The Marlowe Society
17 January 2009

Hoffman Prize Winners Announced

Joint Winners Again announced of 2008 Prize

In December, the King's School, Canterbury announced Joint Winners of the Annual Hoffman Prize for the second year running. The two winners of the nineteenth Calvin & Rose G Hoffman Prize for a distinguished publication on Christopher Marlowe were:

The winners were also announced in the Times newspaper on 10th December.

The prize was established as a bequest by Calvin Hoffman, author of the 1955 book The Murder of the Man Who Was Shakespeare, which posited that Marlowe's death in Deptford in 1593 was in fact faked, and that he rather went on to write the works now attributed to Shakespeare. A substantial Trust Fund was set up that will be awarded to anybody who can produce "irrefutable" evidence that Marlowe was the real author.

In the meantime, an annual prize is also awarded for the essay that "most convincingly, authoritatively and informatively examines and discusses the life and works of Christopher Marlowe, and the authorship of the plays and poems now commonly attributed to Shakespeare". Both prizes are administered by the King's School, who appoint an appropriate adjudicator each year to make the judgement. This year the adjudicator was once again Professor Park Honan, Emeritus Professor of English and American Literature at the University of Leeds, and author of critically acclaimed biographies of both Marlowe and Shakespeare.

In 2007, one of the joint winners was Marlowe Society member Peter Farey, whose achievement was once again underlined this year by the prize being won by two full-time academics. Previous winners include Dr. Lisa Hopkins (Sheffield Hallam University, 1994), Prof. James Shapiro (Columbia University, also 1994), Prof. Jonathan Bate (University of Liverpool, 1995), Prof. David Riggs (Stanford University, 1998), and Prof. Michael Hattaway (University of Sheffield, 2001).

Dr. Mateer's essay sounds particularly intriguing, revealing some newly unearthed references to Marlowe that probably place him in London in 1587 and 1588. The essay has already been published in Volume 11.2 of the Canadian journal Early Theatre, from which the following abstract is taken:

"Two lawsuits - one certainly relating to Christopher Marlowe, the other probably relating to him - have been discovered among the records of the court of King's Bench at The National Archives in Kew, London. In the first, one Edward Elvyn, a friend from his student days at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, sued 'Christopher Marley' in debt for the unpaid sum of £10 lent to him in London in April 1588. In the second, James Wheatley, a hackney-man from the parish of Allhallows London Wall, brought suit against 'Christopher Marlo' in conversion for the non-delivery of a horse and tackle that the latter had hired from him in August 1587. These documents help to fill a yawning gap in Marlowe's biography by locating him in the theatrical community living around Bishopsgate, in London's north-east suburbs, immediately after leaving Cambridge on completion of his studies there. His difficulties with the hackney-man are tentatively linked with the horse-courser episode in Doctor Faustus, which, it is suggested, may have implications for the dating of the play. The transgressive nature of Marlowe's behaviour, as revealed by the new documents, appears to confirm at an early date his reputation as the 'bad boy' of Elizabethan theatre."

We have no further information at this stage regarding Dr Stanivukovic's essay.

Tweets by @Marlowe_Society