Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Stop Calling Shakspere "Shakespeare"

The following anonymous comment to P. Farey's essay "Prosecute it to the full" in MSC blog illustrates a key reason why it matters what name we use when referring to the Stratford actor.
"But I think you guys do need to recognise that *superficially* it sounds supremely nuts to say 'Shakespeare didn't write his plays, Marlowe did'. Because an obvious first reason for assuming authorship is the presence of the name on the title page. That's not a small, irrelevant, detail. It's pretty darn big and important. To suggest anything but the simplest explanation for that fact requires a very very good reason.

As it happens, you do possess some very intriguingly good reasons. And because the data is actually so good, if you confine yourselves to simply presenting it in as un-contrived and un-adorned way possible, it will sell itself, despite the obvious initial sense of 'wtf'?"
So if you love Marlowe and want his reputation and credit to be restored, then stop calling Shakspere Shakespeare!

The man from Stratford (whose name was pronounced Shakspur) never spelled his name that way and was never seriously thought to be an author of plays or poetry by anyone during his lifetime; nor was the possibility even hinted at in 1616 when he died. Not until the "rash enterprise" known as the Shakespeare First Folio was published in 1623 did the man from Stratford become identified as the pseudonymous author known as WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.

Similarly, the belief that Christopher contracted with Shakspere to be his front is nonsense. There was no need. The Earl of Southampton had Marlowe's back in the first few years, when the two classic epic narrative poems, Venus & Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, made the name "Shakespeare" famous. No plays were printed with name "Shakespeare" on the title page until 1598, (coincidentally the year Edward Blount gave Marlowe a proper literary burial in his dedicatory epistle to Sir Thomas Walsingham, but that's another story).

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fooled by the Folio

The paradigm is shifting. Current Shakespeare scholarship is catching on: "For many in the profession today, Shakespeare was not an author with a literary career but because constructed as such in the 1623 First Folio and then by subsequent generations." Shakespeare and Spenser: Attractive Opposites, Oxford U. 122 (page link)

This is because—during his lifetime—there is no evidence that Stratford's William Shakspere had a literary career. When he died in 1616 not a single literary tribute, nor epistolary reference, was offered by any contemporary poets; nor was there so much as a prosaic mention by anyone in the town were he'd lived most of his life. William did not become known as the author until the "rash enterprise" known as the Shakespeare First Folio in 1623.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Remembering Christopher Marlowe, 1564-1593(?)

Monday is Memorial Day in the U.S. ... Originally, the 30th day of May was set aside to honor those killed in the Civil War, but now its memory extends only from WWII to more recent conflicts.

To me (and most Marlovians) however, May 30 stands out as the official date of Christopher Marlowe's "sudden and fearful end" in 1593.

The phrase "Remember Christopher Marlowe"  on the plaque at King's School, Canterbury,  (shown here in 1993 with the great Marlovian scholar Dolly Walker-Wraight) was the theme of a  citywide memorial of Marlowe's passing 400 years earlier—and a celebration of his genius.

But did Marlowe die in 1593? Ever since Calvin Hoffman made an international splash with his book The Murder of the Man Who Was Shakespeare in 1955, many have come to doubt that claim due to the suspicious circumstances of the murder and curious facts regarding the inquest. Even more doubters were created by the pro-Marlovian documentary Much Ado About Something, broadcast in 2001. The next year, Marlowe's murder was further questioned at prestigious Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, where a plaque dedicated to Marlowe was installed with a QUESTION MARK before the date! The interrogative would have been better placed after his death than before his birth, but point taken.

So, on May 30, take a moment to remember "the muses' darling" —an atheist martyr whose early exit from life set the stage for his pseudonymous rebirth as the author known as "Shakespeare.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Marlovian poem wins 2nd Prize in "Bard Battle"

Last month, some lines excerpted from The Marliad (an epic essay in verse) won 2nd prize as a stand-alone entry in the Fort Collins, Colorado, public library's annual poetry contest. It wasn't quite as satisfying as winning the coveted Hoffman Prize, or another prestigious literary award, but it's a step in the right direction!

The Case of the Murdered Bard

To all you Shakespeare fans, I dare to say
The Stratford actor never wrote a play,
No way: Kit Marley (known as “Marlowe”) wrote
Four centuries ago the words we quote
From the collection called the Folio
Of Shakespeare Plays—and scores of Sonnets, so
Listen up! The evidence makes clear
That Marley used the pseudonym Shakespeare
Which worked out well for Mr. Will Shakspere,
Whose name got him a sinecure and share
Of ticket sales at the Globe Theater door—
Although not knowing whom he stood-in for:
The greatest poet of his time for sure.

