Sunday, 31 July 2016

Christopher Shakespeare the man behind the plays

Christopher Shakespeare the man behind the plays, is a book by Malcolm Elliot that explores the possibility that the plays of William Shakespeare were actually written by his contemporary, Christopher Marlow.

The book claims that Marlow did not, in fact, die in Deptfords in 1593 but that he actually lived out the rest of his life in hiding, including a long period of time in Italy.

The book describes what his life might have been like, had he actually lived.

It suggests that there is evidence that the plays and sonnets were written abroad and not in England.

He reiterates the theory that William Shakespeare was merely a frontman who allowed his name to be placed upon the works to facilitate their publication.

The author owes, he acknowledges, a debt to A. D. Wraight and Peter Farey whose "pioneering work" showed that, according to them, the evidence of the death of Marlow in Deptford is "utterly unconvincing."

The reader is asked to believe that Christopher Marlow, the son of a Kentish cobbler, rather than William Shakespeare, the son of a glover, wrote all the plays and sonnets that are ascribed to the latter.

My one concern is that, the book seems to be filled with conjecture. We read that "we can imagine the young Christopher wandering around..." the ruins of the Abby of St Augustine.

We then read that Marlowe "would have been told of the execution ad burning of Friar Stone" that Marlowe "would have" heard or seen this, that and the other.

In his own area in the Midlands a young William Shakespeare would also have seen and heard a great deal, too. but this cannot, really, be said to prove anything one way or the other.

Malcolm Elliot proves that Marlowe was an excellent poet and a great playwright, but this does not necessarily prove that there could not have been at least two great playwrights and poets at or around the same time, Marlowe and Shakespeare.

However, Malcolm Elliot does argue his case well and scholars of Shakespeare and Marlowe would do well to purchase this learned and well-written book, which is published in hardback at £12.99, by The Book Guild.

It is available from the That's Books bookshop, which is to the right of this review.  

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