The Marlowe Society
Val McDermid
25 September 2010

Hero and Learning

Val McDermid Explains Why Marlowe is her Hero

The Guardian's Saturday Review Section each week has an eminent writer describing "My Hero". This week the famous Scottish crime writer Val McDermid explained why Christopher Marlowe is her hero and inspiration.

It is perhaps no surprise that the mystery surrounding Marlowe's death should intrigue a writer who has written over 25 novels, the majority of which are carefully crafted psychological thrillers. But McDermid also admires what she sees as Marlowe's "tenacity and bloody-mindedness" in rising from humble beginnings to attend Cambridge University, serve the state as a spy, and eventually become "a thorn in the side of the highest in the land". Marlowe's writing is also a great inspiration, his blank verse exhibiting a "real sense of poetry and passion," as is the "glorious way he used the English language to conjure up extraordinary images."

Marlowe's rise perhaps mirrors Val McDermid's own development in some ways. She was accepted at the young age of 17 to read English at St Hilda's College, Oxford, the first undergraduate there from a Scottish state school. Having survived and flourished "in a place where no-one understood a word I said," she went on to become a journalist before having her first book published in 1984. She is best know for three series of novels based around her own literary heroes: journalist Lindsay Gordon, private investigator Kate Brannigan, and the pairing of psychologist Tony Hill and Detective Inspector Carol Jordan. The first book in the Tony Hill series, The Mermaids Singing, won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of 1995, and was adapted into the TV series Wire in the Blood starring Robson Green and Hermione Norris.

Website Link: Guardian My Hero Series - Christopher Marlowe by Val McDermid
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