A Trail of Dates: Conclusive Proof that Marlowe and Shakespeare were the Same Person or Just More Coincidence?

Even some of my closest Marlovian friends have expressed difficulty in grasping the significance of the date trails.  I think the problem is a modern one.  No Elizabethan would have had any difficulty understanding it.  Elizabethans were in time, whereas, we, gentle reader, are out of it.   

The airline industry is supported, not by the few who plan their flights in advance, but by the millions of passengers who don't and, in fact, can't plan ahead.  If we could plan ahead we could take the train or even walk.

It should be completely apparent, however, even to the more skeptical, that the  First Folio  was a planned activity.  The plays did not simply appear, one at a time, at the whim of chance.  They are interrelated.  And there are 36 of them, which means they can (and should)  be divided into an equal tripartite division of 12 comedies,  12 histories, and 12 tragedies.  link  Indeed the canon was patterned on Plato's which contained precisely the same number of dramatic dialogues.

Stratfordians, of course, don't believe this, but the facts speak for themselves: the Author planned ahead.  And the Author worked by that plan, day and night, for years and years.  Goethe marveled about Marlowe's play, Doctor Faustus, how wondrously it was all planned.  

Elizabethans planned their movements.  Elizabethans consulted astrological dates.  Elizabethans were far more superstitious than the average 21 century flier, who still manages to avoid traveling on Friday 13th or, for that matter, overnighting  in hotels on the 13th floor, many of which  have quietly renamed this floor the  "14th"  floor.

We must remember that Marlowe's primary  interest was diplomatic affairs, particularly history.  These psychological types pay close attention to the calendar.  In his day job Marlowe may have been a "master of ceremonies," whose function was to plan festivities by the calendar, so they memorialized past events and portended well for future events.  Link to Sir Lewis Lewknor Most heads of states have similar functionaries.  They remind the President or Prime Minister to pass out special service awards on Martin Luther King Day or where he or she is to be on the 5th of May.

Elizabethan dates are complicated by several factors.  However the reader will see from the table that these complications have been minimized, all things said and done, the author left a remarkably clear trail in these registrations.  Like us Elizabethans tracked dates by the calendar, as we do July 4th. Like us Elizabethans also tracked dates by the same day of the week, same week of the month, as we do for Thanksgiving.  Like us Elizabethans even tracked days according to the moon, as we do with Easter.  

Unlike us Elizabethans had to contend with two calendars.  They were on the Julian calendar, while France and all of Europe was on the Gregorian calendar, after 1581.  Thus 8 of April in England was the 18 of April in France.  To further complicate matters, England's new year did not arrive until 25 March, which requires modern scholars to note 26 February 1597, the day Henry IV first appeared at the Stationers' Registry, as 26 February 1597/8.  Or, to be entirely precise, 8 March 1598, assuming that was not a leap year.  Worse yet when using a modern calendar, such as The Perfect Calendar, to reconstruct the dates, which year applies to January, February and March, since for the English these three months were in, what is for us, the preceding year.  Said more clearly,  February 1597 for the English, was February 1598 for Europeans.

Due to the fact that the Clerk and Court of the Stationers' was not open seven days a week, 365 days a year, some of the registrations may have been effected by this fact.  However since this was unavoidable, close would have to be close enough, as in horseshoes.  Given the difficulties the following table will prove the Author took considerable pains to insure that his works materialized on days of importance to him or to the works themselves.

What we are dealing with are  hidden forms of allusions or calendar puns...a kind of private game the author is playing with us, a conceit, if you will, to test our abilities to follow him.  Just as he does not tell us the double meaning of "our tristful queen" he will not telling us why he entered his first and last works on 8/18 April.  That was for us to discover.  The fact that thirty-one years separated their registrations dates was devised to give us pause to wonder and it is in wonder than our trek towards him begins.  If the reader does not wish to suppose the author engaged in a game with future scholars and readers, then one only needs to remember that his intention could have been entirely personal and private and still  intentional.