None stood above Kit in dramatic art.
On top of that, he played a secret part
In England's anti-Catholic war: a spy
Who gave good service to the Queen, no lie.
But his belief in Jesus Christ fell short,
According to a sland'rous, signed report
Addressed to Privy Councilors at Court
(A list of blasphemies Kit spoke in sport).
The hearsay was heresy—dangerous it read:
His mouth must be stopped. (His words had 'street cred')
The upshot was a dagger in the head
Two inches deep, the Royal Inquest said.

But Marley's sudden end did not mean dead,
Because another head got stabbed instead—
That of a Welsh reformer with bad luck,
Into whose cadaver the blade stuck.
In fact, Kit Marley's murder in a fight
Was faked by friends who had their story tight—
And tacit right (per royalty's discernment)
To end his plight and foil his internment.

The punishment for blasphemy was certain—
A tragic scene before the final curtain—
Burned to death—or strangled by noose end—
Would be his mortal fate. (Oh, Muse forfend!)
The plan to rescue him had no loose ends—
The jury bought the story they confabbed,
How Christopher allegedly got stabbed
By his companion in a "tavern brawl"
About the tab for food and alcohol.

Th' equation was simple. Do the moral math:
Instead of punishment to take his breath,
They banish him for life and fake his death;
Thus saving Kit from certain prosecution
For heresy—and painful execution—
So he'd continue dishing-out sublime
And timeless poetry while in his prime:
The greatest poet-playwright of all time.
© 2016 Christopher Marlowe More

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Marlowe's-eye view of a mysterious poem in the Bodleian First Folio

Award-winning novelist and Marlovian scholar par excellence, Dr. Ros Barber has written an analyis of a unique poem contained in the Bodleian Shakespeare First Folio employing a "Marlowe-shaped lens" and the result is ... Marlovian gold! Whoever wrote the poem (sometime between 1668-1700 Barber reasons) carefully removed Ben Jonson's verses on the Folio engraving of Shakespeare and replaced them with the verses you see here.

Dr. Barber interprets the poem line-by-line, concluding it's about Marlowe—his leap from life to death and back again—and how he surpassed his own famous (pre-1593) achievements in later life, using the pen-name Shakespeare! Read Ros Barber's persuasive essay available now on her website.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Mr Quotable

With 1282 quotations cited in the Oxford English Dictionary, Marlowe is its 335th most frequently quoted source. I'm not sure who # 334 is, but Kit would certainly have passed whoever had he not been killed in that tavern brawl at age 29. ... He might even have passed the #2 position occupied by his great rival, himself.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Audrey in the the house

As the number of views for WTF Shakespeare grows, I've been wondering what persons and demographic groups comprise its repeat readers (as opposed to, say, those who were searching for Marc Maron's WTF podcast finding this by happy accident). Having a particular audience in mind helps the writer find greater focus and that other thing, you know.
Well, I am pleased to announce and introduce the audience I've conjured up. Her name is Audrey, an audiologist from Austin, Texas, but originally from Australia where she  viewed Mike Rubbo's audacious documentary Much Ado About Something 15 years ago. She has been pro-Marlovian ever since.
Although we agree on the basics of "Marlovian theory of Shakespeare authorship," Audrey and I disagree on some key (and controversial) details of the poet's story—especially the role of George Chapman as a possible "front" for Marley's more ambitious literary projects such as his completion of Hero and Leander and prefatory dedication to Lady Audrey Walsingham, wife of Marlowe's good friend, Thomas Walsingham).  My new BF Audrey will learn, "Shakespeare" was not the only authorial iron the poet had in the fire.
Like a handful of other Marlovians, I maintain it was Marley himself who wrote the continuation and dedication, not Chapman, whereas "Audrey Austin" thinks the styles are too different. Although she hasn't read the final four sestiads of Hero & Leander, she cites as evidence some lines from novelist Ros Barber's fictional telling of Marley's afterlife, in which Barber's protagonist claims that George "adds more wordage than the story needs/ alters [the] structure and destroys the tone,/ then dedicates it to [Tom Walsingham's] recent bride [Audrey]."

All of this Barber's fictional Marlowe finds highly offensive--and of course it would be highly offensive if Chapman's involvement transpired the way Barber presents it in her novel. But did George Chapman compose the final four sestiads of Hero & Leander. More importantly, did George compose the long and highly personal dedication to the wife of Marley's 'best friend'? It makes no sense that he would do either (if Marlowe was still alive), as I will demonstrate to Audrey from Austin—and the rest of my audience—in a future post.