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Friday, 12 July, 2002, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Marlowe given Poets' Corner tribute
Marlowe memorial
Mystery surrounds the date of Marlowe's death
Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe has been honoured with a memorial glass panel in Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner, which places him among the greatest names in English literature.

The diamond-shaped plaque was unveiled by actor Sir Antony Sher, in a dedication service at the Abbey.

Marlowe, who was best known for the plays Dr Faustus, Tamburlaine and The Jew Of Malta, joins the ranks of William Wordsworth, Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott, who are among the many other poets and novelists to receive this tribute.

However, the new memorial has renewed the mystery and intrigue surrounding the playwright. Although Marlowe is thought to have died in 1593, the panel features a question mark next to his date of death.

Marlowe's death is one of the best recorded episodes of English literary history

Stanley Wells, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Academics have frequently debated the possibility that Marlowe, who was rumoured to be an atheist and a spy, faked his death to escape charges of blasphemy and fled overseas, where he continued to write under the pseudonym of William Shakespeare.

The Marlowe Society, which has spent years campaigning for the dramatist to be given a place in Poets' Corner, insisted on the question mark being included on the panel.

"I put the question mark there to keep the debate going," society president Colin Niven told The Daily Telegraph.

But fans of Shakespeare have objected to its inclusion, and the allegation that it was Marlowe behind some of the Bard's best-known works.

"The idea that Marlowe wrote Shakespeare's work is peculiarly stupid," said Stanley Wells, chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
Shakespeare
Marlowe is said by some to be the real William Shakespeare

"The fact is that Marlowe's death is one of the best recorded episodes of English literary history."

According to a coroner's report unearthed at the Public Records Office almost 80 years ago. Marlowe was stabbed above his right eye on 30 May, 1593, during a brawl over an unpaid bill at a tavern in Deptford, London.

Wells, a respected Shakespeare scholar, insists is the true version of events.

"The idea that a flamboyant, revolutionary and subversive character such as Marlowe would go into hiding and produce a set of masterpieces quite different from his previous work, get them through to London and persuade somebody called William Shakespeare to take the credit is totally crazy," he said.

However, a spokewoman for Westminster Abbey said Abbey staff did not see the question mark as controversial.

"Nobody is 100% sure of the date of his death, so the question mark was put in," said Vikki Wood.

See also:

22 Mar 02 | Entertainment
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12 Apr 02 | Entertainment
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