Christopher Marlowe: Primary Sources

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Christopher Marlowe


June 29th, 1587 -- Privy Council Note To Cambridge Authorities

When Cambridge University tried to deny awarding Marlowe his M.A. because of excessive class absences, Her Majesty's Privy Council intervened on his behalf with an official letter.

To read this source, click here.


January 26th, 1592 -- The Flushing Letter

Marlowe was arrested and deported from Flushing (a Dutch harbor town) on the charge of counterfeiting English and Dutch coins. The charge was originally lodged by Richard Baines (a government spy). In this letter, Sir Robert Sidney (the governor of Flushing) informs Lord Burghley of the crime.

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March 19th, 1593 -- Charges Against Richard Cholmeley

The charges in this document primarily incriminate Richard Cholmeley (a government spy) as a traitor. However, they also implicate Marlowe as an atheist.

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May 5th, 1593 -- Dutch Church Libel

Between 11pm-12am a particularly violent libel was posted at the Dutch Church on Broad Street, London. The libel made frequent reference to Marlowe's plays ('The Jew of Malta' and 'The Massacre of Paris') and was signed 'Tamburlaine'.

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May, 1593 -- Thomas Kyd's Claims Against Marlowe

On May 12, Kyd's rooms were searched and documents "denying the deity of Jesus Christ" were found in his possession. Immediately, he was arrested and imprisoned on charges of atheism. Under pain of torture, he named Marlowe as the owner of the heretical documents and denounced Marlowe as an atheist.

Although Kyd's charges were lodged before May 30th, the original document has now been lost. However, this document is a transcript of Kyd's original charges and was made in 1593, sometime after May 30th (it refers to Marlowe's death).

To read this source, click here.


May 27th, 1593 -- The Baines Note

While Marlowe was still making daily attendances on the Court of the Star Chamber, Richard Baines supplied the Privy Council with a note describing Marlowe's "blasphemies".

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June 1st, 1593 -- Coroner Danby's Report

The official verdict of the inquest into Marlowe's death at Deptford.

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June 12th, 1593 -- The Business of Robert Poley

This letter, signed by the Queen's Vice-Chamberlain, certifies that Robert Poley (a government spy) was employed on government business between May 8th - June 8th. Hence, it offically silences questions about his detour in Deptford on May 30th where he was present at Christopher Marlowe's death.

The article specific to Marlowe's death is #16.  

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June 15th, 1593 -- Queen Elizabeth's Writ to Coroner Danby

Evidence of court interest in Marlowe's death.

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June 28th, 1593 -- Ingram Frizer's Pardon

Almost one month after Marlowe's death, his killer was pardoned on grounds of self-defense.

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