400 years after his mysterious, violent death cut short his brilliant career, Christopher Marlowe: playwright, poet, spy, radical atheist & homosexual, still fascinates with his poetic & tragic life. He was depicted as a suave genius with the looks of Rupert Everett in the film Shakespeare In Love.
Scandal clings similarly to Marlowe’s legend. He was arrested for fighting in the streets & for counterfeiting. Historical records suggest that he spied on Roman Catholics as a secret agent for the Queen's fanatically Protestant court. He was also an atheist with a penchant for blasphemy, a serious charge in 16th century England. Just before his death in 1593, he was denounced for mocking religion & for atheism. He was arrested & ordered to report daily to the Queen's Council.
Marlowe died under very dubious circumstances. He was stabbed through the eye in a brawl that could be interpreted as a quarrel over a bill at a tavern. His killer & several witnesses had criminal & espionage connections, some scholars believe he had been marked for political assassination.
Adding a further twist to the mystery are theories that Marlowe may have written portions the Shakespearean canon, even after 1593, with the possibility that his death was staged & Marlowe escaped to live & write under another identity.
Marlowe wrote Edward II, which I believe to be the 1st major play with a gay hero. Check out Ian McKellen's (then in the closet) breakthrough performance as Edward II from the1969 Edinburgh Festival available on DVD, & openly gay Derek Jarman’s accessible, interesting, relevant, contemporary film adaptation from 1991.