Monday, February 6, 2012

Christopher Marlowe: playwright, spy

It is the birthday of English playwright and poet Christopher Marlowe (1564), who is best known for his play Doctor Faustus, which tells the story of a man who sells his soul to the devil for knowledge and power, and Tamburlaine, which tells the story of a Central Asian emperor. Marlowe is considered by scholars to have been a great influence on William Shakespeare, who was his contemporary. Some academics speculate that while he was at Cambridge he was recruited to work as a spy for Queen Elizabeth I against the Catholics. Lengthy absences from school were for espionage work, they suggest. He was once arrested for producing counterfeit coins and some suggest that the arrest ended a spy operation in which he was involved. He died at age 29 when he was stabbed in the eye by a con man in the company of two other con men/government agents in a house later revealed as a center for spy activity.

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