Christopher Marlowe



John Bakeless, The Tragicall History of Christopher Marlowe, 2 vols (Cambridge, Mass., 1942).


The Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe, ed. Fredson Bowers, 2 vols (Cambridge, 1973).

Tucker Brooke

The Works of Christopher Marlowe, ed. C.F. Tucker Brooke (Oxford, 1910).

Roma et al.

The Complete Works of Christopher Marlowe, 5 vols (Oxford, 1987-98), vols I, II, IV, ed Roma Gill; vol. III, ed. Richard Rowland; vol. V, ed. David Fuller and Edward J. Esche.

Wraight & Stern

A. D. Wraight and Virginia F. Stern, In Search of Christopher Marlowe (London, 1965).


The only known example of Marlowe's hand is his signature as witness to the will of Katherine Benchkin in November 1585 (*MrC 24). Despite the claims made in Wraight & Stern, a comparison between this signature and the much-discussed manuscript fragment of A Massacre at Paris (MrC 23) renders untenable the view that the latter could be autograph. On the contrary, the fragment is the work of an unskilled scribe. Neither is there a convincing argument to suppose that it is a forgery, even though once owned by John Payne Collier. Some discernible unevenness in the pen strokes and flow of ink can be attributed to the scribe's lack of skill.

No other early manuscripts of the plays are known apart from one or two quotations (including interesting early quotations from Doctor Faustus in the hand of Thomas Nashe (MrC 20) and two manuscript leaves making up an imperfect printed exemplum of Edward II (MrC 21). There are early manuscript copies of just a few of the poems, notably of Marlowe's most famous lyric ‘Come live with mee’, which exists in several early versions (MrC 10-19), one text (MrC 18) apparently assigned by its scribe to Thomas Blundeville's Exercises (first published in 1594).


A few later manuscript copies, not given entries below, may be mentioned. An eighteenth-century manuscript copy of Dido Queen of Carthage, transcribed for George Steevens (1736-1800) by the actor John Henderson (1747-85) from what was then thought to be a unique exemplum of the 1594 edition, is in the British Library (Add. MS 5142). A transcript made from Henderson's transcript by Brownlow Waight in 1832 is in the Folger, MS D. a. 10. A late-eighteenth-century transcript of an early edition of A Massacre at Paris, with the title-page and ff. 3r-8v perhaps in the hand of the actor John Philip Kemble (1757-1823), is in the British Library (King's MS 443). Charles Lamb's manuscript copy of ‘Come live with mee’ is at Harvard (MS Eng 959).

Numerous documents in public records relating to Marlowe's life are reproduced in Wraight & Stern. They include various academic records, the warrant for his arrest in 1593, the testimonies of Richard Baines and others concerning his alleged atheism, and the coroner's inquest on his death. Facsimiles of some of these documents are also in Charles Nicholl, The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe (Chicago, 1992), after pp. 190 and 254. Transcripts of one or two of these documents are among the collections of Thomas Baker (1656-1740), Cambridge antiquary, in the British Library (Harley MS 7042, f. 206r-v). Other records concerning Marlowe and his family are cited in William Urry, Christopher Marlowe and Canterbury, ed. Andrew Butcher (London, 1988); in Constance Brown Kuriyama, Christopher Marlowe: A Renaissance Life (Ithaca & London, 2002); and in Park Honan, Christopher Marlowe Poet and Spy (Oxford, 2005), including some facsimiles.

Peter Beal