe began arguing with three of his companions, attacking one of them, Ingram Frizer, slashing Frizer's forehead with Frizer's knife. Frizer grabbed the weapon and drove it into Marlowe's skull, killing him. The body was quickly removed before any physician could examine the fatal wound, and just as quickly buried. Thomas Walsingham was one of the mourners at that burial. Marlowe's strange death became a mystery after some later claimed, including the few eyewitnesses present, that his murder had been staged by Frizer and others and at the orders of Thomas Walsingham, who employed Marlowe's companions. It was further claimed that, because Marlowe had been recently arrested on charges of heresy and had been released on bail, that he was facing possible execution, which is why his lover, Thomas Walsingham, arranged for his faked death. Marlowe, in this scenario, sailed under a new identity for France and lived out a long and confortable life under that alias, financially supported by Walsingham, and that he wrote all the plays later attributed to William Shakespeare.

Category: Intelligence

Keywords: Christopher Marlowe, Francis Walsingham, Thomas Walsingham, Elizabeth I, Catholic plots, secret agents, spies, spying, espionage, conspiracies, Ingram Frizer, staged killing, homicides, vanishings, disappearances, playwrights, poets, taverns, Cambridge, William Shakespeare

Orientation: Portrait

Dimensions: 900 x 1542 (1.39 MPixels) (1.71)

Print Size: 7.6 x 13.1 cm; 3.0 x 5.1 inches

File Size: 4.00 MB (4,197,724 Bytes)

Resolution: 300 x 300 dpi

Color Depth: 16.7 million (24 BitsPerPixel)

Compression: None

Image Number: 0000004400

Source: Jay Robert Nash Collection

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