The World of Christopher Marlowe

John Simon reviews The World of Christopher Marlowe by David Riggs, in the New York Times Book Review:

Marlowe184Pity the famous man born the same year as a more famous one: case in point Christopher Marlowe (1564-93) and William Shakespeare. At their simultaneous centenaries, Marlowe was shamefully shortchanged. It would be no less a shame if a recent popular biography of Shakespeare eclipsed David Riggs’s worthy ”World of Christopher Marlowe.” Kit and Will are a pair of equal deservers.

With praiseworthy modesty, Riggs calls his book ”The World,” not ”The Life” of his elusive subject. Elizabethan poets (the word ”playwright” was not yet invented) leave far fewer traces than biographers might wish for. This holds for Shakespeare as much as for Marlowe, though Marlowe benefited from being a brawler and a spy: there is nothing like getting in trouble for getting you into the record books.

More here.