Christopher Marlowe and Ashgate: Of Birthdays and Books

Posted by Ann Donahue – Senior Editor for Literary Studies at Ashgate

Today is Christopher Marlowe’s birthday—or possibly not. In the tradition of scholarly precision, The Marlowe Society  tells us the playwright’s exact date of birth is unknown, but Marlowe was baptized at the church of St George the Martyr, Canterbury, on 26 February 1564.

Whatever the precise day and time of his nativity, Marlowe is arguably the second most important dramatist of the English Renaissance, which praise would needle Marlowe according to scholarship focused on the supposed personal rivalry between him and Shakespeare. Detracting from Marlowe’s legacy is by no means our intention, especially on his birthday. And in any case, Marlowe’s relationship with Shakespeare has not been a topic of universal agreement.

Robert A. Logan, in his award-winning Shakespeare’s Marlowe, critiques the concept of rivalry and instead examines the aesthetic and professional bonds between the playwrights.

Placing the Plays of Christopher Marlowe, edited by Sara Munson Deats and Robert A. Logan, again focuses on Marlowe the playwright rather than Marlowe the man, to position the dramatist’s plays within the dramaturgical, ethical, and sociopolitical matrices of his era.

Contributors to Christopher Marlowe the Craftsman,  edited by Sarah K. Scott and M.L. Stapleton and forthcoming in summer 2010, also keep their eyes squarely on Marlowe the working artist—the master craftsman John Addington Symonds characterized as a “sculptor-poet.”

For more information on published and forthcoming books on Marlowe and his contemporaries, we invite you to visit the Christopher Marlowe page on Ashgate’s website.

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