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Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlow was born on February 6, 1564 in Canterbury, England. He is well known for his own life and plays, but also for being one of the most noted contemporaries of William Shakespeare, who was born that same year.

Marlow (whose last name is also given as Marlow, Marlo, Merling, Merlin, Marlin, Marley, and Morley) was baptized at St. George's Church, Canterbury on February 26, 1564. In 1579 he entered the King's School at Canterbury and was elected a Queen's Scholar.I count religion but a childish toy and hold there is no sin but innocence.

In December 1580 he moved to Corpus Christi College in Cambridge. He was granted a scholarship, which was founded by Mathew Parker, with the understanding that Marlowe should study for the church.

Marlow was often absent for long, unexplained periods of time during his six years at the college. It later came to be believed that he was acting as either a spy or a confidential messenger for the government.

In 1584, Marlow received his bachelor's degree. He received his masters in July of 1587 with the intervention of the Privy Council. Also that year, his plays Tamburlaine Part One and Part Two were performed, and Doctor Faustus (a play about a tragic deal with the devil) was written.

Marlow had many scraps with the law, including one two week term of imprisonment after he and a friend were involved in a fight which resulted in his friend committing murder.

On May 12, 1593 Thomas Kyd, an old roommate of Marlowe's, was arrested because of his possession of certain papers with denied Christ's divinity. Kyd defended himself by claiming that the papers had actually belonged to Marlowe. An arrest warrant was issued by the Privy Council, and Marlow was ordered to serve the Council until they released him.

A further accusation of atheism was levied against Marlow by a Richard Baines. Before this matter could be resolved, Marlow was killed in a brawl by Ingram Frizer on May 30, 1593. In Frizer's defense, he was not the aggressor and the death was later ruled to be self-defense.

In his brief lifetime, Marlow wrote prolifically. His plays and poems included Tamburlaine Parts One and Two, The Jew of Malta, Edward II, The Passionate Shepard to His Love, Hero and Leander, and The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus.

Marlowe's life has created much comment amongst contemporaries and critics alike. The playwright, Robert Greene, for example, said that Marlow was an, "epicure, an atheist, and a Machiavellian." Marlow himself claimed that, "almost into every company he cometh he persuadeth men to atheism, willing them not to be afeared of bugbears and hobgoblins."

As an amusing final note, it is believed by some that Marlowe was not killed. They believe that he went into exile, and there penned (depending on who you ask) all, most, or some of Shakespeare's plays.

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