Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy

By Park Honan | Go to book overview

8

A spy abroad

Danger's the chiefest way to happiness.

(Guise, The Massacre at Paris)


A room with Kyd

MARLOWE'S well-being, his career and living arrangements had been hinging on a need for funds. Apart from the spymaster's cousin, he had three known patrons after the Parker grant. One of them, Lord Strange, became wary of him, and neither the 'Wizard Earl' nor Sir Walter Ralegh, who had difficulties after an impolitic wedding, was likely to supply him regularly with cash. There was a shortfall in his expectations. Having bought weapons and smart attire he may not have lived above his means; but he had reason to worry. Near a brothel or a bowling alley, cheap rooms were available, and east of the Curtain were damp, underground dens in which one could live if funds ran short. If such arrangements did not appeal to him, he had to confront the fact, in 1590, that his best patron was in trouble.

After retiring to Kent, about a dozen miles from his office in the capital, Thomas Walsingham at first was prudent. But when sued for a large debt of 200 marks, by one Thomas Lund, he failed to turn up at the court's request and landed in the Fleet prison. 'Moved by pity', as the justices wrote on 27 May, 'we have pardoned the same Thomas Walsingham for the said outlawry.' Though freed, he had to find 200 marks, or £133. 6s. 8d., to pay off Lund (a sum equal to £67,000 or more today), and the debt suggests that his affairs were encumbered.1

With little aid from that patron, Marlowe looked to other sources. As

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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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