This essay was written explicitly for the Calvin and Rose Hoffman Prize (2001) and is the work of its author. A copy of it has been or will be posted on the author’s web site, identifying it as this year’s Hoffman essay. The purpose of this posting is merely to share it with interested readers.



Rev. Dr. John Baker, Bishop, A.A., B.A., B.S., M.A., M.S.S., Ph.D. (abd), D.D.


Note: the footnotes and scans, about fifty of them are missing, because they don't atomically and or automatically transfer over to this format.  I'm working on it, along with a wood burning microwave.  The double spacing inside quotes is also an artifact of the conversion process.






On the Likelihood of Marlowe’s Authorship of Venus and Adonis:


Scholarly opinion regarding Venus and Adonis stands, with few exceptions, as unfavorable (Smith, 1968, 86). We think there is a reason for this: the author did not like Venus and did not intend to present her in a favorable light. Just as Edward II and Macbeth were not presented positively. This single observation proves our point:


"What have you urged that I cannot reprove?

The path is smooth that leadeth on to danger.

I hate not love, but your device in love,

That lends embracements unto every stranger.

You do it for increase: o strange excuse!

When reason is the bawd to lust's abuse.

"Call it not love, for love to heaven is fled,

Since sweating lust on earth usurped his name,

There is a nearly palpable malice in this judgment. Nothing similar will be found in the classical or neoclassical sources, nearly all of which were written by older, wise and far more liberal and sophisticated wits. Why should the poet scorn Venus or her devices in love? Does this abhorrence signal an ambivalence in the poet’s own sexuality? Does he scorn women or just Venus or, more realistically, merely whoever the poet had in mind when he formalized and characterized her personality? (Unless we’re to suppose he knew Venus.)

Could this animus arise from some personal experience the poet had endured at the hands of Venus’ Elizabethan analog? We shall suggest it does. If so, this could easily be the source:

"Fair Queen," quoth he, "if any love you owe me,

Measure my strangeness with my unripe years;

Before I know myself, seek not to know me,

No fisher but the ungrown fry forbears;

The mellow plum doth fall, the green sticks fast,

Or being early plucked, is sour to taste.

It seems possible to read this poem in this light. The poet has suffered, while still just a boy, what would now be looked upon as "child abuse," at the hands of an older and more experienced lover. Such scars are known to be deep and difficult to expunge (Herman, 1992).  This would explain why, as Smith points out, "Venus represents no ideal picture of physical love. She is dominated by the imagery, which most often and most significantly revolves around the hard and violent appetite of the hawk" (Smith, 1968,86). Actually the poet openly compares her to a falcon in the line, "As Falcons to the lure, away she flies." It stands as a certain indication the poet knew, at the very least, the terminology of this generally aristocratic sport. How did the young rustic learn of it? It appears equally evident Venus was being depicted here as a predatory huntress. Why?

Eugene Cantelupe notes, "there is very little divinity and even less mythology about Venus...certainly there is only revulsion in his feelings for her. And this is the theme of the poem." (Cantelupe, 1963, 148). Indeed it is the theme of this essay: Venus is not favorably drawn by the poet. However his revulsion towards her is not absolute, "I hate not love, but your device in love," he intones in a refrain similar to many jilted lovers.

In a perceptive and watershed article, now sixty years old, Rufus Putney suggested only "Once we make the assumption that Venus and Adonis was meant to be amusing, all that before seemed ridiculous and inept is transmuted into mirth, and Shakespeare’s wonderful vivacity becomes apparent" (Putney, 1941, 548). However mirth will not suffice for the rancor of what we see in this poem. Black humor, perhaps, the deepest and darkest sort of farce or satire, but good natured humor will not do. There is nothing nurturing about what has happened to poor Adonis, lovely Adonis, scandalized, one might suggest traumatized, beyond his wildest imagination by the predatory attacks mounted on him by the lustful and willful Venus, who is determined to take sexual matters into her own hands, not to mention into her lovely coral mouth. Indeed this avenue of sexual contact is not only brilliantly hinted at, in the opening of the poem,

She feedeth on the steam, as on a prey,

And calls it heavenly moisture, air of grace,

Wishing her cheeks were gardens full of flowers,

So they were dewed with such distilling showers.

it is the source of the double meaning in Venus’ concluding remarks, "Had I been toothed like him [the boar] I must confess, / With kissing him I should have kill’d him first." This is an incontrovertible allusion to oral sex, confirmed by the fact that the boar "sheath’d unaware the tusk in his soft groin." Its proof positive Venus’s concupiscent character does not change in the poem and that it is she, as much as the boar, who has killed the boy: "She red and hot as coals of glowing fire, He red for shame, but frosty in desire." This is the all important foregrounding of the poem. Adonis was not ready for his first sexual encounter, particularly not one with one so worldly as Venus.

And what matters this to Venus? She has plucked his flower, literary and figuratively, heedlessly of the rightness of his caution (Patterson, 1987, en passim). Taken on this level, this poem becomes the locus classicus for the loss of male virginity. While generally a thing to be scorned, it remains no trifling matter, particularly in the life of a young poet, whose calling it is to amplify emotions, his own and others. Putney may be correct, on one level. It is possible to see Venus’ remark, that she might, in her own boundless passion, have emasculated the boy, to be riotously funny, but certainly not to the boy (Herman, 1992). And in this poem, right or wrong, the narrator is more sympathetic to the boy than to Venus, whom he calls "sick-thoughted."

If we are correct here, we must ask how the young poet came by such experiences?

And who meted them out to him? This affrontedness is not, by the way, at all aristocratic, which tends to be far more liberal in such matters. It seems more "prudish" than one would expect, particularly in a poem with obvious erotic undertones. To tell the truth, it rings quaint and almost "biblical," as if the narrator disapproved of such trysts on theological or ethical grounds. Perhaps it was because Venus was married that her actions seemed "lustful" and "sick-thoughted?" The poet goes to considerable pains to remind us that Venus was the spoil of Mars:

I have been wooed, as I entreat thee now,

Even by the stern and direful God of war,

Whose sinewy neck in battle ne'er did bow,

Who conquers where he comes in every jar,

Yet hath he been my captive, and my slave,

And begged for that which thou unasked shalt have.


"Over my Altars hath he hung his lance,

His battered shield, his uncontrolled crest,

And for my sake hath learned to sport and dance,

To toy, to wanton, dally, smile, and jest,

This is a fact about Venus which the sources do not spend much moment upon, yet it is certainly of considerable concern to the poet. It is, as Smith and others have observed, a "digression." We suspect it a clue about who Venus was: a lustful but well married lady. An adulteress, as these wonderful women are properly called, for what would the world be without them?

In this light one cannot overlook the fact Anne Hathaway was eight years Shakespeare’s senior and pregnant when he married her, if we are to judge by the standing records. So it seems possible Venus might just possibly be a characterization of Anne. Indeed it has frequently been suggested Shakespeare, who seems to know human jealousy from the inside out, supposed himself a cuckold. Be this as it may, this thesis shipwrecks if we attempt to discover any genuine biographic connections between Venus and Anne, who undoubtedly sprang from remarkably different social strata. Venus, with all her sophistication, evident if nothing else in her hawking and equestrian habits, cannot be compared to the illiterate and rustic, but reportedly, witty, Anne Hathaway.

So who was Venus modeled on? There must have been dozens of similar women in Elizabethan England, perhaps as many as that in Warwickshire alone. However when one takes notice of all the "foregrounding" one discovers the field is quickly narrowed to a blond equestrian breeder with more than a normal interest in the mating habits of her stallions. We shall also find she appears to frequent Kent. There was a high born woman, willful and lustful, who fits the biographic background of Venus to a "tee" and who has been glimpsed in the poems by such well respected mainstream scholars as Boas and Chambers, as we shall soon point out in some detail. If the poem was, on one level, a personal broadside, it must have been against this woman, an aristocratic Countess, given to private encounters, who was indeed married to a famous fighter and Chieftain of Wales, Sir Henry Herbert. As we shall see, it is this personal content that opens the poem to a far more meaningful reading than has hitherto been extracted from it.

There is however a major hurdle to overcome. If we suppose Venus to be the woman glimpsed by Boas and Chambers in the Sonnets, we shall discover it becomes impossible to hold that Shakespeare was the author of Venus and Adonis. In his place we shall have to propose that Christopher Marlowe, then a boy being groomed for the clergy, was responsible for this unusual poem. Marlowe is acknowledged to have known Mary Sidney Herbert and as tutor to Lady Arbella Stuart worked within the enchanted circle of the Countess of Shrewsbury, Bess of Hardwick (Baker, 1997, 367). So he was no stranger to the bedroom habits of the rich and famous, which resemble musical chairs rather than vespers.

Perhaps on the occasion of Marlowe’s sudden and ignoble death, Marlowe’s literary heirs approached Shakespeare, perchance he approached them, offering to bear the weight of authorship in place of Marlowe’s then deeply besmirched name? Perhaps, as in Shakespeare in Love, he owed Marlowe some especial favor? This we cannot prove, but we can prove that, of the two, Marlowe seems far more likely the author of Venus and Adonis than Shakespeare. And this is the purpose of our paper. We suggest the evidence presented herein overwhelmingly supports Marlowe’s authorship of this poem.

Now it is the habit of the consensus holders to imagine the case for Shakespeare’s authorship is beyond any dispute other than "direct proof," which this paper will not be offering. However the case for Shakespeare’s claim to the poems is not as solid as it is for the plays, as we shall prove in due course, and it is this fact that makes this paper possible.

This said, let us assume for a moment that Shakespeare was its author. To do so we would have to suppose he contrived the topography and allusions in the poem from blank paper. That in no respect did they intentionally parallel real figures or places, particularly figures and places he’d never known or seen, such as snow capped mountains and other promontories. We would also have to suppose the countless parallels between the classical sources are accidental or coincidental. However this view would not explain the animus of the writer towards Venus. If we go this route we are obligated to suppose he hated women, if not sex, in general, something the record does not support. Also we loose the important foregrounding of the poem, which points to Venus’ lust and "device in love" as the casus belli of the poet’s derision. We also come to loggerheads over how he gained such a detailed knowledge over a topography totally alien to Warwickshire, a knowledge which seems to ooze out of his very essence, time and time again. Nor is it simply a general knowledge of world geography, but appears to be focused on Kent, a county far removed from Warwickshire and which the young Shakespeare is not known to have ever visited. (Kent proves, however, the very county where Marlowe and Mary Sidney Herbert were born and raised.) We would also have to overlook the remarkable parallels between the poem and its classical and neoclassical "sources,’ which we would then have to dismiss as coincidence, parallels so certain none have ever dare to do this (Evans, Smith and Harrison).

Unwilling to suppose this, we can and should, at least for now, set aside the claim for Shakespeare’s authorship, an assertion which has been predicated solely on the dedication page of Venus and Adonis, to which Shakespeare’s name has merely been attached, as we shall prove below.


The Dedication and Title Page Evidence:

Venus and Adonis contains a dedication in, albeit tenuous and impersonal terms, to the Earl of Southampton (Price, 2000, 141-44, etc.). At the close appears the name "William Shakespeare." Only a single example for the first edition or quarto, as they were called, survives (Scolar Press Facsimile, 1973). Even the most elementary bibliographic examination of this exceedingly rare text proves the dedication page was added to the edition after the text had been printed. In the following two scans the reader will see how this addition was effected, first in Venus and Adonis and second in Rape of Lucrece.

In the former the dedication is not part of the volume, whereas in Lucrece the dedication is conjoined with the text, or, more precisely, with the "argument." This suggests the attribution an afterthought, something hastily added subsequently to the printing of the text.

Wayback Machine

Below is the dedication page to Venus and Adonis

Below is its blank verso with the dedication showing through.


Above is the Dedication page to Rape of Lucrece. Above is its verso.

The proof is conclusive: Venus’s dedication page was added to its text, Lucrece’s wasn’t.

Moreover title and dedication page evidence regarding Shakespeare’s works remains notoriously suspect. For example The Yorkshire Tragedy was said his both on its title page and at the Stationers’ Registry and yet it was excluded from the First Folio (Kozlenko,1974, 114-117). So despite title page and registration evidence, there has never been a serious modern attempt to add Yorkshire Tragedy to Shakespeare’s canon. This means title page evidence regarding the works of Shakespeare cannot be trusted and thus the attribution for his authorship, even of the plays, is not absolute.