I suppose that Marlowe began producing plays on dates of importance to him, as evidenced by the appearance of both Tamburlaine and Doctor Faustus on his birthday(s.) in the early 1590s.  This personal trail carried over to the  me memoralizing of his patrons' birthdays, as with Southampton's birthday for Spanish Tragedy and, later, for Othello.  William Herbert, towhom the Sonnets are addressed and the First Folio, has his  birthday memorialized for Venus and Adonis.  With his love for history it was natural to register the history plays on days of importance to them, as we see with the registration of  Edward II and Midsummer Night's Dream.  Edward II begins with the death of Edward I, which took place on the same day it entered history on, clearly the sign of authorial attention.  Dream, which is not actually a history play, enters on the day Athenians set aside to celebrate the founding of their democracy: 8 October, like our 4th of July  or cinco de Mayo. According to Plutarch it represented the day Theseus, who rules over Athens in the play, returned from Thebes victorious over the Mentor.  The contrived registration of Midsummer Night's Dream stands as a marvelous conceit which defined nearly four centuries of scholarship.  I suspect it was left as a kind of hint that there were other intentional registration dates among the plays.  

The cluster on 20 May, which includes the Sonnets, Anthony and Cleopatra and Pericles, which came in sequential years at the hands of different publishers cannot be accidental and should not have been so long overlooked.  They smack of authorial attention.  They mark Marlowe's final appearance before the Privy Council and/or "death" depending on which calendar is used.  Nor can it be accidental that Pericles was play on the 20th of May 1619 for the festivities at Whitehall honoring the French ambassador.  Indeed Henry IV, which entered on Marlowe's birthday in 1598 was copied out 25 years later on that same day for Sir Edward Dering a copy that seems to have been used in the printing of the First Folio.  Both are proof that someone was tracking these important days.  Likely the same someone who wrote the excited utterance into Dering's record of accounts "Two volumes of I Shakespeare's plays," recording his purchase of two copies of the First Folio in 1593.  Scholars have known about this entry for decades, but dismiss it by claiming the writer started to write "two volumes of Jonson's plays..." and changed his mind after writing just the "j".

The cluster around 8/18 April is quite significant.  Pieces, Marlowe's birth sign, are noted in astrological lore for their concern for "first things/last things."  The first work of Shakespeare appears on that date in 1593, the last work of Shakespeare appears on that date in 1634 and the last work of Marlowe surfaced on that day in 1654, ending an astonishing 64 year registration trail, if we begin with 1590.  

The cluster around 7 February, which marked the death of Mary Queen of Scots,** Sir Philip Sidney's funeral and the Essex Rebellion is also of considerable importance to scholars.  There are bound to be other important dates, but , alas, I have not had access to the records to confirm them.  One will be the registration date of Don Quixote, now presumed to have been translated by Marlowe, who overlapped at Valladolid with Cervantes, ca. 1600.   link

Another remarkable cluster centered around 4/14/24 of August.  All important days for Marlowe.  Marlowe's play The Massacre at Paris, a portion of which survives in holograph, link is a diplomatic docudrama, like King John or Othello, which takes its title from the St. Bartholomew Massacre of French Huguenots which took place on 14/24 of August 1572.  Four people who Marlowe knew personally, Sir Francis Walsingham, his young namesake, Sir Thomas Walsingham, young Sir Philip Sidney and Nicholas Faunt  all witnessed the Massacre from the saftey of the English House in Paris.  Marlowe, then eight may have been there as a page. Link

To recap: the date trail springs out of a type of life that planned events and which found significance in days.  This same type of life is often drawn towards history and produces works according to a well devised and thought out plan.   It never misses a birthday or an anniversary.  It is in time, not out of time.  

Marlowe was selected, early on, for his ability to meet plot with counter plot and this unusual ability is reflected in his works and, later, in Shakespeare's works writ large.  

