Friday, May 30, 2008


This Day in the History of Fatal Knife Wounds to the Eye

On this day in 1593, English literature took a hit when playwright Christopher Marlowe, aged 29, was killed in a barroom brawl allegedly over the bill. Marlowe was the 'inventor' of blank verse plays (used extensively by others, including Shakespeare) and his best work includes Dr. Faustus and The Jew of Malta (although Diomedes thinks we ought to call it The Jewish Person of Malta). It might have been a false hope that had Marlowe survived the knife blow he would have written more. His old roommate, Thomas Kyd, another playwright, had been arrested in early May and tortured for treasonous libel; as usual, the torture didn't work and Kyd said the offending material (a tract on the heresy known as Arianism--no trinity) found in his room was Marlowe's, who was under investigation by the Privy Council, but out 'on bond' while they sorted it out. Had it gone wrong for Marlowe his play writing might well have ended in 1593 no matter what had occurred in the tavern.

Kyd didn't fare so well either and though not executed for the libel, he was blackballed from further work and died the next year at age 36.


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