Regarding the poems, the case is even shakier. The collection entitled The Passionate Pilgrim, while lovingly printed, intended for the pocket and said his, was a fraud. Of its twenty or twenty one poems (depending on whether one regards XIV and XV as two poems or two versions of the same poem) only five can be said to have been Shakespeare’s and one (perhaps two) belonged to Marlowe (XX and XXI[?]). Despite its loveliness The Passionate Pilgrim was in Harrison’s words, "a dishonest publication (Harrison, 1584). Another poem, "A Lover’s Complaint," which was included within the Sonnets is, G. B. Harrison tells us, widely "doubt[ed] on grounds of style [as] Shakespeare’s work" (Harrison, 1594).

Lastly we must point out all the poems believed to have been Shakespeare’s and now routinely included with his plays, were excluded from his First Folio. Men who knew Shakespeare and his works, labeled the missing and earlier works as "stolne, surreptitius copies, maimed, and deformed by the frauds and stealthes of injurious impostors." They went on to say only those works included in the First Folio were rightly his, "even those are now offer’d to your view cur’d, and perfect of their limbes; and all the rest, absolute in their numbers, as he conceived the~[m]" (Hinnman, 1968, 2). If this evidence isn’t enough to persuade the reader to, at least tentatively, set aside the attribution to Shakespeare, then read no further, for no argument could be plainer or more compelling. Said differently, the case for Shakespeare’s authorship of Venus and Adonis has been traditional one and does not enjoy the same footing that credits him with the 36 plays included within the First Folio If the reader refuses to acknowledge this fact, then read no further.


It is not our intention to review here the details of Marlowe’s sensational arrest and alleged death. These events took place within the space of 12 days between 18th and 30th May 1593 and have been covered in considerable detail by other scholars (Urry, 1988, 80-98). We point out only two facts. First, Venus and Adonis entered history and was, thus, safely in the publisher’s hands on 8/18 April 1593, while Marlowe was officially free and very much alive. It is not believed to have been printed until June.

Here is the first recorded notice of its purchase,

dated 12 June 1593.

(Schoenbaum, 1975,133).

Second, no less than two Elizabethan publishers of Marlowe’s works hinted openly that Marlowe’s books had appeared under other names. Of essential moment to this thesis is Edward Blunt’s (or "Blount" as it is commonly spelled) dedication to Hero and Leander, (1598/9) addressed to both Sir Thomas Walsingham and, presumably, future readers. Blount speaks, some what cryptically, of Marlowe’s "right[ful] children." He writes that he hopes Hero and Leander will "prove more agreeable and thriving to his right children, than any other foster countenance whatsoever." No publisher could dare go further towards suggesting that another of Marlowe’s poems was presently circulating under a "foster countenance," without risking legal action. A year later (1600) Thomas Thorpe, who published Marlowe’s translation of The First Book of Lucan or The Civil Wars of Rome [or Pharsalia] as it is often known, opened his address to Blount and the reader, by stating, that "Christopher Marlowe; whose ghost or Genius is to be seen walke the Churchyard in (at the least) three of four sheets." Scholars know "Churchyard" meant "Paules Churchyard," where new books were sold under careful supervision and licence. The problem is that Marlowe did NOT have "three or four" books selling in "Paules Chruchyard," at that time (Bowers, Vol. 2, 279, 430). Taken together these two dedications suggest, we think, overwhelmingly, that "[un]right children" of Marlowe, children wearing "foster countenance[s]," or ghost children, were in open circulation in "Paules Churchyard," and that both Thomas Thorpe and Edward Blount knew about them. When one remembers Edward Blount was a prime mover of the First Folio, which excluded Venus and Adonis from Shakespeare’s works, one can only increase one’s appreciation of these long neglected facts.

Why Marlowe:

Curiously the best evidence for Marlowe’s authorship of Venus and Adonis comes directly from Marlowe himself. Marlowe was the author, or joint author, as title page evidence suggests, of Hero and Leander, first published in 1598, five years after Marlowe’s death (Bowers, 1973, v2, 425 ). Yet Hero and Leander proclaims itself a sequel to Venus and Adonis. Generally speaking sequels are only undertaken by the author. More profoundly, because of the date of Marlowe’s death (30 May) and the publication of Venus and Adonis (some time in early June) Marlowe simply cannot have read Venus and Adonis. Unless, of course, Venus and Adonis was his own earlier work or he and Shakespeare collaborated on it in some profoundly intimate way. This form of intimate collaboration (hinted at in the movie Shakespeare in Love) was proposed by the venerable scholar, A. E. Rowse in his biography of Marlowe (Rowse, 1964). Rowse, who is very aware of the verbal echos in Hero and Leander, speculated Shakespeare and Marlowe shared manuscripts of works in progress. However Rowse does not appear to notice the "sharing" is unidirectional. Only Hero and Leander quotes from or alludes to Venus and Adonis.. Given Shakespeare’s nearly continuous quoting from or alluding to Marlowe in the other works, this fact strongly suggests Shakespeare had never seen Hero and Leander , at least at the time of Venus or Adonis. ( Or, to keep our Authors straight, that Marlowe had never heard of Hero and Leander at the time of his work on Venus and Adonis. ) Rowse, always perceptive to stylistic matters notes, "it is a thousand pities that Marlowe never finished Hero and Leander; for...most critics has greater perfection of form than does Venus and Adonis (Ibid)." This is precisely what one would expect if Hero was a sequel to Venus, for its author would have, surely, matured during what we propose was a decade long interim. So the fact Hero styles itself as a sequel to Venus is sound evidence Venus was Marlowe’s work. Just as is its stylistic or literary superiority.

This is particularly so when we remember Marlowe made a habit of reminding readers, in the opening of his works, of his earlier works...a kind of self quoting or alluding to mutual times spent together in the past, which is precisely what we see in the opening of Hero and Leander:

On Hellespont, guilty of Truelove's blood,

In view and opposite two cities stood,

Seaborderers, disjoined by Neptune's might;

The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight.

At Sestos Hero dwelt; Hero the fair,

Whom young Apollo courted for her hair,

And offered as a dower his burning throne,

Where she should sit for men to gaze upon.

The outside of her garments were of lawn,

The lining purple silk, with gilt stars drawn;

Her wide sleeves green, and bordered with a grove,

Where Venus in her naked glory strove

To please the careless and disdainful eyes

Of proud Adonis, that before her lies.

Her kirtle blue, whereon was many a stain,

Made with the blood of wretched Lovers slain.

Upon her head she ware a myrtle wreath,

From whence her veil reached to the ground beneath.

Her veil was artificial flowers and leaves

Whose workmanship both man and beast deceives.

Many would praise the sweet smell as she passed,

When 'twas the odor which her breath forth cast;

And there for honey bees have sought in vain,

And, beat from thence, have lighted there again.

About her neck hung chains of pebblestone,

Which, lightened by her neck, like Diamonds shone.

Not only does Marlowe’s portion open with this incontrovertible allusion to Venus and Adonis, but Venus is eleven times on the poet’s mind within the next 6,000 words (his portion of the poem.) Adonis is twice on his mind, including the phrase, "rose-cheeked Adonis" :

The men of wealthy Sestos every year,

(For his sake whom their goddess held so dear,

Rose-cheeked Adonis) kept a solemn feast.

"Rose-cheeked Adonis" is a direct quote from the opening lines of Venus and Adonis.

Unless one wishes to suppose Marlowe was ghostwriting Hero and Leander, the most likely explanation for all this is that he was the author of Venus and Adonis and followed it in due course with Hero and Leander. In a moment we shall see there are numerous internal or textual reasons to suppose Marlowe and not Shakespeare was the author of Venus. Our purpose here has been to establish what might be called "non" internal grounds for Marlowe’s authorship.

Just to document our point, that it was Marlowe’s habit to allude to his previous works in the opening of his latest work, consider the opening of The Jew of Malta, "And now the Guize is dead, [but his soul] is come from France to view this land" (Prologue, 3). This is a certain allusion to Marlowe’s play The Massacre at Paris and to the Guize’s death which occurs at its end. Marlowe’s Edward II opens will an equally certain allusion to Hero and Leander, "these thy amorous lines, Might have enforst me to have swum from France, and like Leander gaspt upon the sande." (I,i,7-8). Faustus opens with back to back allusions to Dido and Edward II. "Not marching in fields of Thraismen, Where Mars did mate the warlike Carthagens, Nor sporting in the dalliance of love in Courts of Kings, where state is over-turne’d..."

Now let us carefully consider Dido, long suspected as Marlowe’s earliest canonical work, clearly dating to his university years, i.e., 1580-1586 and thus, indisputably, earlier than 1593. Yet Dido opens with Venus on stage, clear proof that Venus had long been in the poet’s mind not to mention Adonis, "I will beare [him] to Ida in mine armes," Venus pledges "And couch him in Adonis’ purple downe." (iii,ii,99-100) This allusion ties into the ending of Venus and Adonis when Venus transmutes her fallen boy into a purple flower:

By this the boy that by her side lay killed

Was melted like a vapor from her sight,

And in his blood that on the ground lay spilled,

A purple flow'r sprung up, check'red with white,

Resembling well his pale cheeks and the blood

Which in round drops upon their whiteness stood

Consider too these direct quotes between the two works:


Be ruled by me and seek some other love,

Whose yielding heart may yield thee more relief. Dido


But if thou needs wilt hunt, be ruled by me,

Uncouple at the timorous flying hare, V&A



Taken in tandem Marlowe knew Venus and Adonis, intimately, and was reminding his readers of this rather esoteric knowledge of the lovers in Dido, his earliest play. Moreover he explicitly connects Adonis to the same color "Shakespeare" will: purple, a royal color and a color three times associated with Adonis in V&A. The long and short of this is we have good evidence Marlowe alludes to Venus and Adonis in the same proprietary fashion he alludes to his other works. While it is far beyond the scope of this paper, a close reading of Ovid’s Elegies (which mentions these lovers only in passing, "And Venus grieves, Tibullus' life being spent, As when the wild boar Adonis’ groin had rent" [3, 8]) does demonstrate the Venus of Venus and Adonis is foreshadowed in Marlowe’s translation, in particularly her time with Mars.


The Internal Case for Marlowe’s Authorship of Venus and Adonis:

We began by noting Venus and Adonis has a certain underlying topographic dimensionality which can best be described as Kentish. This is not to imply the author did not intend for its locale to be Adriatic or Grecian. It is simply an assessment of the fact the poem evidences certain features suggestive more of Kent than Grecian hillsides. It is equally sure these costal features are not, even in the remotest way, found in Warwickshire, Shakespeare’s native county. We need hardly mention that by all accounts Venus and Adonis is an early work. As such it seems likely the author would be more inclined to draw on early personal experiences in it than he might in later years. Yet there is nothing in it pointing indisputably to Warwickshire, let alone to Stratford.

Consider what Hallett Smith, the Riverside Shakespeare editor for this poem, acknowledges, "there is no evidence for [the supposition Shakespeare wrote the work in Warwickshire c. 1580] as some authorities have suggested." Smith however slips in a caveat, "unless it can be found in some undeniable rural touches in the poem" (Evans, 1974, 1703). There is no question the poem contains "rural touches," the question is where or from which county where those touches drawn? We intend now to make both arguments: the rural touches place the poem in Kent and the temporal allusions suggest a c. 1580 date. Smith, of course, wouldn’t have liked this, but the evidence stands.