The fact Shakespeare's works are connected to events in Marlowe's life  and follows the same pattern for memorializing dates of importance to the history plays  is nothing short of astonishing.  

While not remarked on by Stratfordians, Shakespeare contrives to remember Marlowe's "demise" in Henry IV (link), where he just as certainly has him escape death from his head injury.  He recalls this in Twelfth Night and again in Measure for Measure.  Just for the record, Spenser's movements have also been traced by keeping track of his registration dates, so it is unlikely that he was the only Elizabethan who took advantage of this private avenue to interconnect himself, his patrons and his works with their registration dates or the moment they were given to history.  It merely required an instruction to his publishers: "take this work in on 20 May.  This one goes in on 4 August."

Stratfordians who deny the Author intention, even in the writing of the plays, suppose that none of the plays were registered with his authorization.   They also write I am playing fast and loose with these dates because they are not always "precise" or "exact" and because I allow him to take advantage of both calendars and once and a while even the same day of the week and month method.   Many notable Stratfordians have claimed Elizabethans didn't track two dates, as I have suggested the Author did.  But they are quite mistaken.  Here is what Benjamin Woolley has to say about this in his biography of Dr. John Dee, who was an adviser to Queen Elizabeth I.  The book's title is The Queen's Conjurer.  Woolley, who has no stake in the authorship question, writes, 

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As a result of this decision, England remained outside the Gregorian system for a further 170 years, communications during that period customarily carrying two dates, one "OS" or Old Style, the other "NS' or New Style. (173)

So the Stratfordian criticism of my point is either based on ignorance of these primary records (most likely) or they are simply lying to obscure the validity of this important point.

The following table proves, one is quite certain, that the Author of both Marlowe's canon and Shakespeare's was one and the same person and that over a period of nearly sixty years he carefully orchestrated the registrations of his works.

Play, Poem, Work or Event Date Entered for Publication Event it Memorializes
 Midsummer Night's Dream  8 October 1600 Theseus' Day or Athens'  Democracy Begins: 8 October, cited by Plutarch, one of the Author's sources for MND.
True Contention (Henry VI)  12 March 1593/4  The date of the Handshake, iii,i, cited by Hollinghsed. Notice how it appears in the dead center of the play.
Henry VI  8 November 1622 The play opens on in history was 7 November, cited by Holinshed, but in line 169 the Author causes Prince Henry to be proclaimed King following the funeral of Henry 5, i.e., 8 November.  First registered with the FF''s entry 8 Nov. 1622)
Edward II

Edward III

 6 July 1593

1 December 1595

The day the play opens on in history; cited by Holinshed. 

The same day Edward III assumed power on, cited by Holinshed. 


Venus and Adonis (Said Shakespeare's first "heir); Two Noble Kinsmen, (Shakespeare's Last Known Play) The Maiden's Holiday (Marlowe's Last Known Play)

Shoemaker's Holiday (later attributed to Dekker)  Alludes in line to 20 May.

 18/28 April 1593; 8/18 April 1634; 8/18 April 1664





19 April 1610


William Herbert's Birthday Gregorian Calendar. (G)

i.e., 8 April = 18 April



Shoemaker on a holiday?  One day late.

Sonnets 20/30 May 1609 Marlowe's final appearance, and/or death,  cited by Shakespeare in Henry IV.
Pericles 20/30 May 1608      "     "
Anthony and Cleopatra

The Woman Hater+

20/30 May 1608

20/30 May 1607

     "     "

      "     "

Marlowe Surfaces at Valladolid 20/30 May 1599 Six years to the day from the date of his final appearance and or "death."
Famous Victories of Henry Fifth 15 May 1594 Alludes in-line to Marlowe, to Deptford, Kent, to "20 the year past." Calls Gadshill "the spy of the booties" has him resurface at John Cobbler's home.
Troilus and Cressida 7 February 1602/3 Mary Queen of Scots is beheaded 1587.**  Play transfers on 28 January 1609, same day on Gregorian Calendar, i.e., 28 Jan = 7 Feb.  Also the anniversary of the Essex Rebellion.
Titus Andronicus 6 February 1596   "      "
Rosalynde (AYLI's source)

Spanish Tragedy**


6 October 1590

6 October 1592 

6 October 1621

Southampton's 18th Birthday, alludes to it in line.

