The Marlowe Society
Was Marlowe Faust?
04 October 2015

Inaugural Christopher Marlowe Lecture

Dr Ros Barber asks "Was Marlowe Faustus?"

The Marlowe Society is pleased to announce that the inaugural Christopher Marlowe Lecture will be delivered by Dr Ros Barber in London on Saturday 14 November.

The objectives of the Marlowe Society are to present Christopher Marlowe in his true light as a great poet and playwright, as well as to inspire discussion and study of both Elizabethan literature and drama, with particular attention to Marlowe's place in it. The Society strongly feels that an annual Marlowe Lecture will greatly contribute to these aims.

"As a Society we aim to promote a broad interest in the work of this important dramatist," explained Ken Pickering, Professor of Drama and Theatre at the University of Kent and an ex-Chairman of the Marlowe Society, who has been instrumental in instigating the Marlowe Lecture. "By having an open, public lecture we are providing important opportunities for people to hear experts bringing the results of the latest thinking and research concerning the playwright to bear."

The inaugural Christopher Marlowe Lecture will be delivered by Dr Ros Barber, lecturer in English Literature at Goldsmiths College at the University of London. Ros is a poet, novelist and twice joint-winner of The Hoffman Prize, who is perhaps best known as the author of the critically acclaimed verse novel The Marlowe Papers.

Catharinus Dulcis (1540-1626)
Christopher Marlowe Lecture 2015: Dr Ros Barber with Marlowe Society Chairman George Metcalfe (left) and Event Organiser Professor Ken Pickering (right) after reading her atheist lecture.

The full title of her lecture is A 'Mad and Scoffing Poet ... Bred of Merlin's Race': Was Marlowe Faustus? The quote comes from Robert Greene in his address "to the Gentlemen Readers" introducing his Perimedes the Blacksmith (1588), and is generally considered a reference to Marlowe, not least since 'Marlin' was a common variant of the poet's surname. Ros Barber points out that this "associates Marlowe, very early in his career, with a famous magician. Faustus is the protagonist with whom Marlowe is most often conflated: the scholar A.L. Rowse said 'Marlowe is Faustus'."

In her lecture, Ros will consider a series of questions arising from this allusion. "Is it simply a case of reading the author's life backwards through the lens of his public atheism and subsequent sticky end? Were elements of the Marlowe biography written in to the play after his death? Did those who knew him personally think of him as Faustus? My talk will explore evidence that illuminates Marlowe's relationship with his most famous protagonist."

The Lecture will be held at the Institute for Arts in Therapy & Education in Islington, London, and will start at 11:30am on Saturday 14 November. Further information on how to buy tickets for the lecture and directions to the venue can be found on our Society Events Noticeboard.