Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy

By Park Honan | Go to book overview

4

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

A Royston horse, and a Cambridge Master of Arts,
are two creatures who will give way to nobody.

(proverb)


The inland sea

LATE in the year, the roads in Cambridgeshire gave small comfort to a traveller: the sun shone fitfully, and white drenching mists and a chill might pierce one's clothing whether one sat in a carrier's wagon or rode on horseback. On his journey, Marlowe must have followed the Thames estuary, and had a sight of the capital or its environs before he came to lonelier roads. He would have passed Hauxton, beyond which the land rose before the Gog Magog Hills, and then, around December 1580, come into Cambridge in between the King's Ditch and the River Cam. Except for weeks of absence, he was to be at Corpus Christi College for nearly six and a half years.

In this period he knew a dance in which the steps he took were as bizarre as any modern choreographer could devise. The steps involved his nerve, friendships and commitments, and a rapid emotional, intellectual, and artistic development. He met regularly with a tutor, but fashioned a verse style of flexible power; he heard lectures in Greek and Latin but befriended a cousin of the spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham; and he took part in genteel and often polite 'disputations' to earn a Bachelor's degree, but became an agent in a calling which employed fraudsters and thugs.

His opportunities were good, and yet he was in danger of being tactless or over-confident at his college. The university imparted a deceptive

-71-

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Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Contents xi
  • Illustrations xiii
  • A Note on Conventions Used in the Text xv
  • Introduction 1
  • I - A Canterbury Youth 7
  • 1: Birth 9
  • 2: Petty School and the Parish 18
  • 3: The King's School 39
  • II - Scholar and Spy 69
  • 4: Corpus Christi College, Cambridge 71
  • 5: Into Espionage 106
  • III - With Shakespeare, Kyd, and the Ralegh Circle 157
  • 6: The Tamburlaine Phenomenon 159
  • 7: Doctor Faustus 197
  • 8: A Spy Abroad 241
  • IV - Sexuality and Reckonings 283
  • 9: The Keen Pleasures of Sex 285
  • 10: A Little Matter of Murder 321
  • Epilogue 361
  • Appendices 369
  • Notes 383
  • Index 405
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