Christopher Marlowe, the Elizabethan playwright who was born in Canterbury in 1564 and who was supposedly killed in Deptford in 1593, is to be commemorated by a window in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey on July 11.
Marlowe was a better educated, better looking, more romantic and far darker person than William Shakespeare, which is a major reason (apart from his undoubted brilliance as a playwright, with Dr. Faustus his best-known work today) why many of his admirers are convinced that he was the real author of Shakespeare's plays.
The Marlowe window has, controversially, a question mark before the date of his death, leaving the contentious issue of his demise completely open. Did he fake his death and escape to exile? Even if he did, did he really write Shakespeare's plays, or is that just a fantasy? Did he indeed die, murdered to keep his mouth shut by powerful people who feared being compromised by his well-known outspokenness, and scandalous — he was openly gay — lifestyle?
Whatever the truth, it is undeniable that he was one of the two (with Shakespeare) great talents of the Elizabethan stage, whose work still comes across with an undiminished vigor, 400-plus years after it was written (as demonstrated in David Lan's recent production of Faustus at the Young Vic, starring Jude Law) and as such richly deserves this belated tribute at the Abbey.
—By Paul Webb Theatrenow