The Murder Mystery of Christopher Marlowe


Christopher Marlowe was an eminent English dramatist, poet and translator from the Elizabethan era. There was an arrest warrant issued for Marlowe on May 18, 1593. But there was no reason given for this warrant. It was thought that he was accused of blasphemy. He had recently written a manuscript which was seen as heretical. He was taken before the Privy Council and was left. But Marlowe had report to the council regularly. Only ten days after this incident Marlowe was stabbed to death by a person named Ingram Frazier. Many have doubted the connection between this stabbing and arrest.

 

Christopher Marlowe: One of the Greatest Playwrights of his time

There is little known about Marlowe and whatever evidence is present about this life are present in the legal records and various other official documents. Though information about this writer is limited but that has not stopped writers from speculating about the character and activities of Marlowe. There are various descriptions attached with Marlowe. Some feel he was a spy, heretic, homosexual, brawler, duellist, magician, etc. There is a lot of embellishment in all these claims. Writers have added their colours to truth.

 

Probable Grave of Marlowe at Deptford

Though historians claim that Marlowe’s death was a result of bar brawl rising from an altercation on who would pay the bill, but some critics feel there were political causes attached with this murder. Before his death the accusations such of blasphemy, homosexuality and subversion had ruined the public image of Marlowe. On charges pressed by his roommate and fellow dramatists Thomas Kyd, Marlow was also accused of atheism. Due to his radical views many critics feel Marlowe was secretly plotted and murdered by the Puritan sympathiser and agent of Elizabeth I, Francis Walsingham. Some others accuse Earl of Essex as the prime reason for murder of Marlowe.

 

Marlowe's Grave Plaque

It is a very significant fact that Marlowe’s murderer received pardon from the Queen. The charges pressed against Marlowe had punishments such as being boiled alive, hanged, drawn and quartered or burnt on the stake. Many feel Marlowe faked his death to get past these severe punishments. He is believed to have fled from the country and spent his days in hiding. Faking the murder would allow Marlowe a luxury to assume a new identity and he could well pass for another man as he had previously served as a secret agent. In fact the dead body of Marlowe was kept in secret and it was buried within 48 hours which is not normal for a murder.

 

Copy of Marlowe's Play in his own Handwriting

Though there were widespread speculations in regards to Marlowe’s true murder reasons but the true facts came out in 1925 when a coroner’s report on Marlowe’s death was found. Marlowe had spent all that day in a house in Deptford which was owned by a widow. There were three men with him namely: Ingram Frazier, Robert Poley and Nicholas Skeres. All these men had been employed by Walsingham. While later two helped Walsingham in capturing the conspirators in Babington Plot, Frazier was Walsingham’s servant. The eye witnesses stated that Frazier and Marlowe had a fight over who would pay the bill for their drink. The exchange got heated and   Frazier grabbed a dagger and attacked Marlowe. During the struggle dagger pierced through Marlowe’s right eye killing him on the spot. Later Frazier was acquitted on evidence of having acted in self defence. Marlowe was buried in an unmarked grave at St. Nicholas, Deptford.

 

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