Gay History - February 26, 1564: Christopher Marlowe English Playwright and Poet (1564-1593)

Gay History – February 26, 1564: Christopher Marlowe English Playwright and Poet (1564-1593)

February 26, 1564: Christopher Marlow  is baptized in Canterbury, England.

Marlow was an English playwright, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. Marlowe was the foremost Elizabethan tragedian of his day. He greatly influenced William Shakespeare, who was born in the same year as Marlowe and who rose to become the pre-eminent Elizabethan playwright after Marlowe’s mysterious early death at the age of 29.

While there is no direct evidence that Marlowe self-identified as gay, some of his works contain homoerotic themes and references that suggest he had same-sex attraction.

For example, Marlowe’s play “Edward II” portrays the relationship between King Edward II and his favorite, Piers Gaveston, in a way that has been interpreted as a same-sex romance. Additionally, some of Marlowe’s poetry contains homoerotic imagery and references to male beauty. Another major work from the 1590s is the sensual, homoerotic poem Hero and Leander.

It’s worth noting that in Marlowe’s time, homosexuality was considered a crime punishable by death, so there were few opportunities for people to openly express their same-sex attraction. As a result, it can be difficult to definitively label historical figures as gay or bisexual based on contemporary understandings of sexuality. However, based on the available evidence, it seems likely that Marlowe was gay.

Rumor’s about Marlowe’s unconventional religious and political beliefs intensified before his death. After the posting of an anti-immigrant libel signed ‘Tamburlaine’ in London on 5 May 1593, Marlowe’s lodgings were raided and his room-mate Thomas Kyd arrested. nder interrogation Kyd accused Marlowe of blasphemy. The Privy Council issued a warrant for his arrest. A few days later the council received a document compiled by the spy Robert Baines, listing 19 dangerous beliefs allegedly held by Marlowe, including ‘that Christ was a bastard and his mother dishonest’, and that ‘all they that love not tobacco and boys were fools’.

On May 30, 1593 Christopher Marlowe was stabbed to death during a fight at a house in Deptford, apparently after an argument about a bill. 

Further information about the life of Christopher Marlowe can be found via the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.


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