Christopher Marlowe: Associates

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Christopher Marlowe

Edward Alleyn

Star actor of 'The Admiral's-Lord Strange's Men'. Many of Marlowe's principal roles were written especially for him.  

Richard Baines

A chamber fellow of Marlowe's in Flushing, 1592. He denounced Marlowe for counterfeiting and later delivered a series of charges to the Privy Council concerning Marlowe's alleged atheism.

Baines was a rector of Waltham Abbey Church, but he is chiefly remembered as a spy in Sir Francis Walsingham's espionage network. 

Eleanor Bull (Widow)

Owner of the meeting house in Deptford where Marlowe was killed. She rented rooms of the house out to guests and possibly served as a caterer to upscale parties.

A cousin of Blanche Parry, the Queen's Chief Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber. Parry's will left money to both Widow Bull and Lord Burghley, proving an indirect connection between the two. 

William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley

Lord High Treasurer and chief advisor to the Queen.

After Sir Francis Walsingham died, he formed his own spy network in rivalry with Lord Essex. He employed Robert Poley, and most likely Marlowe.

He was a member of the Privy Council.

Richard Cholmeley

A government spy, possibly in the employment of Lord Essex. He specialized in detecting and capturing Catholics.

On March 19th, 1593 a warrant was issued for his arrest on the charge of planning treason as the leader of a gang of 60 men. The charges against him also state that he believed Marlowe was an atheist and that Marlowe had delivered an atheist lecture to prominent government officials.

He turned himself over to the authorities on 28th June, 1593.

William Danby

Coroner to the Royal Household.

Since the Queen held court in Greenwich at the time Marlowe died, Deptford fell 'within the verge' (less than 12 miles from the Queen's presence). Thus, Danby officiated over the inquest and accepted Ingram Frizer's claim of self-defense.

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex

After Sir Francis Walsingham's death, he entered into a rivalry with Lord Burghley and formed his own circle of spies in service to Elizabeth.

He was a member of the Privy Council and had links to Richard Cholmeley.

Elizabeth I, Queen of England

A major fan of Marlowe's plays. She regularly had his work performed at court by 'The Admiral's-Lord Strange's Men'.

Ingram Frizer

Personal secretary to Thomas Walsingham.

A known schemer and con-artist in league with Nicholas Skeres. He participated in many lawsuits (as a plaintiff) and was convincing enough on the stand to win most of them.

Remembered as the man who killed Marlowe in a fight in a meeting house, Deptford.  

Robert Greene

A pamphleteer and playwright.

He bitterly attacked the modern trends in Elizabethan theatre, sniping at both Shakespeare and Marlowe. In 'Greene's Groats-Worth of Wit Bought with a Million of Repentance' he criticized Shakespeare as "an upstart crow". He also moaned about the "mad and scoffing poets... bred of Merlin's race" and labeled the character of Tamburlaine as an atheist. 

Thomas Kyd

A fellow playwright at The Rose. Author of 'The Spanish Tragedy', one of the most popular plays of the renaissance era.

Under torture, he denounced Marlowe as an atheist.

He never fully recovered from the trauma endured on the rack and died early (36 yrs old).

Thomas Nashe

A famous pamphleteer and poet. He was a fellow student of Marlowe's at Cambridge, and probably collaborated with Marlowe on 'The Tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage'.

He also wrote an elegy for 'Hero and Leander', now lost. 

Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland

Marlowe's patron.

Both his father and grandfather were punished for heresy (they were Catholics).

He was passionate about learning and amassed one of the largest libraries in the realm. He was also rumored to be a member of the 'School of Night', a circle of radical intellectuals that included Sir Walter Raleigh and Lord Strange, among others.

Robert Poley

A senior spy in the service of Sir Francis Walsingham (he served over 2 decades).

Frequently used as a messenger of secret documents to Scotland and the Low Countries. He participated in numerous operations, and was the principal spy involved in entrapping and capturing the conspirators of the Babington plot. Afterwards, he was promoted to operational chief in charge of a small spy network in the Low Countries.

Present at Marlowe's death in Deptford (although officially he was meant to be delivering documents abroad).

 Sir Walter Raleigh

A friend of Marlowe's through Lord Northumberland. He was widely thought to be an atheist and there are rumors that he and Marlowe conversed critically on the subject. 

William Shakespeare

Born the same year as Marlowe (1564), but lacked a higher education and took longer to develop his talent. He and Marlowe would have come into daily contact with each other as they both worked for the same theatre company ('The Admiral's-Lord Strange's Men') in the early 1590's.

There is evidence to suggest Marlowe collaborated with Shakespeare on the 'Henry VI' trilogy and 'Titus Andronicus'.

Shakespeare makes open reference to Marlowe in 'As You Like It'.

Nicholas Skeres

An accomplice to Ingram Frizer and a known thief and schemer.

Also a spy in the service of Sir Francis Walsingham, involved in delivering secret documents. He had a minor part in exposing the Babington Plot.

Present at Marlowe's death in Deptford.

Ferdinando Stanley, 5th Earl of Derby (A.K.A. Lord Strange)

Marlowe's patron.

An extremely wealthy and sociable patron of the arts.

Lord Strange's cousin was a traitor who tried to convince him to seize the throne from Elizabeth. Instead, he refused and unveiled the plot.

He died young (34 yrs old) in mysterious circumstances - many scholars think he was poisoned in retaliation for revealing the conspiracy against the Queen. 

Audrey Walsingham

Wife of Thomas Walsingham, Marlowe's patron.

Maiden name: Shelton - an old and distinguished family, indirectly related to Anne Boleyn (the Queen's mother).

Several of her relatives held positions at court, and she eventually rose to become one of Elizabeth's Gentlewomen of the Privy Chamber (a favorite). 

Lord Burghley's son, Sir Robert Cecil, was rumored to be her lover. 

Thomas Walsingham

Marlowe's patron and a wealthy landowner.

Cousin of Sir Francis Walsingham and involved in espionage work - first, as a messenger of secret documents; then as a middle-man between his cousin and rank-and-file spies. 

Thomas Watson

A renowned poet and playwright during the 1580's-1590's. He knew Richard Baines and the Walsinghams.

He assisted Marlowe in a sword fight in Hogg Lane, Shoreditch against William Bradley. He killed Bradley, but was cleared of all charges on the grounds of self-defense.

John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury

A notoriously intolerant Archbishop who led a vigorous campaign against religious heresy, particularly against Puritanism. He punished non-conforming ministers, executed numerous heretics, and publically burnt unorthodox texts (including Marlowe's translation of Ovid's 'Elegies').

He was a member of the Privy Council.

He was also Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, and undoubtedly played a role in the university's attempt to deny Marlowe his M.A. in 1587. 



Keefer, Michael. Introduction. Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus. By Christopher Marlowe. Ed. Michael Keefer. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Literary Texts, 1991. 

Kuriyama, Constance Brown. Christopher Marlowe: A Renaissance Life. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2002.

"The Life of Christopher Marlowe." Southwest College. 2007. Houston Community College System. 21 June 2007.

"Marlowe, Christopher." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 21 June 2007.

Nicholls, Charles. The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe. Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1995.