The Marlowe Society

Marlowe in Exile?

Marlowe in Exile?

1. A.D.Wraight's Research

A Marlowe/ Shakespeare Debate Page

Did Christopher Marlowe die at Deptford in 1593?

The respected author and Marlovian scholar A.D.Wraight thinks not. A hypothesis on the life of Christopher Marlowe after the events at Deptford has been put forward in her book The Story that the Sonnets Tell1. An earlier book by this author In Search of Christopher Marlowe2, written in collaboration with Virginia Stern, is accepted as a definitive reference on Marlowe before the Deptford incident.

A.D.Wraight collates earlier research into (a) the Coroner's report of the Inquest on Marlowe's death and (b) the background of the people involved, and concludes that his murder was faked. This raises the question, what happened to Christopher Marlowe next?

Wraight has analysed the 154 Shakespearian Sonnets in a new way with meticulous detail and believes she has identified the poet as Marlowe. Moreover she believes we can plot with some certainty his period in exile after a 'faked' murder and the varied emotions he experienced, amongst which despair at the distance from all he loves, and the injustice and inexorability of his fate, predominate.

A.D.Wraight has grouped all the poems according to their subject matter and believes she has identified the true meaning and identities of the "Dark Lady" and "Mr. W.H.". She believes that Thomas Thorpe, the publisher of the Sonnets, deliberately confused his readers by altering the chronological order of the Sonnets, mixing up the subject matter and order of composition to prevent the identification of the real poet, a fugitive in continual danger.

Scholars have long considered that the Sonnets could be autobiographical since many of them are written in the first person; therefore they appear to tell the life story of the author. The dedication in the Shake-speare Sonnets (the hyphenated name suggesting that it was a pseudonym), present puzzles that have long taxed scholars. Who was Mr W.H.? And who was the "Dark Lady"?

Wraight agrees with Leslie Hotson's solution3 to these puzzles.His suggestion that the cryptogram which forms the dedication to the Sonnets identified William Hatcliffe as Mr W.H.and that Luce Morgan, a disgraced courtier, was the Dark Lady, (the term "black" was used by Elizabethans in reference to this lady's profession). These two people provide further clues in identifying the author of the Sonnets as Christopher Marlowe since Hotson was able to show that both were known to Marlowe. Wraight honours Hotson for his work and continues where he left off.

On the following page, I have summarised some of the main points made by A.D.Wraight in her book.

  • Note 1: A.D.Wraight, The Story That The Sonnets Tell (Adam Hart Publishing, 1995). Back to Text
  • Note 2: A.D.Wraight & V.F.Stern, In Search of Christopher Marlowe (Vanguard Press, 1965). Back to Text
  • Note 3: Leslie Hotson, Mr W.H. (Hart-Davis Publishers, 1964). Back to Text