Christopher Marlowe's Poems

Literary career


Six dramas have been attributed to the authorship of Christopher Marlowe either alone or in collaboration with other writers, with varying degrees of evidence. The writing sequence or chronology of these plays is mostly unknown and is offered here with any dates and evidence known. Among the little available information we have, Dido is believed to be the first Marlowe play performed, while it was Tamburlaine that was first to be performed on a regular commercial stage in London in 1587. Believed by many scholars to be Marlowe's greatest success, Tamburlaine was the first English play written in blank verse, and with Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy, is generally considered the beginning of the mature phase of the Elizabethan theatre.[16]

Works (The dates of composition are approximate).:

  • Dido, Queen of Carthage (c. 1586) (possibly co-written with Thomas Nashe)
  • Tamburlaine, part 1 (c. 1587), part 2 (c. 1587–1588)
  • The Jew of Malta (c. 1589)
  • Doctor Faustus (c. 1589, or, c. 1593)
  • Edward II (c. 1592)
  • The Massacre at Paris (c. 1593)

The play Lust's Dominion was attributed to Marlowe upon its initial publication in 1657, though scholars and critics have almost unanimously rejected the attribution. He may also have written or co-written Arden of Faversham.

Poetry and Translations

Publication and responses to the poetry and translations credited to Marlowe primarily occurred posthumously, including:

  • Hero and Leander, by Marlowe (c. 1593, unfinished; completed by George Chapman, 1598).
  • The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, a popular lyric of the time by Marlowe. (pre-1593)
  • Amores by Ovid with translation by Marlowe (c. 1580s?); copies publicly burned as offensive in 1599.
  • Pharsalia, Book One, by Lucan with translation by Marlowe. (date unknown)


Modern scholars still look for any possible evidence of collaborations between Marlowe and other writers, in addition to those listed in the above chronology. In 2016, one publisher was the first to commit to an endorsement of a collaboration between Marlowe and the playwright William Shakespeare:

  • Henry VI by William Shakespeare is now credited as a collaboration with Marlowe in the New Oxford Shakespeare series, published in 2016. Marlowe appears as co-author of the three Henry VI plays, though some scholars doubt any actual collaboration.[17][18]

Contemporary Reception

Marlowe's plays were enormously successful, possibly due to the imposing stage presence of his lead actor, Edward Alleyn. Alleyn was unusually tall for the time and the haughty roles of Tamburlaine, Faustus and Barabas were probably written for him. Marlowe's plays were the foundation of the repertoire of Alleyn's company, the Admiral's Men, throughout the 1590s. One of Marlowe's poetry translations did not fare as well. In 1599, Marlowe's translation of Ovid was banned and copies were publicly burned as part of Archbishop Whitgift's crackdown on offensive material.

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