For those not familiar with these two disparate counties, Kent is coastal, Warwickshire isn’t. Kent is set upon the downs, Warwickshire isn’t. In Kent one may see the ocean, the sea-side flora and fauna, and one may witness the coming and going of great sailing ships from the Downs and cinque ports of Kent, Dover and Faversham, the costal communities where Marlowe’s parents originated. Consider this image "after him she darts, as one on shore Gazing upon a late embarked friend, /Till the wild waves will have him seen no more." No landlocked boy has seen such sights or holds such remembrances. However both of Marlowe’s parents were from ocean (or channel) facing communities, Dover and Ospringe/Faversham (Urry, 1988, 12-13). As a lad, in visiting these communities and standing on the cliffs of Dover or in the keep of its castle, young Christopher would have watched, likely in rapt fascination, as great sailing ships were slowly taken from sight by "the wild waves." This observation is one of the most important proofs that the world we live upon is round, a subject of great interest to the mature Marlowe and the source of his underlying friendship with Thomas Harriot, the famous English mathematician and cartographer. (Bakeless, TLS,1 )

Young Marlowe would have known, by rote, this sad little dance. A dance preformed by anguishing sweethearts left alone on sandy shores as their loved ones sailed out of sight. (This does not happen, by the way, in London, where one can see across the Thames.) So these images signal the poet’s deep personal familiarity with the sea, as do hundreds of similar images and figures found elsewhere in these remarkable works. Here they are much more suggestive of Marlowe than Shakespeare, because Shakespeare cannot have had these kinds of childhood experiences. Or, to be more precise, is not known to have had them.

The poem alludes to "downs," "brakes," "mermaids," "dive-dappers, peering out of a wave," "coral," "ocean drenched" and other coastal elements of Kent. While Warwickshire retains some of these features, including the occasional down, it is most assuredly not a coastal county and the poet’s continual allusions to the sea and to topographical features that are not in Warwickshire suggest the poet had laid his underlying scene in Marlowe’s native county, which is famous, worldwide, for its downs, unlike either Adonis’ native home or Warwickshire. This too is good evidence for Marlowe.

Consider this image, also tucked away in Venus and Adonis:

This sour informer, this bate-breeding spy,

This canker that eats up love's tender spring,

This carry-tale, dissentious jealousy,

That sometime true news, sometime false doth bring

These images and figures revolve around or relate to Marlowe’s covert operations, "bate-breeding spy," "carry-tale," "sour informer," "sometime true news, sometimes false." A profession that was costing him considerably in general prestige, judging from his problems at Cambridge and his final arrest. No one likes a spy, even when they are necessary, particularly not in that age when they weren’t.

The following image too is straight out of Marlowe’s profession and his intimate knowledge of warfare and deadly skirmishes:

Even as the wind is hushed before it raineth,

Or as the wolf doth grin before he barketh,

Or as the berry breaks before it staineth,

Or like the deadly bullet of a gun,

His meaning struck here ere his words begun.

Here the poet appreciates the fact that a deadly bullet arrives before the sounds of the rifle reach the victim’s ears. One cannot know this unless one has been shot at...since in shooting at something one always hears the shot first. (Its because rifle bullets travel faster than sound that the bullets reach the victim before the report does.) At that time this knowledge was part of what Oliver Wendell Homes called "the incommunicable knowledge of war." How, in the author’s period of time, when firearms were still new and a working knowledge of small arm ballistics lay in the distant future, would a person know this, except through personal experience in combat, is unclear. Marlowe, we know, was an expert in this area and quotes from Paul Ive’s Art of War in Tamburlaine. This single image is another strong suggestion Marlowe, not the gentle rustic, wrote this poem.

Park Honan, the author of Shakespeare A Life, the most recent Oxford University Press biography of Shakespeare, tries to place Shakespeare out of Warwickshire, for similar topographical allusions. (Honan, 65) In Honan’s case, however, he focuses on the poet’s knowledge of escarpments, promontories and mountains, which Warwickshire does not contain. Indeed it is from Venus and Adonis that Honan has noticed some of these non Warwickshire memories and allusions. He cites, both "upon a promontory" and "As mountain snow melts with the midday sun," either of which certainly suggests the poet had seen such non Warwickshirian sights. However only by ignoring the costal and ocean images, cited above, could Honan build, what was, according to his own appraisal, a rather tenuous and highly speculative case for young Shakespeare having traveled the Midlands. (Though Honan may have forgotten it, no point in England is higher than 4,000 feet and thus there are no snow capped mountains in England [En. Brit.]).

Lastly we would bring the reader’s attention to the often neglected Latin couplet which graces the title page of Venus and Adonis. "Vilia miretus vulgus: himi flauus Apollo/ Pocula Castaliapelena minisiret aqua." This is the Latin that lies behind Marlowe’s translation of Elegia 15 ( Book. I), which read, "Let base conceited wits admire vile things, Faire Phoebus led me to the Muses springs." This line could not be found in Marlowe’s translation and the author of Venus and Adonis would have had to have obtained it in a Latin text. Clearly of the two, only Marlowe had such a text.

Was Venus based on Mary Sidney Herbert?

Having established an underlying Kentish locale to the poem, we now move on in an attempt to identify Venus. We have rejected the notion the author simply invented Venus. His anger at her is too strong for that. She seems entirely too tangible. There are a number of important hints in the foregrounding of Venus suggesting who she was. The first clue is that she is blond, "with her windy sighs and golden hairs." Later she is cast as the "fair breeder," i.e., the equestrian breeder. "Fair" reenforces her blondness.

Sometime he trots, as if he told the steps,

With gentle majesty and modest pride;

Anon he rears upright, curvets, and leaps,

As who should say, "lo thus my strength is tried;

And this I do to captivate the eye

Of the fair breeder that is standing by.

Unless we are to suppose the poet has introduced a third character into his narrative, Venus must be the "fair breeder" standing by. Now it turns out scholars know of a "fair" or "blond" equestrian breeder in Kent who was closely connected to Marlowe and later, by inference, to Shakespeare. They also know she bred precisely the same breed of horse that Adonis and Venus rode, i.e., the highly prized and perfectly gated Spanish Jennet:

But lo from forth a copse that neighbors by,

A breeding Jennet, lusty, young, and proud,

Adonis' trampling Courser doth espy;

And forth she rushes, snorts, and neighs aloud.

The strong-necked steed, being tied unto a tree,

Breaketh his rein, and to her straight goes he.

That woman was, as we noted earlier, Mary Sidney Herbert, the young and "wild" Countess of Pembroke, sister of Sir Phillip Sidney and the same person to whom Marlowe dedicated amorous Latin love poems which he attributed to Thomas Watson (Bowers, v2, 539.) This happened just a year before Venus made its appearance (i.e., in 1592). Aubrey comes even closer to calling her "golden haired" writing "her haire was of a reddish yellowe." (138) Period portraits of her establish this beyond a doubt. (See Nicholas Hilliard, Miniature, Victoria and Albert Museum, London) Marlowe’s dedication implies a connection between himself and the Countess (Bowers, V2, 534 and 539). More definitively her first biographer, the tattle-tale John Aubrey, reports that Mary, like Venus in this poem, suffered from what can only be classified as a perverse sexual appetite involving equestrian voyeurism of an extreme nature. Aubrey recalls that Mary

was very salacious, and she had a Contrivance [i.e., a device in love] that in the Spring of the yeare, when the Stallions were to leape the Mares, they were to be brought before such a part of the house, where she had a vidette (a hole to peepe out at) to looke on them and please herself with their Sport; and then she would act the like sport herselfe with her stallions" (the emphasis is Aubrey’s, 138.)

With this context firmly in mind, the blond Mary Sidney Herbert must have been the Elizabethan analog of Venus, whose "device in love" or "contrivance" the poet loathed, unless we are prepared to allow this perversion to be commonplace. It is important to mention that when one catches on to this dimension of the poem one notices the poet frequently alluding to Venus receiving vicarious pleasure from watching her horses mate. One might go a bit further, the language is such as to appeal to a patroness who enjoyed this odd activity. This appeal to Mary’s perverseness, while at the same time being something of a broadside against her, as we have suggested earlier, is not entirely unexpected. It is part of the guile or artfulness of the contriver. He flatters while he insults. And in doing so if one gives quarter to either, one has suddenly lost both.

Clearly the poet could not explicitly identify Venus as a "countess," there were only a few women with this title in England, but he could use a "catch phrase" that signaled or hinted at her rank. "Encounter" for example appears several times. Consider:

And on his neck her yoking arms she throws.

She sinketh down, still hanging by his neck,

He on her belly falls, she on her back.


Now is she in the very lists of love,

Her champion mounted for the hot encounter;

All is imaginary she doth prove,

He will not manage her, although he mount her,

That worse than Tantalus' is her annoy,

To clip Elysium and to lack her joy

Like it or not, he nevertheless seems to have been involved with her over a long period of time in what is properly known as a "love/hate" relationship, somewhat similar to the one dramatized in Taming of the Shrew. Two minor points need to be addressed. Mary was just three years older than Marlowe, however three years is one fifth older when one is fifteen. Clearly Mary would have been wiser and more worldly in these matters, particularly after two years of marriage to Lord Pembroke, assuming his problem to have been infertility and not impotence. Importantly those two years had not produced an heir. Mary was no fool and in the days before fertility clinics, a woman’s only recourse was, shall we say, to resort to discrete non medical means. In the lines quoted above Adonis has rejected Venus, but then Adonis was an imaginary person, as was Venus and we are more interested here in the real persons represented by these figures, who we take to be the poet and Mary Sidney Herbert. These lines are a perfect example of how the poem seems devised to appeal to someone who relishes such images in a private and sexual fashion.

We shall now discover additional evidence connecting the poem to Mary, Marlowe and young William Herbert. We find this confirmation in the very curious and generally unremarked upon promise that Venus makes to the narrator of the poem. The pledge is of a future patron:

Venus salutes him with this fair good morrow:

"Oh thou clear god, and patron of all light,

From whom each lamp and shining star doth borrow

The beauteous influence that makes him bright,

There lives a son that sucked an earthly mother,

May lend thee light, as thou dost lend to other."

Venus cannot be addressing Adonis, who shortly dies. Her address falls to the poet/narrator. It proves confidently and unambiguously the promise of future patronage from "a son that sucked an earthly mother." Mary Sidney Herbert did nurse a son who became the poet’s patron. William Herbert, the Third Earl of Pembroke. What is important for our note is that Herbert was Marlowe’s patron, as we learn from the title page of Marlowe’s Edward II.

This title page, which would certainly have been disputed by Pembroke if it were false, proves a direct link between Herbert and Marlowe, a connection reinforced by Marlowe’s dedication to Mary Sidney Herbert of Watson’s poems.

In addition to this, part of the veiled foregrounding of the poem concerns its entry in the Stationers’ Registry. That historic day fell on 18 April 1593, O.S. Not simply any day but the 13th birthday of young William Herbert. Herbert was born on 8/18 April 1580 (OS/NS) as reported by Hannay. Unlike the consensus holders we suspect the registration dates of these works to have been intentional. We do not plan to argue the point here, merely to point it out. Indeed Shakespeare’s and Marlowe’s last known works, Two Noble Kinsmen (1634) and The Maiden’s Holiday (1654) appeared on that same day 41 and 61 years later, or well within a human life span. These three registrations suggest both a connection and an author who traced dates of importance to himself, his patrons and his works. Edward II, for example, entered on 6 July 1593, just a month or so after Marlowe’s official date of death, however, it was also the day in history the play opened on. Edward III frequently said either Marlowe’s or Shakespeare’s, enter on 1 December 1595 or on the same day Edward assumed power on, Mortimer having been executed on 30 November. Midsummer Night’s Dream, which features Theseus as the ranked character, entered on 8 October 1600 or the day North’s translation of Plutarch gives for the highest Athenian holiday in Theseus’ honor. (56) No accident, we suggest.

As for the Pembroke patronage of the author’s trifles in the past, the First Folio is explicit about this connection, a connection scholars have yet to document, unless Marlowe was Shakespeare, that is:

The First Folio’s Dedication to the Herbert brothers attesting to their former prosecution of the author’s "trifles" "with so much fauour" while the "Author liuing."

While it lies outside the scope of this paper to argue for Marlowe’s authorship of the Sonnets, we must point out that both Mary Sidney Herbert and William Herbert have long been glimpsed by well respected scholars in those poems. Boas, for example, wrote that "there is only one name supported by tangible evidence—that of William Herbert, who became the Earl of Pembroke in January" 1601 (Boas, 118). Chambers, reversing his earlier opinion on this subject wrote, "if we are to look in the ranks of the higher nobility, it is Herbert, rather than Southampton, who affords the most plausible identification for Shakespeare’s friend" (Short Life, 130). Both Boas and Chambers knew this implied the poet knew Mary. Boas writes, that "beauty of person, which he inherited from his mother, the sister of Sir Phillip Sidney, who might truly be said in him to recall ‘the lovely April of her prime’" (Boas, 119). This was obvious to all who had known Mary during her April and Herbert while he was young. However Boas says nothing whatsoever about where, when and how the Author might been among this circle.

