Conference: Other Voices Other Times
Title of Paper: Resurrecting Marlowe
The Marlowe Papers (Sceptre, 2012) is the fictional autobiography of sixteenth century playwright Christopher Marlowe and is a novel written entirely in blank verse. In this presentation I will share the processes that led to its construction over a four year period and which facilitated the development of an authentic voice for the protagonist and the creation of a believable and inhabitable Elizabethan world.The following questions will be addressed. How does one ‘become’ Marlowe and speak – in a way that seems genuine – from the perspective of a four-hundred-year-old dead man? How does one develop a vocabulary and tone that sounds authentically Elizabethan whilst staying within the readable confines of contemporary English? What decisions were necessary to strike the right balance between authenticity and readability? What was learnt etymologically from the process of weeding out anachronisms in the text? What level of research is necessary? How are gaps in historical knowledge filled for modern readers through a first person narrator to whom such detail needs no description, being the background of everyday existence?
The Marlowe Papers resurrects Marlowe in more than one sense, not only appearing to bring him back to life so that he can tell his own story, but taking the line that his apparent death in Deptford was staged in order for him to escape capital charges of atheism and heresy, fleeing to a life of exile abroad, with his subsequent writing appearing under the pen-name William Shakespeare. How does a construction of Marlowe that didn’t die at Deptford differ from the conventional construction of one who did? And how does one overcome the massive act of hubris that becomes apparent when you realise you must write not only as if you are Marlowe, but as if you are the author of the greatest works of literature of all time?
Venue: Bath Spa University
Time: 11am (conference 9am – 5pm)