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Christopher Marlowe: Poet & Spy

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  92 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
One of the great playwrights of his age, second only to Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe was also a secret agent as well as the central figure in a murder mystery. Now, Park Honan offers the most thoroughly researched and detailed biography of Marlowe to appear in over fifty years.
Honan, the acclaimed biographer of Shakespeare, takes us from Marlowe's childhood in Canterb
Paperback, 421 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2005)
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Sean Gibson
Kit Marlowe should be a compelling biographical subject. Epic plays? Bar fights? Rivalry with Bill Shakespeare? Alleged spying?! How can this NOT be amazing??

Sadly, there's not a whole lot of actual, you know, evidence about Marlowe's life, and so this is mostly conjecture on what he MIGHT have done or said or thought, and none of it is particularly engaging. It's by no means the author's fault that the historical record is lacking, but if speculation is the name of the game, I prefer mine wild
Dec 09, 2013 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Park Honan of the University of Leeds published this biography of the playwright and poet in 2005, and the book may represent the most thorough of Marlowe biographies in light of recent research and evidence. As might be expected with regard to an historical figure whose life and career have been enigmatic, all uncertainties are not cleared up with this volume. Indeed, the first chapter, which relates to Marlowe’s childhood in Canterbury in the late 16th century, is filled with phrases such as, ...more
This book was a little frustrating--Honan did quite a bit of psychological analysis on little (or sometimes no) evidence. That's OK in moderation, but to my taste, he overindulged and it felt a little like padding. Others may disagree, though, and if you're new to the whole debate over Marlowe's life, death, and career as a spy, this is probably a good general introduction.
Pete daPixie
Any regular reader of historical non-fiction will be well aware of an author's ability to extract telling detail from seeming innocuous scraps of information long hidden in dusty archives. Park Honan's 'Christopher Marlowe-Poet & Spy' (2005) appears to stitch together a biography of the enigmatic Elizabethan from the barest of threads. The author is Emeritus Professor at the School of English, University of Leeds. Having previously published a biography of Shakespeare, he walks on familiar g ...more
I've read about half of Honan's biography of Marlowe. Because I don't know the state of documentary sources that relate to Marlowe, I can't really judge the book too harshly. It may well be that Honan has wrung all the information and informed, reasonable conjecture that can possibly extract from the bits and snippets that survive. I do wish that he had spent fewer words on context and more on developing his sense of the human being, however. Apparently with subjects such as Marlowe, it appears ...more
May 20, 2014 Evalyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the great poets and playwrights during the Renaissance, Christopher Marlowe might have been more of a challenge to Shakespeare's legacy if he had lived longer. This book explores his writing and his assistance to the Queen as a spy. Of all the playwrights in their time (and since), Shakespeare excelled, and was definitely the best, but Marlowe certainly deserves runner-up status.
Dec 26, 2014 Rose rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Workmanly biography of Christopher Marlowe, well explained but never catches fire. Nicely chosen illustrations.
May 17, 2012 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good book to evoke the times and life of the poet, but there seem to be a lot of educated guesses and leaps-of-faith here. Perhaps there is more documentary proof of some of the relationships therein, but perhaps, in trying to make it more like a biography(and less a research thesis), some things got lost along the way.
Melisende d'Outremer
A serious look at the life and career of one of England's greatest writers (sorry Will). Marlowe was an enigmatic and mysterious man whose work often goes without due credit. I am slightly biased as I personally love Marlowe.
Somehow it was the film Shakespeare in Love which sparked my interest in Marlow.
Vicki Mullen
Aug 29, 2012 Vicki Mullen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
This book was all over the place and hard to read. I learned more about the people around Marlow then I did about him.
David Serxner
Dec 15, 2008 David Serxner is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Very well written so far. It always amazes me the amount of work that go into a biography like this.
May 25, 2015 Melissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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