While Boas and Chambers were undoubtedly correct about this connection between the poet and the "pretty boy," it raises profound problems for the consensus view of Shakespeare’s life and, thus, has been nearly universally ignored by unity scholars. Consider the poet makes it perfectly obvious that "W.H." is among the higher members of the nobility. Which is why the poet is not of his station in life. This precludes Bacon and Oxford, from being the Author and it means we must search for "W. H." among the higher nobility. Moreover among the titled nobility of the period, the only titled peer with these initials (of the correct age) was William Herbert (Kinney, Titled Elizabethans, passim). The problem is how could Shakespeare have known Mary Sidney Herbert in "the lovely April of her prime" or spring? By the time of Venus and Adonis, Mary was already well into her thirties and it is supposed this particular sonnet dates to c. 1595, placing her in her precisely in her mid thirties. Of the two only young Christopher could have known Mary during her spring. The identification is thus exclusive: Mary Sidney Herbert was the model for Venus and the poet was Christopher Marlowe.

Let us now see if biography and history can elucidate this conclusion or, alternatively, shipwreck it on rocky shoals. How do we know where Marlowe and Mary were in 1579 or during the summer of William Herbert’s conception? Were they together or at opposite ends of the world? We know where Marlowe was because he entered the King’s School "at Christmas in 1578," in Canterbury, Kent (Urry,42). We also know it was the habit of these same young King’s School scholars to "ride to the hounds" on the nearby Kentish downs after boar, foxes and similar "creatures of the downs" (Pollak, 1999). We can do even better than this. Sir Philip Sidney, Mary’s brother, can be placed in Canterbury, at the King’s School in 1579 (Urry, 6). Sidney was there to meet John Casimir, the well known "leader of Protestant armies" and Mary proves with him (Pollak, 1999). Hannay in attempting to document the rather constant exchanges of visits between Mary and Philip writes,

He was at Wilton for extended visits in August, September, and December 1577; March through August 1580; December 1581 and February 1583. He was at Baynards Castle at least in 1579, 1581 and 1584, and he undoubtedly made other visits. In April 1578, the Earl of Pembroke, (and probably the Countess) went to Penshurst and were entertained by Sir Philip with ‘diuers gentlemen and neighbors of the County..[and] served with his father as host to John Casimir, son to the Elector Frederick III of the Palatine. (Hannay, 46-47)

All things considered, nothing could have kept Mary Sidney Herbert from interacting with John Casimir during his stay at Penshurst during the summer of 1579 and from visiting the Cathedral, England’s most holy site. This places her within yards of Marlowe, given the contiguous nature of the King’s School to the Cathedral’s environs.

Now all of this stands of considerable importance when we remember three things. First the poet appears to have had a unexpected sexual encounter with Mary, allegorized as Venus, and, second, Venus promises the poet the future patronage of an earthly son. Third, that son proves to have been William Herbert who did patronize both Marlowe and, later, Shakespeare. We are now in a position to ask what the poet’s relationship to the boy was? To pierce this veil we begin by recalling that the Sonnets, addressed to "Mr. W. H." offer readers 126 sonnets aimed at the poet’s "pretty boy." Various interpretations of what this means have been offered over the years, they run the range from homosexual lovers to just good friends, Chamber’s, as we have just seen calls him the "poet’s friend." As far as we know, we are the first to suggest the boy was more than a friend but less than a lover. We counsel the evidence identifies him as the poet’s illicit and estranged son.

It is only this relationship that makes sense of both the poet’s isolation and estrangement from the boy. It is only this relationship that explains why, over the years, years which obviously pass during this prolonged "cycle" of 126 sonnets, that the boy does not age, but remains a young man, for this is something which only happens between a father and son: the boy never ages. It is only this relationship which correctly shoulders the poet’s "bewailed guilt." It is only this relationship that would take "honor’ from William Herbert’s name were it known. Consider sonnet 36:

Let me confess that we two must be twain,

Although our undivided loves are one:

So shall those blots that do with me remain,

Without thy help, by me be borne alone.

In our two loves there is but one respect,

Though in our lives a separable spite,

Which though it alter not love's sole effect,

Yet doth it steal sweet hours from love's delight.

I may not evermore acknowledge thee,

Lest my bewailed guilt should do thee shame,

Nor thou with public kindness honor me,

Unless thou take that honor from thy name.

But do not so, I love thee in such sort,

As thou being mine, mine is thy good report.


The next sonnet, 37, is, if anything, even more suggestive of this circumstance,

As a decrepit father takes delight

To see his active child do deeds of youth,

So I, made lame by Fortune's dearest spite,

Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth.


How well the phrase "made lame by Fortune’s dearest spite," fits the circumstances of all illicit and, thus, estranged fathers. How well it fits Falstaff’s own circumstances visa via young Prince Henry:

[that] Thou art my son; I have partly thy Mother's

Word, partly my own Opinion, but chiefly a villainous

trick of thine Eye and a foolish hanging of thy nether

Lip that doth warrant me. If then thou be Son to me,

here lieth the point: why, being Son to me, art thou so

pointed at?


Let us consider now sonnet 32


Full many a glorious morning have I seen

Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye,

Kissing with golden face the meadows green,

Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;

Anon permit the basest clouds to ride

With ugly rack on his celestial face,

And from the forlorn world his visage hide,

Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:

Even so my Sun one early morn did shine

With all-triumphant splendor on my brow,

But out, alack, he was but one hour mine,

The region cloud hath masked him from me now.

Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth:

Suns of the world may stain, when heaven's sun staineth.


The only sensible interpretation of this sonnet is for "sun" to mean "son," otherwise the poet is enamored with Helios and alienated from him by "the region cloud," a rather overwhelming and nonsensical experience. Whereas if Sir Henry Herbert was the "the region cloud," the line lives and even smiles a bit. It is also the only proper meaning for "suns of the world may stain," i.e., sons. So we have lifted the veil. The poet, rightly or wrongly, but chiefly "on thy mother’s word," supposes himself the father of William Herbert. He also supposes Herbert’s future patronage has been pledged to him by Mary. The perfect plot for a lifelong love/hate relationship, between himself and Mary. It is a commonplace plot, repeated a thousand times over in the annals of an errant mankind. It explains all the puzzling loose ends scholars have struggled with for centuries. It has only been missed because it is impossible (or highly unlikely) these circumstances could apply to Shakespeare. That they could apply to Marlowe is now, we hope, perfectly obvious.

The historical Shakespeare married early and had a family, he lived quietly, made money and does not seem to have been involved in romantic disputes. When roped into the Mountjoy contention he could barely remember its circumstances (Chambers, SL, 148-54 ). Marlowe, on the other hand, was, in 1579, being skillfully groomed for the clergy. He never seems to have married. Yet his affection for Mary Sidney Herbert is obvious in his lovely dedication to her of Watson’s erotic poems. That Mary was several years his senior and far more worldly than he is as certain as these matters can be. Mary’s husband, Sir Henry Herbert, the Second Earl of Pembroke, was three decades her senior. She was married at age sixteen and, while her husband had been childless through many affairs and two marriages, she alone managed to produce him heirs. Mary’s fecundity has troubled many of her biographers, but not John Aubrey, who, citing extant local gossip among her still surviving staff, reported that Mary’s children were sired by her brother Sir Phillip Sidney. Hannay delicately alludes to this, but refrains from a quote which would make it explicit. Indeed while she indexes quotes from Aubrey numerous times, which she obviously valued, she managed to miss this all important reference (see Hannay, 149). While brother sister incest was and is common enough to make Aubrey’s finding possible, our suspicion is that it was Phillip Sidney’s page, young Marlowe who was de facto father. The positive side of this is we save the Herbert family from the taint of incest, but the negative side is we open our paper to its longest reach.

Before we attempt it, we point out we have placed Marlowe and Mary Sidney Herbert within a few yards of each other at the time of her conception of William Herbert, so we need not prove Marlowe was Sidney’s page. However we suspect the reader will see it stands well within the limits of reason, and thus ordinary biography, to suppose it. To do so we must introduce new evidence about Nicholas Faunt (Edward, 37). Faunt worked as aid de camp, confidante, attache and general man about town for Walsingham, Burghley, Anthony and Francis Bacon. A fluent linguist and pensman, Faunt proves a perfect example of what was being planned for young Marlowe. He worked as an international messenger, case officer and private secretary for all four of these important men. Faunt’s father (William) was the "singing man" at the Cathedral in Canterbury and well known to Marlowe and his family. William Faunt’s name appears as one of four who made the inventory of goods taken of the late John Gresshop in 1580, shortly after Marlowe matriculated to Cambridge. (Urry, 46) Gresshop was

Marlowe’s headmaster at the King’s School and owed John Marlowe, Christopher’s father, "16s, 4d" upon his death. (Urry, 47) John Marlowe wrote the phrase "reserved by me Jon Marlowe" along "side the sum of ‘16s.4d"" into the records (Ibid.), proving if nothing else that John Marlowe was far more literate than John Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s father (Schoenbaum). Faunt’s son, Nicholas, was a few years Marlowe’s senior and became the first Parker Scholar to attend Corpus Christi College, Cambridge on the scholarship Marlowe would later garnish as its most outstanding luminary (CMERC, 1999, 27-27). For years (see the DNB’s article) Faunt has been supposed, in error, to have been from Norwich. Canterbury and Cambridge records, along with his own papers, however, preclude this possibility (Ibid.).

What is important for our note is that Faunt was employed while at the King’s School in the service of Sir Francis Walsingham and, then, young Phillip Sidney as a page and "messenger." Faunt thus witnessed the St Bartholomew Massacre in Paris from the relative safely of the English House and its diplomatic environs. Indeed it was young Faunt who carried Walsingham’s highly secret diplomatic dispatch home to Queen Elizabeth I in his head (DNB). Faunt is thus all the proof we need to establish that a young Christopher Marlowe could have been used by Walsingham and his future son-in-law Sir Philip Sidney as a page, as early as 1573 and certainly as late as 1578. Marlowe would have been nine in 1573, which, as one understands these matters, was the right age. This duty would explain the "itinerary" of Marlowe’s mature plays, which parallel Sidney’s travels. It would also allow Marlowe direct access into Mary’s bedchambers.

Additionally the record proves Sidney took on a new page, Daniel Bachelor, who grew to be the famous lutist, at precisely this same moment, i.e., late 1578/9 (Duncan-Jones).for the most likely suspect, Fisher. Aliases were quite common, particularly in these matters. While we cannot prove it, Bachelor may well have been Marlowe’s replacement. First, the period of service, seven years, is about right and would have placed Marlowe in Paris with Sidney during the St Bartholomew Massacre, which he later writes about as if he had witnessed it. Second this grooming would explain half a dozen unanswered questions: where and under whom Marlowe received his earlier education, an education required for entry into the King’s School; why Marlowe proves absent from the Canterbury records prior to 1578/9; how Marlowe came to be placed in the prestigious King’s School and who paid for it, how Marlowe seems so well traveled. All questions Urry, Butcher and other well qualified, and regionally well placed biographers, have failed to answer. In addition to this is the, albeit, somewhat ambiguous literary testimony of Thomas Nashe, Marlowe’s friend and collaborator in Dido (Bowers). Urry, quoting Nahse, suggests young Marlowe was Nashe’s "Jack Wilton." Jack thrived as "king of pygmies at Wilton House," i.e., king of Pages at Mary’s chief residence, Wilton House, within sight of Salisbury Cathedral. (Urry, 95) This doesn’t prove Marlowe was Sidney’s page, but it certainly strengthens the possibility.

