Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy

By Park Honan | Go to book overview
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You see my lord, what working words he hath.

NEWS and rumours of Christopher Marlowe's violent fate in a brawl––and casual legends about him as a heretic or rake-hell–– increased the popularity of his plays in London. Even in their 1594–5 season, the Admiral's men staged the first part of his Tamburlaine fourteen times, and the second part six, Faustus twelve times, The Massacre at Paris ten, and The Jew of Malta nine.

At Canterbury, his parents John and Katherine had to come to terms with their shock and to learn to live with their recollections; but they gained no tangible benefit from his posthumous fame. In 1593 they were left with their daughters: Margaret, who was married to the tailor John Jordan, and her sisters Anne, then 21, and Dorothy, who was 19. (It is not known if their younger son, Thomas, was still alive.) Shortly after the playwright's death, Anne Marlowe married the shoemaker John Cranford on 10 June 1593. Since the old cobbler was a freeman of Canterbury, that status was automatically conferred upon his sons-in-law. Literate and skilful, Cranford paid 11½d. to be made free of the city, and rose to become one of the four serjeants-at-mace of Canterbury, with duties of making arrests and serving writs. Pregnant when she married, Anne in time gave birth to about twelve children, and lived to be 81. She was buried on 7 December 1652 (see the family tree in the appendices).

Dorothy Marlowe, in turn, was married to Thomas Graddell, on 30 June 1594. A glover, innkeeper, and hackneyman, Graddell was irregular in mood and behaviour. As landlord of the George inn, he did illicit deals in grain, received stolen goods, and tried to dodge payment of his debts. More than once, he and his wife were denounced for not attending


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