March 29, 2006
Who Killed Christopher Marlowe?
Stephen Greenblatt in the New York Review of Books:
On the morning of May 30, 1593, twenty-nine-year-old Christopher Marlowe made his way to an appointment he had in Deptford, a small town on the Thames, a few miles downriver from London Bridge. The appointment was for 10 AM at a house that belonged to a widow named Eleanor Bull. There Marlowe met three men with whom he was already well acquainted, Ingram Frizer, Nicholas Skeres, and Robert Poley. The four sat all morning in quiet conversation, had lunch together, and afterward walked for some time in widow Bull's garden. At about 6 PM they returned inside for supper. Along with the table at which they ate, the room contained a bed, on which Marlowe lay down after dining; the other three continued to sit next to each other on a single bench, their backs to their reclining companion.
According to the official account, an argument began between Ingram Frizer and Marlowe about the bill— the "reckoning," as it was termed—for the meals they had eaten that day. Their words grew ever more heated. Suddenly Marlowe's anger must have boiled over, for he jumped up and grabbed Frizer's dagger from its sheath. Hemmed in by Skeres and Poley and at first unable to move, Frizer was slashed twice on the head before he finally wrested his weapon out of Marlowe's hands. "And so it befell, in that affray, that the said Ingram, in defense of his life, with the dagger aforesaid of the value of twelve pence, gave the said Christopher then and there a mortal wound over his right eye, of the depth of two inches and of the width of one inch."
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