Can Venus and Adonis be dated in the customary fashion via internal allusions? Certainly. The only problem is the allusions place the poem so far back into the 1580s few, if any, consensus scholars have dared notice them. If there had been, for example, a major earthquake, followed by a series of significant aftershocks or a comet in 1592 all authorities would now agree the allusions to these events in Venus would conclusively date its composition to 1592/3. However these events took place back in 1580, thirteen years before Venus and Adonis was printed. The quakes in April and May and the comet in late October, early November. The earthquakes were apparently epicentered either in the channel. Indeed a tidal wave leveled much of Calais. They did significant damage throughout Kent, including cracking the West Naive of Canterbury’s famous Cathedral, just blocks from Marlowe’s home (Urry, 1988, 4). One of them (during the evening of 1May or the morning hours of 2 May) came with a memorable sonic boom, which the poet surely alludes to in Venus and Adonis: a king perplexed in his throne,

By their suggestion, gives a deadly groan.


Whereat each tributary subject quakes,

As when the wind imprisoned in the ground,

Struggling for passage, earth's foundation shakes,

Which with cold terror doth men's minds confound.

This strong aftershock was not heard, of course, in far away Warwickshire and indeed there are no records in Stratford that attest to it even being felt there, though there are scattered Warwickshire records of the major event on 6 April 1580. Consider the following lines in Tamburlaine:

shall make the mountains quake,

Even as when windy exhalations,

Fighting for passage, tilt with the earth. 1T239.


Surely these remembrances were spawned from same odd earth earthquake that roared thorough Kent in wee morning hours of May 1580. Now consider these two obvious parallels: "My boding heart pants, beats, and takes no rest, But like an earthquake, shakes thee on my breast." (V&A) "makes earthquakes in the hearts of men" 2T544. Again, we find the same thought. How could a Warwickshire poet have experienced this Kentish quake? How could he know the sound it made and the kind of "cold terror"

that grips the heart? (For more on this quake and its relationship to Herbert see Appendix One.)

Since April 1580 was the month of William Herbert’s birth and the comet appeared hard on its heels, Herbert’s birth, which we have suggested is alluded to by Venus emerges as a double temporal allusion to 1580. More over, scholars have not produced a single allusion or quote of or from any post 1580 literary materials. So the poem’s initial period of conception seems firmly rooted in 1580, well before Shakespeare is known to have been active in literary pursuits and certainly before he left Stratford.

On the other hand, Ule has dated Famous Victories, often assumed Marlowe’s first play, to c. 1576-77. (Ule, 1979, 7). Famous Victories openly sets in Kent and contains a leading role for a cobbler named John, the same name and occupation as Marlowe’s father. It is the generic source play of Shakespeare’s mature Henriad (Pitcher, 1961). The earthquakes and comet do not appear in FV, a good sign it predates them. They do however appear in Henry IV and in the curious manuscript of Henry IV, called the Dering manuscript, which has been argued, at great length and by numerous scholars, as the source of the two part version. (Craig, 1954, Ule, 1990, Baker, 1996) Importantly the quakes, comets and the cracking of church steeples are all tied up in Henry IV with the birth of Owen Glendower, who was chieftain of Wales. William Herbert was also chieftain of Wales and later president of the Welch Marches (as was his father and Sir Henry Sidney, Mary’s father). Surely all period audiences would have noticed the joke, though I have not noticed it commented on by a modern editor.

The equally Kentish Timon, ms., the source of Shakespeare’s later play of similar title, has been dated to the early 1580, based on many of these same allusions. In addition is the poet’s presence at "university" and his allusion to Drake’s return, securely dated to October 1580. Since the poet boasts of working on the "Elegies" and is taunted as a cobbler’s son, Marlowe’s authorship of this delightful play seems certain (Baker, 1998). Like Venus, Timon ostensively sets in Greece, fortunately the young playwright humorously alludes to the "cinque ports" and "the schools" of Canterbury. Dover and Faversham were "cinque ports" and the native homes of Marlowe’s parents, Canterbury was the city of "schools." This "foregrounding" easily establishes Marlowe’s early literary credits and strengthens the possibility he began work on Venus and Adonis late in 1580 or early in 1581. Or at a time when his embarrassment about Mary’s conduct was still emotionally quite vivid and his experiences of the earthquakes still fresh. We can without much difficulty trace Venus’s pledge of the boy’s future patronage to a later summer, perhaps as late as the mid to late1580s, i.e., at a period when he was a "boy" and not an infant. The poet "dovetailed" these events into the narrative story line and continued, after his fashion to "fine file" his lines until April 1593, when he turned his manuscript over to Richard Field.

Richard Field was a native of Stratford, surely a point in favor of Shakespeare’s authorship, but he just as surely never troubled himself to publish any of the plays and soon sold his rights to Venus and to Rape of Lucrece to another. Field has been firmly established as Lord Burghley’s publisher and Lord Burghley in turn has been firmly established as Marlowe’s master. (Kirwood, 1931, 1-32). It was Burghley, for example, who signed the Privy Council’s entail demanding Marlowe’s M. A. degree from Cambridge. Burghley was Lord of Wards and thus in charge of Arbella’s education, for whom Marlowe worked as "reader and attendant." Lord Burghley was also in charge of Southampton’s education and sent young Southampton to Cambridge where he overlapped with Marlowe (Rowse, 1965). Without a hearing, Burghley released Marlowe on capital charges when Marlowe was shipped back from Flushing by Mary’s brother Sir Robert Sidney in 1592, proving, as Nicholl concedes, Marlowe was working directly for Burghley (Nicholl, 1999, CMERC, 48). Burghley was also responsible for Marlowe’s prompt release from the capital charges leveled against him by the Privy Council on 18 May 1593 and, lastly, it was in Burghley’s "safe house" that Marlowe was allegedly slain on 30 May 1593 (Urry, Nicholl and Willison, 1999, CRERC, 51-5). So Field’s involvement as the printer of Venus and Adonis need not be linked to his presumed friendship with Shakespeare, it is more closely linked to his ties to Lord Burghley, Marlowe’s master. .

One last thread needs to be considered. The First Folio is dedicated to William Herbert and to his brother Phillip Herbert, the earls of Pembroke and Montgomery, respectively. A curious phrase calls them "an incomparable pair of brethren," one meaning of which is that the men weren’t true brothers. It is in this light the death of Mary Sidney Herbert, which came on 25 September 1621, comes into play. It is well established that Mary’s death corresponds to a hiatus in the publication of the First Folio (Greg, 1955, 196), a lacuna which lasted from October 1621 to November 1622 . Had it been held off in difference to her passing? Was she working on it as an editor? These questions have never been answered. But what is known is that none of the poems connecting her and William Herbert to "Shakespeare" appear in the First Folio. Which is a major point in this paper. If the poems were not biographic then their exclusion from the First Folio stands as senseless, not to mention economically foolish. Jonson’s Folio contained his poems and their presence greatly increased his status as English’s finest poet, an honor many now think was inappropriate. Had the poems been in the First Folio they would have profoundly heightened Shakespeare’s reputation (which is why they are now universally added to his collections).

However just as we have pieced together the tangled threads of the poet’s life and his hidden connections to Mary and William Herbert, Jacobeans, much closer to and more knowledgeable in these matters than even modern scholars, would also have gleaned their way into these deeply private matters, particularly Aubrey. So in a matter of speaking the fact that the poems were excluded from the First Folio is satisfying proof that they were loaded with biographic materials which the Herbert family simply could not afford to have laid before the public. Materials which connected Mary Sidney Herbert and Christopher Marlowe romantically and suggested that Sir William Herbert, then the Earl of Pembroke, was their son. So these marvelous poems were excluded without even so much as a casual reference. And the gambit worked, for decades readers forgot about the poems and it was not until the 1700s that editors began to search for them in secondhand bookstores and hidden behind dusty shelves in muniment rooms.

Importantly this does not prove or even strongly suggest Marlowe was Shakespeare. That’s another topic and one many times more vast than the limits of this paper. What it does imply, and we suggest proves, is that Marlowe wrote, at the very least, Venus and Adonis. It’s indicative Marlowe also wrote some of the sonnets, since this one (72), for example, simply cannot apply to the gentle rustic, who lived a quiet and exemplary life:

O, lest the world should task you to recite

What merit lived in me that you should love

After my death, dear love, forget me quite,

For you in me can nothing worthy prove;

Unless you would devise some virtuous lie,

To do more for me than mine own desert,

And hang more praise upon deceased I

Than niggard truth would willingly impart:

O, lest your true love may seem false in this,

That you for love speak well of me untrue,

My name be buried where my body is,

And live no more to shame nor me nor you.

For I am shamed by that which I bring forth,

And so should you, to love things nothing worth.


The lines, "for you in me can nothing worthy prove; /Unless you would devise some virtuous lie," not only perfectly applies to an illicit father and son relationship, it also would apply nicely to a post 1593 Marlowe. However, as we have pledged, the paper’s sole intention has been to prove that of the two men, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare, only Marlowe could have written Venus and Adonis.

If a summary be necessary, only Marlowe commanded the classical languages and skills to have mastered the hidden background of Venus and Adonis. Only Marlowe could have known Kent well enough to have set its underlying locale there; only Marlowe could have known Mary Sidney Herbert in the late 1570s and early 1580s. Only Marlowe could have supposed himself William Herbert’s father, "chiefly on the word of thy mother." Only Marlowe is known to have been patronized by the Herberts during the period of the poem. Only Marlowe’s publishers complained (in the late 1590s) that his works had been pirated and were being sold in "St Paules" Churchyard under "false countenances." Only Marlowe’s unexpected public shame, which descended upon him, out of the blue, during May 1593, can explain why his name wasn’t on this marvelous poem, a poem that had been registered while his reputation was still at its zenith by his own Archbishop. Only these circumstances can explain why a separately printed dedication page was added to Venus and Adonis, after it had been printed. Only the biographic content of the poem explains why it couldn’t be included in the First Folio. Of the two only Marlowe could have know Mary Sidney Herbert well enough to know her "device in love" and only young Marlowe could have experienced it up close and personal. Of the two only young Marlowe could have been "damaged" by the experience and moved to "act it out" as the psychobabble will have it. So only Marlowe could have written Venus and Adonis. It is high time he was given the credit.

Appendix One

The unusual series of quakes felt throughout Kent and Wales in April and May 1580, so important to a fuller understanding of Venus and Adonis, seems to be firmly associated with the birth of Owen Glendower, who was Chieftain of Wales. The Pembrokes and the Sidneys were also Chieftains of Wales, in fact President of the Welch Marches. So any period allusions to Owen Glendower would have been a rather transparent allusion to William Herbert. In this particular case the allusion is extended and it is obvious that the Author is having a great deal of fun with it. Notice see here the remembrance of the "unruly wind" which the Author imagines has been imprisoned in the ground, just as he does in Tamburlaine and Venus and Adonis. The quote is from 1 Henry IV, but it is found, nearly verbatim, in the earlier manuscript of Henry IV, known as the Dering, which was discovered in Pluckley, Kent the village home of Marlowe’s major professor, Thomas Harris and has been dated by Ule and myself to the 1580s.

Glen. I cannot blame him. At my Nativity

The front of Heaven was full of fiery shapes

Of burning Cressets, and at my Birth

The frame and foundation of the Earth

Shaked like a Coward.

Hot. Why, so it would have done at the same

season, if your Mother's Cat had but kittened,

though yourself had never been born.

Glen. I say the Earth did shake when I was born.

Hot. And I say the Earth was not of my mind,

If you suppose as fearing you it shook.

Glen. The Heavens were all on fire, the Earth did


Hot. O, then the Earth shook

To see the Heavens on fire,

And not in fear of your Nativity.

Diseased Nature oftentimes breaks forth

In strange eruptions; and the teeming Earth

Is with a kind of Colic pinched and vexed

By the imprisoning of unruly Wind

Within her Womb, which, for enlargement striving,

Shakes the old Beldame Earth and tumbles down

Steeples and mossgrown Towers. At your Birth

Our Grandam Earth, having this distemp'rature,

In passion shook.

Glen. Cousin, of many men

I do not bear these Crossings. Give me leave

To tell you once again that at my Birth

The front of Heaven was full of fiery shapes,

This last line, "the fount of Heaven was fully of fiery shapes" has been dated to the peculiarly intense appearances of the northern lights that took place in 1574 on the evening of 14 November. We mention also the earthquakes of April and May 1580 did break steeples, including the west nave of Canterbury’s cathedral.

Bibliography with Annotations


Primary Documents, Letters, Manuscripts, etc.

