A rose by any other name …

Christopher Marlowe at 21

Christopher Marlowe at 21

… would smell as sweet, right?  Most of us, Shakespeare fans or not, will be familiar with Juliet’s line, telling us that names do not define what things -or people- are …

Some people have asked me why I haven’t got engaged or worked up about the news that Christopher Marlowe is going to be officially credited as the co-author of some of Shakespeare’s plays …

My response is to update the question.  What if we found out that JK Rowling hadn’t actually written the Harry Potter books?  Or that our favourite songs were written by someone else?  Would we care?

Too often, it seems that the authorship question is used by people to somehow suggest that the plays are worse if Shakespeare didn’t write them.  About half-a-dozen times over the last couple of years, people have told me ‘Of course, Shakespeare didn’t write them‘, smirked, and walked off as if they have made a killer point in an argument I wasn’t even aware I was part of!  It’s almost as if they are hiding behind this as an excuse for not engaging with the plays themselves – the ridiculous idea that the plays are in some ways frauds.

For what it’s worth, I believe Shakespeare wrote the plays, and for the vast majority of the time wrote solo.  But, is it really important?  I’m also a fan of Marlowe, and really looking forward to teaching Edward II to my Y13 class later this year (ask the rest of the department how excited I was about this).  It’s the words that truly matter. In fact, to quote “whoever wrote Hamlet“, ‘the play’s the thing‘.  Right?



English Teacher; Shakespeare Geek; Science Fiction Nerd; Adult Fan Of Lego (AFOL); Scrabble Warrior; Television Refusenik. Above all, READER ...

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