Southampton's 47th Birthday

Hamlet    26  July 1602 King James's Coronation, St. James' Day and St. Christopher day.^^
Hero and Leander 28 September 1593 Marlowe's life was saved by Dr. Thomas Watson in Hogg's Lane on 18/28 September 1589.  Both men were jailed for the fight.  Marlowe was expeditiously released to return to work as Arbella's "reader and attendant."
The Jew of Malta; Oenone and Paris* O&P forms a literary triptych with V&A, H&L.  Its registration marks Heywood's first appearance, this registration of Marlowe's The Jew of Malta in 1634, his last appearance. (or so one supposes.) 17 May 1594, 17 May 1594

Same day, same year.

One year to the day from the date of Marlowe's final arrest. (18 May 1593 same day as 17 May 1594, i.e., Friday.)
Rape of Lucrece 9 May 1594 One year to the day from the date of the London pogrom against writers, that tortured Thomas Kyd and arrested Marlowe. Two years to the day from Marlowe's arrest in Shoreditch. 
The Jew of Malta; 27 February 1591 Henselowe's Diary; Marlowe Christened 27 February 1563/4
 Dr. Faustus 27 February 1592 Henselowe's Diary; Marlowe's Day
Henry IV 26 February 1598 Marlowe christened 27 February 1564, (same week day) .
Henry IV 26 February 1622/3 A presentation literary copy paid for by Dering for use in the First Folio in Pluckley, Kent..
 Tamburlaine 14 August 1590
Henry V  4/14 August 1599 Opens the three day Canterbury Fair set aside by Henry VI  to commemorate his father Henry V.
As You Like It 4/14 August 1599     "                      "              "
Much Ado About Nothing 4/14August 1599       "                     "              "
Richard II 29 August 1594 Richard defeated at Flint, date converted to Gregorian Calendar: i.e., 19 August = 29 August^
Doctor Faustus 7 January 1600/1 Marlowe's College mentor Francis Ketts was burnt alive for atheism 6 January 1588/9.
Richard III 21 October 1597 Said pirated, no correlation discovered. Stop the Presses! Correlation discovered:

see below.

Antonie   3 May 1592  Part of the Pattern Below, Marlowe may have acted as editor.
Taming of A Shrew

Yorkshire Tragedy

 2 May 1592

2 May 1608

Linked to the last of the great Kentish Quakes 1580, and thus an important earthshaking day.
Dutch Church Libels (in iambic pentameter, signed "Tamburlaine")   2 May 1593 Touched off the London pogrom against writers that netted Kyd and Marlowe.  The same sentiment as Gaunt's speech in Richard II, "this England that was wont to conquer others hath made a shameful conquest of itself."
Cymberline not dated but a nativity play supposed to date to the birth of Jesus.  See Howard White, Copp'd Hills Towards Heaven
King Lear  26 November 1607, with a note saying it was first acted 26 December 1605 at Whitehall Holinshed is clear that Cordelia survives, but gives no date apart from  "in the year of the world 3105."
Amintae Gaudia (Thomas Watson, d. 1592)  10 November 1592 Dedicated to Mary Sidney Herbert by "C.M." presumed Marlowe. Watson's birthday? or a date of significance to Mary?  (Still searching....)
Merry Wives of Windsor  18 January1602 Said Pirated.  However it was ONE year to the day from the date Pembroke's father died on. Meaning ONE year to the day from William Hebert becoming the Earl of Pembroke.  I suppose there were some merry wives in Windsor then.
  +Said John Fletcher's **Said Thomas Kyd's by Heywood