Venus and Adonis, (1593) London. (Malone 325, Bodleian Library, Oxford.) Scolar Press Facsimile. (1973) and the original consulted 14 August 1988. This examination confirmed the dedication page had been added after the printing of the edition. Scanned above in the text.

Stonley Diary Account Book (1593) Folger MS. V.a.460. "12th of June, 1593. For the Survey of Fraunce, with the Venus and Athonay pr Shakspere, xxi.d." Scanned above.

Rape of Lucrece, (1594) London. (Malone 34[1] Bodleian Library, Oxford.) Scolar Press Facsimile. (1968) Provided confirming evidence the dedication page of Venus and Adonis was an addition to the printed text. Scanned above.

Norton Facsimile of the First Folio, (1623, London) see Hinnman below. Scanned above. Confirms Pembroke support for the Author and the custom of fair copies.

Folger Facsimile of Henry IV, ms., (1592-1621?) see Evans below. The original (V.b.34) was consulted in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C. 1983, etc. Turned up in Pluckley, Kent the tinny village that was the home of Marlowe’s major professor, Thomas Harris, M.A., Cambridge. (See scan below, with Carington’s ledger.)

The Second Part of the Life and Raigne of King Henrie IIII, ms., Sir John Hayward,

author, Folger copy MS G.a.12, 157 quarto sized pages of 33 lines each. Addition evidence the Dering ms., (above) which varies radically in its number of lines per page, was not a scribal copy

of organized materials.

Timon, ms. (MS 52 Dyce collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensignton, London.) Personal inspection of the original and photographed page by page, by the author, 1983. Also Proudfoot, G.R. (1980) Malone Society Reprint. A primary manuscript, it 1) established Marlowe’s 1580 productivity, 2) provides additional allusions to the Kentish quakes of 1580, (Baker, N&Q, 1998) and, because of the similarity of hands, connects him to the "Bruno"/ Walsingham dispatches of 1585/6 (Brossy).


The Famous Victories of Henry V (1595, 1598) London. The Case for Shakespeare’s Authorship of The Famous Victories with the complete text of the anonymous play. Seymour M. Pitcher, New York, 1961.

Edward II ms. fragment. (1595?) A 16th Century Italic Hand supplies a missing first page for Q1 of Edward II (1594), with half a dozen superior readings, suggestive of the author. A photographic copy may be consulted in the Marlowe Society Reprint prepared by W. W. Greg (1925). The author has misplaced his copy and thus cannot provide the scan. It is an Italic hand nearly a perfect match for the Arrian notes.

A cautionary note is required. Samples of hands cannot be used for purposes of forensic identification, as can DNA and/or finger prints. In any large sample of hands there are many similar ones since the process of writing is itself similar and limited to commonly accepted customs. There is also a well established similarity between the hands of family members. We would expect Marlowe’s hand[s] to change over the course of many years and the normal fluctuations associated with aging and the many various conditions of quill, ink and paper. One would not, however, expect to be able to say, conclusively, that a given similar hand was or wasn’t his. Efforts to do so have always proven inconclusive, if not foolish. We thus point out merely that three hands above are similar.

The Arrian Heresy Notes, BM, Harl. MS., 6848f.188/9. A Scan of which appears above. Establishes Marlowe’s Italic hand. Very similar to the one that drew up the plan of Corpus Christie College dated c. 1576 and showing Faunt’s rooms, scanned below. The ms. proves the hand was already being taught at Corpus Christie at the time Marlowe arrived there, i.e., in the early 1580s. This is

somewhat surprising since the hand did not come into wide use for another two decades or more.

See Elizabethan Handwriting Dawson and Yeandle 1966.

The Massacre of Paris ms. fragment, known as the Collier Leaf, now supposed Marlowe’s secretary hand by most authorities. We add it was not uncommon, at this period, for lads who first learned the secretary hand to acquire an Italic hand at their university, giving them two hands.

Sir Robert Sidney to Lord Burghley, 26 January 1591/2, from Flushing. A letter concerning the deportation of "Christopher Marly" who Sidney reports was a "scholar" and connected to "both the Earle of Northumberland and my lord Strange." S.P. 84/44 fo.60/61. This important letter was first published by R. B. Wernham, (April 1976 [English Historical Review] 344-5) and confirms Marlowe’s connections to lords Strange and Northumberland. Strange produced some of Marlowe’s plays and the "Wizard Earl," Northumberland, was a member of Raleigh’s circle or "school of the night.’ I have reviewed and photographed the dispatch. The fact Burghley released Marlowe without further ado has been taken by Nicholl as proof Marlowe was in Flushing on official matters for Burghley and suggests his deportation a ruse which afforded him "protective custody" and safe passage home. The mission seems to have concerned Arbella Stuart and Northumberland.

21 September 1592, BL Lansdowne MS 71, f.3. Personal inspection and transcription, August 1999. Bess of Hardwick to Lord Burghley. A fortunate phrase in the dispatch exclusively identified Arbella’s "Morley" as the poet, because it established damage he suffered "by the leaving of the university." The poet was the only "Morley" so damaged during the period.

18/28 September 1593. Folger, Vb, 308. Edward Whalley’s account books for the Countess of Shrewsbury. Personal inspection, transcription and copies. The ledger proved the essential link in establishing that Bess and Arbella were in London during the times Marlowe is known to have been there as well, thus making his identification as her "attendant and reader" certain.


21 May 1593 Lord Burghley to Robert Cecil, on finding an agent for Scotland, Wright, ii,

425, in Read, 484. (Ms. letter not yet photographed by the author, but twice cited and printed. It is used by Nicholl and Haynes as the basis for the conjecture that Marlowe was the unnamed agent and the reason why he was released from the Privy Council’s arrest and why he was in Burghley’s ‘safe-house" in Deptford on the night of 30 May 1593, i.e., he was awaiting transportation to Scotland.)

31 May 1593, LPL MS, . Personal inspection, transcription and photograph.


A Manuscript plan of the campus of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, Circa.1580, CCCC Archives, misc. no. 138, Cambridge, Personal inspection and transcription.


Sir Edward Dering’s Ledgers, containing both the order for a literary transcription of Henry IV, thought used by the publishers of the FF, dated 27 February 1622/2, along with the excited utterance, "two copies of I Shakesperes plays" recording the purchase of that Folio in 1623. I have reviewed this important document in the Maidstone Archives and photographed it in August 1988. See Lennam, T. S. "Sir Edward Dering’s Collection of Playbooks, 1619-1624," Shakespeare Quarterly, 16 (1965) 145-53. Scholars suppose the recorder intended to write "two copies of Jonson’s plays" and then changed to "Shakesperes" without making a cross out or blot. Rather odd, I’d say.

Pad Mr Carington for writing out ye play of K Henry ye forth att 1d 0b’ p sheet a[n]d given hime 00 04 00

I am also grateful for my correspondence with Dr. Laetitia Yeandle, Curator of Manuscripts at the Folger, who, while we have frequently disagreed, has been more than helpful over a period of twenty years. (See her essay, "The Dating of Sir Edward Dering Copy of ‘This History of King Henry the Forth," [ms.] Shakespeare Quarterly, 37, 1986. Yeandle concludes, against the evidence she cites, that Dering’s order dated 27 February 1622/23 was for D, i.e., this manuscript. This seems a doubly curious conclusion since not only did Carington not prove the transcriber, but Dering’s ledger specifically states he paid Carington "1d 0b per sheet," a calculation that does not balance with the extant 55 sheets of D. (Yeandle calculates out to a 64 sheet manuscript, taking "Ob" to mean 1/2d. If Ob means "Ob," then the paid for presentation style manuscript ran to 92 sheets. There is some internal evidence for this, since the sheets within D which evidence the fewest number of lines per sheet are the "presentation style" sheets (f.10), a manuscript which was uniform in its lines per page would nearly double the size of D.) Moreover since the extant ms. varies in its lines per sheet by a factor of 100%, i.e. from 27 lines to 54, it seems implausible a copyist would reduce his enumeration by half by doubling the number of lines per sheet. In all likelihood Carington either transcribed out D, i.e., this manuscript, the copy of which is now lost, or made a literary transcript of Henry IV, Part Two, which was used that year for the publication of the First Folio, the copy of which is now lost (See Prosser, 1981, below). This manuscript, D, however, cannot be the one Dering paid Carington for, based both on simple calculation and more technically the variegated nature of the pages. Surely Dering, paying by the sheet, would have required them all to be uniformly good, as are fols. 10 and 11. Returning to Lennam, his essay proves invaluable for establishing that someone closely associated with Sir Edward Dering not only called himself Shakespeare in 1623, but maintained the largest private collection of play-books ever discovered from the period, over two hundred and fifty in number.

The Will of Katherine Benchkin of Stour Street, Kent Archives Office PRC 16/36. Inspected at Mainstone, 1983,1988 and 1998. The will links Marlowe to the village of Pluckley, Kent where the manuscript of Henry IV surfaced. It also establishes Marlowe was in Canterbury in November 1585 at the same time Giordano Bruno leaving England (Bossy, 1991).

The Will of Samuel Carington, Kent Archives Office (Reg. PRC 16/232 bdl 37) which proves the extant Dering copy of Henry IV, ms. was not transcribed by Carington, Dering’s copyist and rector in nearby Wootton. Personal inspection and copies of it and his church ledger, (U3/136/1/1 f.43) housed with Anglican dioceses records in Canterbury, under the personal supervision of Anne Oakly, archivist, who generously made these records available to me on short notice in August 1988, confirmed the will as a holograph. The will helped established the earlier provenance of the manuscript suggesting a date earlier than either printed quarto. (The manuscript is a unified version of Henry IV, containing 90% of Part One and 30% of Part Two. See Baker, 1996, Elizabethan Review, below.)

The Will of Christopher Morley, Trinity Scholar, proven April 1596, on file with his college. Inspected and photographed in August 1998. It proves this man died before he supposedly entered Valladolid on 20/30 May 1599 and was reported there by William Vaughan in a dispatch from Pisa dated 4/14 July 1602. (Hotson) Important for establishing the likelihood of the poet’s post 1593 survival. It was witnessed by Hugh Holland, then a Trinity Scholar and later responsible for a

eulogy to Shakespeare added to to the First Folio’s prefatory advertisements.


Pentecost 1580, "At Wilton This Whitsondai..." in Osborne, Young Philip Sidney, 537,540. This correspondence helps establish Mary’s location in 1579/80.

No Date, Mary Sidney to the Earl of Leicester, Dudley Papers II, f. 187 Longleat.

The Corpus Christie BUTTERY BOOK, see Urry, Wraight and others, proves Marlowe was absent in November 1585, when he witnessed the Will of Goodwife Benchkin and was also absent the next spring while Bruno traveled to Paris and beyond. (Wraight, 352 for a photograph of this important document.) Vaughan’s Letter to the Privy Council, reporting "Christopher Morley" at Valladolid in 1602, dated 4/14 July 1602 from Pisa. Salisbury MSS., xii (1910), 211,212.  Inspected on site, August 1999. It is interesting this letter was preserved among

Cecil’s papers, as if it had to do with one of his agents. (Hoston, 1925) Below is Hoston’s

printed version: This is the Marlowe I have proven died in April 1596, his will proved and recorded at Trinity College, Cambridge. His nearly illegible signature on the will indicates the severity of his illness.  Which of the two dead Cambridge Marlowes turned up at Valladolid?


Secondary Sources:

Aubrey, John. (1949 ed.) Brief Lives, London. Close to the source.

(1685/1969 reprint) Aubrey’s Natural History of Wiltshire, New York.

Bakeless, John. (1943) The Life of Christopher Marlowe, 2 vols. London. Still useful.

TSL, 1944, London. Deals with Bakeless’ discovery of a manuscript note of Thomas Harriot recounting an excited and lengthy conversation he had with Marlowe about the "plain sphere" or map technique. Harriot gifted Marlowe a horse and a riding habit. Has not been followed up on by other scholars and came after the publication of his life of Marlowe.

Baker, J. (1983) "Marlowe’s Authorship of Henry VI," First International Conference on

Marlowe, University of Sheffield.

(1988) "Marlowe or Chapman? Stylometric Evidence for One Voice in Hero and Leander," Second International Conference on Marlowe, Oxford.

