‘To enter upon the Marlovian stage,’ Emily Bartels writes at the outset of her fascinating account of strangeness in Marlowe, ‘is to enter a landscape filled with strangers and strange lands.’1 The alleged spy from Canterbury, the ‘Muses’ darling’ for his verse, as his elder contemporary George Peele dubbed him just after his death,2 has long aroused controversy among critics regarding both his character and his work. His brilliance as a writer, however, has never been doubted. Like many of his fellow dramatists in the second generation of Elizabethan dramatists, Marlowe was born to the ranks of the lower bourgeoisie, small tradesmen and craftsmen. His father, John Marlowe, originating from a little village near Faversham, in Kent, moved to Canterbury around 1556 and practised as a shoemaker. In 1561 he married Katherine from the Arthur family of Dover. Christopher, his second child and elder son, was educated first at small local schools, but in 1579, when he turned 14, he was admitted to King’s School, one of the most privileged schools in Canterbury. In 1580 he received another scholarship, from the foundation of Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he read the Bible, the Reformation theologians, philosophy and history, gained his BA degree in four years and his MA degree in 1587.
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