By A.L. Goldberger, Albert C.C. Yang and C.K. Peng
Introduction: William Shakespeare, poet and dramatist, has become the pre-eminent symbol of literary genius. Nevertheless, the author’s “real” identity has been an inexhaustible source of controversy and mystery for over 300 years, with more than eighty Elizabethans having been proposed since the eighteenth century as the “true Shakespeare.” Among the many candidates Shakespeare’s contemporary, Christopher Marlowe, has attracted much attention since 1895 when William Gleason Zeigler published a detective story entitled It Was Marlowe: A Story of the Secret of Three Centuries.
The facts surrounding the life and death of the men called Shakespeare and Marlowe are murky at best. Both men had births recorded in 1564. Before Shakespeare’s name became widely known, Marlowe had already produced several major works in various genres, including Tamburlaine the Great and Dr. Faustus. According to conventional accounts, Marlowe’s career tragically ended on 30 May, 1593, when he was apparently murdered in a dispute. The mysterious circumstances surrounding Marlowe’s death and coincidental appearance at around the same time of a young actor and playwright named William Shakespeare have helped fuel speculation that Marlowe, in fact, may not have been killed.