In Christopher Marlowe: Every Word Doth Almost Tell My Name, Cynthia Morgan offers 27 essays supporting the claim that Marlowe was the real author of the works commonly attributed to William Shakespeare.
Of the essays, formerly appearing in Morgan’s online journal, The Marlowe Studies, 20 are written by Morgan. The other seven are by Alex Jack (three essays), Isabel Gortazar, Gary Sloan, and A.D. Wraight (two essays).
Because Shakespeare’s first published work, Venus and Adonis, appeared just two weeks after Marlowe’s reputed death, the essayists must establish that Marlowe was not actually murdered in an after-dinner brawl at the widow Eleanor Bull’s house, as reported. As with all points in the book, the writers take a comprehensive approach, showing among numerous reasons, the insufficiency of the coroner’s report and how Marlowe could have been spirited into exile by his patron, the spymaster Thomas Walsingham.
Other topics include the similarity in style between Marlowe’s and Shakespeare’s work, the clues concerning Marlowe’s exile that he supposedly planted in his plays and sonnets, Marlowe’s comprehensive education at Cambridge, and his work as a spy for Walsingham.
The book is erudite and well documented and provides a fascinating look into a time when it could mean death to espouse atheism or a religion other than the queen’s Protestantism.
It occasionally falters, however, by failing to concede the weakness of some arguments. Many of the sonnets readily lend themselves to multiple interpretations, but others, like 76, seem rather straightforward in their meaning, yet Morgan persists in insisting its raison d’etre is to point to clues concerning Marlowe’s continued existence in Shakespeare’s works. This undermines the validity of her interpretation of other sonnets.
Also, the book lacks discussions of other would-be Shakespeare contenders like Sir Francis Bacon, Edward de Vere and William Stanley.
Nonetheless, this is an impressive collection of Marlovian studies and should be a welcome addition to any scholar’s shelf.
Also available as an ebook.