(1988) "Pace: A Test for Authorship Based on the Rate New Words Enter an

Author’s Text," Literary and Linguistic Computing, Oxford. Shows Marlowe and Shakespeare had similar T/trs and that only one person was involved in writing each individual play, i.e., no evidence for a second voice which would be reflected by an increased number of Types.

(1993) "Marlowe and Roger Manwood," for the Quatercentenary Commemoration, Canterbury, England, 30 May. Explored the double meanings in Marlowe’s Latin eulogy to Manwood.

(1994) Editor, William Shakespeare and John Fletcher Cardenio or The

Second Maiden’s Tragedy, Charles Hamilton, Lakewood. Suggests a recovery of Cardenio.

(1996) "Found: Shakespeare’s Manuscript of Henry IV," Elizabethan Review, New York, Spring vol. 4, no.1. 14-46.

(1996) "Thomas Hammon and Marlowe in the Jew of Malta," Notes and Queries, Oxford, vol. 241, no. 3. (September) 306. Proves the 1633 edition was

dedicated to Marlowe’s classmate from the King’s School. Indicative of

Marlowe’s survival, since a lifelong friendship between Heywood and Hammon or Hammond has been excluded on biographic grounds.

(1997) "Was Christopher Marlowe Arbella Stuart’s ‘Attendant and Reader’?", Notes and Queries, Oxford, vol. 242, no. 3, (September) 367-8. Proved the point "exclusively."

(1997) "Translator of Conestaggio’s Histoire...Marlowe "Notes and Queries, Oxford, vol. 242, no. 3, (September) 368. Showed Blount was not the translator and suggested Marlowe.

(1998) "Towards A New Date and Suggested Authorship for the Timon, ms.," Notes and Queries, Oxford. vol. 243, no. 3, September, 300-302.

(2001) Hoffman Essays, 1-12, Seattle. Established the case for Marlowe’s authorship of this important source play of Shakespeare’s.

(1998) The Case for Christopher Marlowe’s Authorship of the Works Attributed to William Shakespeare, Chicago. A fifty page pamphlet on the question published for the Marlowe Society of America and distributed at the 4th International Conference. Posted on the

web site.

(1998) "Marlowe’s Authorship of the Timon, ms.," The Fourth International Conference on Marlowe, Cambridge.

(1999) "Faunt found in Dover, Kent..." Personal discovery made among the Bacon papers in the Lambeth Palace Library, London.

(2001) "Marlowe’s Authorship of Othello and the Post 1621 Changes," presented

to the Fifth Annual Edward de Vere Studies Conference, Concordia University, Portland, Or.

(2001) Marlowe/Shakespeare School of Thought Emporium, a large web page containing over fifty essays on this topic with many scans of primary materials, including this essay:

1999-2001 over one thousand letters and essays on this topic posted in/on Humanities Literature Authors Shakespeare (hlas).

2001 in Much Ado About Something, Mike Rubbo’s Documentary on the Marlowe Question, 90 minute B.B.C. special. In progress.

Notes, Recordings and Film taken during Baker’s Discussions on Marlowe’s Authorship before the Shakespeare Round Table, in 1985, 1993,1997 and 2001. Beverly Hills.

2001 An Interview With John Baker on Marlowe’s Authorship of Shakespeare’s Works, David More, producer/film maker. 2 hours and 30 minutes, VCR. Copies available upon request

from CML Productions,

Collected Essays of John Baker in the Marlovian. David More, Editor. (2001)


Bate, Jonathan. (1997) Shakespeare and Ovid, Oxford.

(1997) The Genius of Shakespeare, London.

(2001) in Much Ado About Somthing, Mike Rubbo’s BBC documentary on Marlowe.

Bloom, Harold. (1998) Shakespeare Invention of the Human, New York.

Boas, Frederick S. (1902) Shakspere and his Predecessors, New York.

(1940) Christopher Marlowe: a bibliographical and critical study, Oxford.

Bowers, Fredson. (1973) The Compete Works of Christopher Marlowe, 2 Volumes, Cambridge.

Bossy, John. (1991) Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair, Yale. While Bossy does not suppose it Marlowe’s presence in Canterbury in November 1585 suggests he was traveling with Bruno, as Walsingham’s mysterious agent Henry Faggot. Marlowe proves absent from Cambridge the next term, as well, indicating he traveled with Bruno to Paris. One of the letters of "Faggot" jokes with Walsingham in a cipher the key of which "Faggot" sends in the clear. It is, according to Paul Pollak, King’s School Archivist, a King’s School cipher, that would have been well known to young Marlowe. "Faggot’s" letters and spelling suggest him English with a reasonable aural command of Italian, French and Spanish.

Cantelupe, Eugene B. (1963) "An Iconographical Interpretation of Venus and Adonis, Shakespeare’s Ovidian Comedy," Shakespeare Quarterly, XIV, 148.

Chambers, Sir Edmund. (1956) A Short Life of Shakespeare with the Sources, Oxford. Still quite useful.

Contains a transcription of the Mountjoy Deposition which shows the actor to be in failing memory

at age 47 and speaking like a rustic. It is worth nothing that Schoenbaum does not print a transcript of the important document in his biography of Shakespeare, though he does give us

a facsimile of what is for most readers a completely unreadable original. One of the problematic

things about this whole matter is that Shakespeare did not reply to these questions in writing.

The indication is that he wasn’t capable. Essential also because it is here that Chamber’s

indorses the view that William Hebert was the poet’s Pretty Boy.

Cheney, Patrick. (1997) Marlowe’s Counterfeit Profession Ovid, Spenser, Counter-Nationhood, London. Watershed book. Canon spanning.

Clark, Peter. (1997) English Provincial Society from the Reformation to the Revolution: Religion, Politics and Society in Kent 1500-1640. Rutherford. Required reading. Refutes the consensus

opinion that illiteracy was common among Elizabethan women. In fact in household where the father was literate the daughters were almost always literate.

Craig, Hardin. (1956) "The Dering Version of Shakespeare’s Henry IV," Philological

Quarterly, XXXV (April) 218-19. Craig’s first notice that D represents a pre-quarto copy of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, "when it was one part, not two." Evans and William misquoted from this article in their Folger facsimile of the play and have refused to correct it. Their phrasing suggested that Craig supported their view of dependency on the printed text, whereas in fact Craig held to the independence and pre-quarto nature of D. See his The Late Quartos of Shakespeare and Hamlet the First Quarto, for fuller discussions of this by Craig, suggesting he had been placed "in danger [for] we are both responsible for published disagreement with great scholars whose standing as scholars ...we. profoundly respect." Craig went on to point out that he had only facts, not theories to offer, whereas the great scholars of Shakespeare stand upon theories not facts.(i) Hamlet The

First Quarto 1603, Albert B. Weiner and Hardin Craig, Great Neck, 1962. Craig spoke of growing "weary of arguing against error" and his reputation has been savaged by consensus scholars who have refused to consider his facts. I might use this opportunity to point to a rather curious duplicity at the Folger. It has been quite active in casting the Dering ms. as disingenuous, contrary to Craig’s discoveries. It seems quite irregular for an institution that holds a document to take a public opinion on its authenticity, one way or the other. It is entirely proper for the Folger authorities to hold a private opinion on items in their own collection, however any public opinion seems certain to be colored by the intimate association with the holding institution. In this case it has cost untold millions in publicity and prestige for the Folger, which could be holding

the world’s most sought for document: an authentic Shakespearian manuscript. However thanks

to the continued support of the Folger’s curators for the dependency view the ms. has been depreciated to a mere curiosity. This opinion, I must point out springs from the fact that were D authentic it would disprove many well established consensus opinions. At the same time it would buttress a major point made by the anonymous editors of the First Folio, namely that the Author did produce "authorial fair" copies of his plays, as evidenced by D. In this it would support Pollard’s arguments, which Greg rejected for want of a "fair copy" exemplar. Greg, we must remember, rejected D as a "fair copy" because Shakespeare did not produce "fair copies." (Greg, Editorial Problems, 95) "What Pollard’s argument lacks is a connecting link:...evidence that Shakespeare sometimes made fair copies of his plays..." D is such evidence but it is being suppressed because it challenges the theories of the consensus holders.



This is the William and Evans confused cite of Hardin Craig’s essay, which in my opinionmay be attributed to faulty phrasing, rather than duplicity. However they and the Folger have repeatedly refused to correct the ambiguity.(viii)

Dawson, Giles and Yeandle, Laetitia [ne. Kennedy-Skipton] (1966) Elizabethan Handwriting 1500-1650

A Manual, New York. Remains the best guide to paleographic studies of English hands. One should mention both members of the venerable Dawson and Yeandle team have engaged in improper forensic identifications, which, as I have pointed out above, are always inconclusive.

Durant, David N. (1978) Bess of Hardwick, New York. The best treatment of Bess.

Edward, D. L. (1957) A History of the King’s School, Canterbury, London. Necessary.

Provided the link to Faunt.

Evans, G. Blakemore. (1974)The Riverside Shakespeare, Boston. Folger Facsimile of Henry IV, ms. (1973) Charlotteville. An indispensable facsimile of this important manuscript. In an almost comic decision Williams and Evans who believe the manuscript was intended to be a transcript of Q5 (Part One) and Q(Part Two) have restored quarto readings in their transcript, hundreds of them "silently and without mention." A perfect example of how a paradigm influences the reality of those who hold to it.

Ganzel, Dewey. (1982) Fortune and Men’s Eyes The Career of John Payne Collier, Oxford. The landmark study exonerating Collier and establishing a conspiracy among consensus holders to withhold or destroy evidence that challenges the consensus view. A must read. Strongly suggests the Collier Leaf of the Massacre at Paris manuscript is authentic. I am deeply indebted to Ganzel’s friendship and advice over the years.

Grantley, Darryll and Roberts, Peter, (1999) Christopher Marlowe and English Renaissance Culture, Aldershot, England. A wealth of new information on Marlowe. A landmark book. Collected papers.

Gray, Joseph William. (1905) Shakespeare’s Marriage His Depature from Stratford and Other Incidents in his Life. London. A long overlooked book, cited by Honan and reprinted by AMS Press, 1973. Puts Shakespeare in Warwickshire at the time Venus and Adonis was being written in Kent. Gray suggests the two contradictory marriage documents relate to the same woman. However this is suggestive young Shakspere was too illiterate to notice, which is a curious fact, pregnant with nasty implications for the consensus view.

Greg, Sir W. W. (1955) The Shakespeare First Folio, Oxford. Indispensable.

Handover, P.M. (1959) The Second Cecil, London. Also fundamental.

Hannay, Margaret P. (1990) Philip’s Phoenix Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke, Oxford. Flawed by an early problem. Hannay imagined the Countess did not attend her brother’s funeral, even though period accounts and drawings show her there. She then misdated the Spanish Ambassador’s account of her return to the city as being several years after Sidney’s death, whereas in fact it was for Sidney’s funeral that she returned to the City. The Ambassador’s report

is wrongly dated in the CSPS, but can be easily surmised by his reference to the death of Mary’s

father , Sir Henry Sidney, which took place on 5 May 1586, his brilliant young son Sir Phillip followed on 17 October 1586. There can be no doubt then the Ambassador’s report was written

in November 1586, not 1588 as Hannay would have it. Mary was there to help in the arrangements for Phillip’s funeral. He calls Sir Henry’s death "recent." In an exchange of conversations and faxes I made Professor Hannay aware of these facts, but since the

point was of considerable moment to her understanding of Mary’s personality, which she viewed depended on two years of "self imposed seclusion," Hannay was reluctant to accept the evidence. The rest of the book seems well above average.

Harrison, G. B. (1952) Shakespeare the Complete Works, New York.

Haynes, Alan. (1992) Invisible Power: The Elizabethan Secret Services, London.