^Scholars will be correct to point out that at the time of the battle at Flint (1399) there was no Gregorian calendar.  However if the da (19 August) y was given the 10 day correction, it would become 29 August.  I view this as a conceit of the Author's doing for us what we were wont to do for ourselves, however I note that Holinshed  gives 30 August,  plus or minus a day, for the date of Richard's return to London.  So this may be what the registration was intended to mark.  The same is technically true for the birth of William Herbert, for on April 8, 1580 there still was but one calendar, the Julian.  However, as soon as the Gregorian calendar came in, i.e., in 1582, Herbert's birthday would have been properly tracked by his master of ceremonies as 8/18 April.

^^The registration of Hamlet is very instructive.  First we have to recall that Hamlet is about King James VI, later James I, as first perceptively suggested by Lillian Winstanly in Hamlet and the Scottish Succession. Link (1921)  James became king of Scotland on 24 July 1567, he became king of England on 26 July 1603.  Hamlet entered on 26 July 1602, one year to the day prior to James' coronation in St. James' day.  The man in charge of his coronation was the mysterious Sir Lewis Lewknor, Master of Ceremonies, charged with making the days memorable. A Richard Lewknor was a classmate of Marlowe's at the King's School and later claimed to have attended Cambridge with Marlowe and the Lewknors and Marlowes were close family friends in Sussex. Link   Since St. James and St. Christopher share saint days, the date is of double importance.  A glance at the calendar will prove that the correct date 25 July fell in that year on a Sunday, so the Author took the closest week day.  

**Mary Queen of Scots, was executed on 8 February 1587, which the Perfect Calendar, labels a Wednesday. Her death warrent had been delivered by the "earls of Shrewsbury and Kent on 7 February."  The Essex Rebellion's use of Richard II fell on 7 February, which Augustine Phillipps on his Examination declared was a "Saterday next.," which agrees with the Perfect Calendar. The Rebellion itself fell on the 8th or the same day as Mary's execution.  One might also point out that Bruno was executed on 7/17 February 1600.

On The Registration of the First Folio of Shakespeare: 8 November 1623, sixteen never before published plays are listed, including The Tempest, Macbeth and "The Thirde Parte of Hnery ye sixt" which meant Part One, since the other two parts had already been printed. Notice that Blount's name appears before Isaak Jaggard's, good proof he took the manuscript copies to the court himself.

I've just made another date! (17 August 2005) Play date that is.  Richard III’s registration fell on the 20th of October1597, entered by Andrew Wise. It has always bothered me, because it didn't fit with Richard’s life.

I've often thought it might be the edition was "pirated" and  wrote as much to Richard Dawkins last night.  But this morning in my hot tub, I got to thinking Andrew Wise was an "authorized" publisher. Valentine Simms a respected printer. So I thought to give it another go.

That’s when I noticed the registration has the title as "The tragedie of kinge Richard the Third with the death of the Duke of Clarence." Yep, you’ve guessed it, the registration  hinged on Clarence.

Clarence was born on the 21st of October 1449. Clarence is the hero of the play, not Richard, Richard had Clarence executed. But before this, Clarence became the Earl of Salisbury....the title to which Marlowe’s patron, Sir Robert Cecil, long aspired and eventually obtained.

It’s true the date is a day off, but that’s close enough for this sort of game.  Agents miss their appointments, the offices are closed, we cannot expect perfection.  

But that’s our link. The anonymous version, the source play, The True Tragedy of Richard III, entered on the 19th of June 1594, or about the day of the famous scene about the sorcery of Jane Shore, which is said to have been 13th June 1483.  The plague was raging in London that week, so the office may have been keeping irregular days.

See III, iv., the FF's Richard III.

The 19th of June is close enough to the 13th for a signal.

Now consider this.   Title to continue to print was changed to Mathew Law on the 25th of June 1602. Or on the day Rivers and Grey were executed at Pontefract.

The play is a bit confused dramatically, but not the author’s agents.  They were doing their thing at his command.  I love it.


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