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),
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
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
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.
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
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
Here is the first recorded notice of its purchase,
dated 12 June 1593.
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
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
allow...it 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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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)
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
...like 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.
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 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).
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
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.
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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?
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
(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
(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
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
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, Marlovian@aol.com
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
Boas, Frederick S. (1902) Shakspere and his Predecessors, New
(1940) Christopher Marlowe: a bibliographical and critical study,
Bowers, Fredson. (1973) The Compete Works of Christopher Marlowe, 2
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
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
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
Craig, Hardin. (1956) "The Dering Version of Shakespeare’s Henry
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
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
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
Dawson, Giles and Yeandle, Laetitia [ne. Kennedy-Skipton] (1966) Elizabethan
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,
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
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,
Handover, P.M. (1959) The Second Cecil, London. Also
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,
(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
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,
Honan, Park. (1998) Shakespeare A Life, Oxford. Poor.
Honigmann, E.A.J. (1985) Shakespeare the ‘lost years,’ Totowa.
Hoston, J. Leslie. (1925) The Death of Christopher Marlowe,
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
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,"
Nicholl, Charles. (1992) The Reckoning The Murder of Christopher
(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
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
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 Editors...in 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,
Mr. Secretary Cecil and Queen Elizabeth, New York. Equally so.
Rowse, A. L. (1964) Christopher Marlowe His Life and Work, New
(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
(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
Interesting, documents the exclusions of the poems and their rediscovery
Smith, Hallett. (1968) Elizabethan Poetry, Ann Arbor. Required
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
Leuknor appointed as Master of Ceremonies over Tyllney in 1603? The Leuknors
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,
(1965) In Search of Christopher Marlowe, London. Always
(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,
to John Baker's Home Page.