(1994) The Gunpowder Plot Faith in Rebellion, London. It is here that Haynes connects, albeit tenuously, Marlowe to the Scotland mission, "just before Marlowe’s sudden death in May 1593 he [i.e., Lord Burghley] may have been considering using him again." For a more thoughtful consideration of this insurrection see Mark Nicholls, Investigating the Gunpowder Plot, London, 1991. In a personal interview with Nicholls at Cambridge in August 1998 this same subject was discussed with much the same result. There remains a strong suspicion Marlowe was slated as the Cecils agent for this particularly sensitive mission. This becomes important when we notice Shakespeare’s plays contain diplomatic intelligence relating to James VI, suggestive of the Author’s completion of this mission. The plays include, Hamlet, Midsummers Night’s Dream and Macbeth. See Winstanley, Lillian (1921, reprinted 1970) Hamlet and the Scottish Succession, Cambridge (1921) New York (1970). Since the book runs counter to the

consensus view, she was maligned by an anonymous TLS review, despite the fact she was a well credentialed professor thoroughly versed in this subject. The overview indicates she was correct. This same view hints that Marlowe was deeply involved in what

are properly called dynastic or successional affairs. Since it is known this mission to

Scotland opened the door between James VI and the Cecils and thus prevented a civil war over succession it strategic importance is certain. There is no question that Shakespeare’s plays dramatize the horrors of England’s last civil war, the War of Roses or that Marlowe was working on a translation dealing with the civil wars of Rome.

Herman, Judith L. (1992), Trauma and Recovery, New York. The watershed book on

child abuse and its long term effects.

Hinnman, Carl. (1968) Norton Facsimile The First Folio of Shakespeare, London. Indispensable.

Honan, Park. (1998) Shakespeare A Life, Oxford. Poor.


Honigmann, E.A.J. (1985) Shakespeare the ‘lost years,’ Totowa. Imaginative.

Hoston, J. Leslie. (1925) The Death of Christopher Marlowe, London. Mandatory.

Kirwood, A.E.M. (1931) "Richard Field, Printer, 1589-1624," The Library, vol. XII,1, London. Excellent.

Kinney, Arthur F. (1973) Titled Elizabethans, Hamden. Useful, Proves "W.H." was William Herbert.

Kozlenko, William. (1974) Disputed Plays of William Shakespeare, New York. Necessary, but superceded by Ule for those with access to his concordances of the apocrypha.

MacCaffrey, Wallace T. (1981) Queen Elizabeth and the Making of Policy 1571-1588, Princeton.

Manning, John J. (1991) The First and Second Part s of John Hayward’s The Life and Raigne of King Henrie IIII , London. (Camden Fourth Series Volume 42) Required reading. Flawed by Manning’s acceptance that it wasn’t Shakespeare’s Richard II used at the Globe to incite the Essex Rebellion, Chambers says otherwise. Manning proves Part One was reprinted over and over with false dates on it, it documents the practice among period printers to circumvent the law and casts additional doubt on Shakespeare’s publication dates. Hayward’s arrest and life sentence, plus his later repatriation under James I, dawns into question Shakespeare’s immunity from prosecution, a question raised by Hayward himself, "men might safely write of others in the manner of a tale, but in manner of a history, safely they could not..." (1) Oddly Shakespeare’s "tales" appeared with title pages boasting them "true" histories and "tragedies." Which suggests they weren’t "tales." Hayward was born in the same year as Marlowe and Shakespeare (1564) and overlapped at Cambridge with Marlowe, a connection seems likely.

Miller, Robert P. (1952) "Venus, Adonis and the Horses," ELH, XIX. (1959) "The Myth of Mars’s Hot Minion in Venus and Adonis," ELH, XXVI.

Nicholl, Charles. (1992) The Reckoning The Murder of Christopher Marlowe, London.

(1999) "‘At Middleborough’: Some Reflections on Marlowe’s Visit to the Low Countries

in 1592," in CMERC. Here Charles Nicholl reverses himself about Marlowe’s behavior in the


Patterson, Annabel. (1984) Censorship and Interpretation: The Conditions of Writing and Reading in Early Modern England, Madison. A must read for consensus holders who seem to gloss over

Shakespeare’s "art made tongue tied by authority" line in the Sonnets.

Pitcher, Seymour M. (1961) The Case for Shakespeare’s Authorship of The Famous Victories, New York. A scholarly and necessary account of this play. Obviously the Kentish Marlowe was its

author and not the Warwickshire Shakespeare.

Pollak, Paul. King’s School Archivist, Interviewed by the author, 14 August 1999.



Price, Dianna. (2001) Shakespeare, An Unauthorized Life, London. A well documented book that roundly challenges the consensus view that the actor and the author were connected during the lifetime of the actor. Price shows, unequivocally, this wasn’t the case. She also demonstrates that this was not the case for most other authors of the period, and particularly so for authors as well and widely known as Shakespeare. A must read.

Prosser, Eleanor. (1981) Shakespeare’s Anonymous the Folio Text of 2 Henry IV, Stanford. I am grateful to many conversations with Professor Prosser on this matter and her agreement with me that Dering’s order "in all probability" represented the version used by the printers for the First Folio. This opinion is based in part of the size of the "hole" or pagination error in the FF that suggests the publishers considered using the unified version rather than the two part version, as well as paleographic considerations of the extant ms. See (Baker, 1996, Eliz. Rev.)

Putney, Rufus. (1941) "Venus and Adonis: Armour with Humor," Philological Quarterly, XX, 548.

Read, Conyer. (1960) Lord Burghley and Queen Elizabeth, New York. A prerequisite.

(1925) Mr. Secretary Walsingham and the Policy of Queen Elizabeth,

Oxford. Essential.

Mr. Secretary Cecil and Queen Elizabeth, New York. Equally so.

Rowse, A. L. (1964) Christopher Marlowe His Life and Work, New York.

(1965) Shakespeare’s Southampton, New York. Rowse was unable to find any evidence connecting Southampton to Shakespeare, but does overlap him at Cambridge with Marlowe, at a time Marlowe was working with Burghley, who as Master of Wards, was responsible for Southampton’s education.

(1979) The Poems of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady: Slave Deus Rex Judaeorum by Emilia Lanier, New York. A most curious book of a highly heretical nature, which offers an astonishingly modern concept about the inheritance of "original sin," which fits in well with Marlowe’s earlier schismatic thinking. It notes sin enters the human race solely through the male bloodlines, as evidenced from the birth of Jesus, who John the Baptist said was born without sin, ergo sins enters solely through fathers. It is a rhymed iambic pentameter "translation" of the New Testament with the four books dovetailed into one. It was timed to appear along with the King James Bible, i.e., 1611, and focuses on the betrayal of Jesus. The author occasionally or inadvertently employs the male pronoun reflexively. It is strongly suggestive of a post 1593 Marlowe, since it is not very likely Ms. Lanier, an infamous courtesan in the court of James I, read Greek, held heretical opinions, fancied her [or himself] betrayed, or had affairs with a sizable number of the Ladies of the peerage including Queen Anne, as alluded to in its 13 (!) dedications. "Ms. Lanier" speaks of "her" travails as follows, "So that I live clos’d up in Sorrowes Cell, Since great Elizaes favour blest my youth." (44) This cannot apply to Ms. Lanier, who flourished openly under James I, but it would decisively apply to a 1611 Marlowe, living in exile. Which reminds us that the theme of Shakespeare’s final plays is the repatriation of the returning exile, as evidenced by Prospero in the Tempest.


Schoenbaum. S. (1975) Shakespeare: A Documentary Life, with the Sources, Oxford. Offers no evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship of Venus and Adonis, apart from the dedication page. Wisely rejects a Warwickshire locale, but says nothing about its underlying Kentish locale. Still the definitive work on Shakespeare’s life. Great style, a pleasure to read. Lucid. Like all consensus works it suffers from the fact it assumes a connection between the actor and the plays which

is not warranted. See Price for a fuller consideration of this all too pervasive shortcoming. While Schoenbaum mentions that Chambers supported William Herbert as the Pretty Boy of the Sonnets, he quickly moves on as if it were still an open question of little importance, such is the

nature of paradigm blindness.

Shakespeare’s Lives (1991) Oxford. A book about Shakespeare’s biographers.

Interesting, documents the exclusions of the poems and their rediscovery during

the 1700s.

Smith, Hallett. (1968) Elizabethan Poetry, Ann Arbor. Required reading.

Steen, Sara Jayne. (1994) The Letters of Lady Arbella Stuart, Oxford. Central. Quotes from Bess’s dispatch to Burghley mentioning Morley, but omits mention of him. In phone conversations with Professor Steen, she has been quite helpful. The dedication to Arbella in Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum seems suggestive of a surviving Marlowe, "Great learned Ladie, whom I long have knowne, And yet not knowne so much as I desired," since Ms. Lanier is not likely to have socialized with Lady Arbella, particularly, in the late 1580s.

Streitberger, W. R. (1986) Edmond Tyllney, Master of the Revels and Censor of Plays A Descriptive Index to his Diplomatic Manual on Europe, New York. Tyllney’s thousand page manuscript posses many problems. For example it seems to base on a command of seven languages and

the missing papers of Sir Francis Walsingham. Why was it suppressed? Why was Sir Lewis

Leuknor appointed as Master of Ceremonies over Tyllney in 1603? The Leuknors and Marlowes

have been long connected in Sussex and Kent. One of these names was a classmate of Marlowe’s in the King’s School and later Leuknor claimed Marlowe’s MA at Cambridge . (Correspondence with Oxford) Very curious stuff and the consensus’ failure to focus on Leuknor,

who produced many of Shakespeare’s plays for the Crown and is three times alluded to in the plays, is significant of a paradigm problem. Streitberger and I have been friends for nearly twenty years. He kindly offered me the task of editing one volume of the three planned volumes on this manuscript (Spanish), which time has never seemed to allow. He diligently proofed and made helpful suggestions for my article on the Dering manuscript (D). He kindly offered graduate level seminars on it at the University of Washington where he has become a major professor in English and occasionally Chair of his department. He is the editor of the Malone Society edition of the Revels Accounts and agrees with Ganzel and myself that no evidence of a Collier forgery can be found in these valuable accounts. Streitberger concurs that in all likelihood D precedes any Q.

For the Leuknor problem see scan:

Similar research of the Cambridge record has confirmed that no Lewis Lewknor or Leuknor attended, let alone graduated from, Cambridge during the period in question. On the other hand Marlowe did graduate from Cambridge and did attend the King’s School with a Lueknor.


Ule, Louis. (1979) A Concordance to the Works of Christopher Marlowe, Hildesheim. Essential. Flawless. A century spanning work. First to consider stylometric evidence for Marlowe’s authorship of Shakespeare’s works. Differs importantly from other studies which take samples. Ule used the entire canon of both writers and thus took no samples. These studies show Marlowe’s range included Shakespeare’s.

(1987) A Concordance to the Shakespeare Apocrypha, Hildesheim. Invaluable. Ule kindly mentions my work on the manuscript of Henry IV, which he classifies as the source play of the two part version. Ule was for many years my mentor and collaborator in my studies on Marlowe and has been much missed since his death. His study proves that stylometrically speaking, FV is more closely related to D than the two parts of Henry IV are related to each other.

(1990) Christopher Marlowe 1564-1609, Rolling Hills. Contains a full discussion of the early

nature of Famous Victories but is flawed with the notion that it might be John Marlowe’s rather

than young Christopher’s.

Urry, William. (1988) Christopher Marlowe and Canterbury, London. A landmark and watershed book.

Corrected many mistakes and has set the tone for current treatments.

White, Howard. (1970) Copp’d Hills Towards Heaven, Shakespeare and the Classical Polity, Hague. Axiomatic for those interested in understanding Shakespeare as a political philosopher in the mold of Plato.

Winstanly, Lilian. (1921) Hamlet and the Scottish Succession, Cambridge, New York (1970). Necessary for understanding that Shakespeare had access to highly sensitive diplomatic materials concerning

James VI, including the letters of Queen Elizabeth. We know Marlowe had access to this secure intelligence from similar materials in Edward II. It is not, however, easy to understand how

Shakespeare gained access to them.

Wraight, A. D. (1993) Christopher Marlowe and Edward Alleyn, London. Important.

(1965) In Search of Christopher Marlowe, London. Always helpful.

(1996) Shakespeare The New Evidence, London. Essential.

Wright, Daniel L. (1993) The Anglican Shakespeare, Elizabethan Orthodoxy in the Great Histories, Chapel Hill. Brilliantly written. Devastating to those who would suppose Shakespeare Catholic, Honigmann.

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