The Hoffman Prize


Calvin Hoffman

The Hoffman Prize was established by a bequest of the late Calvin Hoffman, author of The Murder of the Man Who Was Shakespeare (Max Parrish 1955). The prize is competitive and open to all scholars and informed laymen the world over. It is administered by The King’s School, Canterbury, who appoint eminent academics from time to time to act as Adjudicators of essays submitted.

The Trust

The Calvin & Rose G Hoffman Marlowe Memorial Trust is a registered charity (no. 289971) dedicated to research into the life and work of Christopher Marlowe. The Trust Fund is substantial, and the principal prize is equal to one half of the capital of the entire Trust Fund, whose value will depend on the varying value of investments. Meanwhile annual prizes, based upon the Fund’s annual income, are in the region of £9000.

The Principal Prize

Calvin Hoffman was convinced that Christopher Marlowe wrote the works attributed to William Shakespeare. The principal prize will be awarded to the person who “has in the opinion of the King’s School furnished irrefutable and incontrovertible proof and evidence required to satisfy the world of Shakespearian scholarship that all the plays and poems now commonly attributed to William Shakespeare were in fact written by Christopher Marlowe.

The Annual Prize

Until the Principal Prize has been awarded, The Calvin and Rose G Hoffman Prize for a Distinguished Publication on Christopher Marlowe is offered annually. This is awarded to the person who submits to The King’s School prior to the first day of September in any year, an essay that, in the opinion of The King’s School, most convincingly, authoritatively and informatively examines and discusses in depth the life and works of Christopher Marlowe and the authorship of the plays and poems now commonly attributed to William Shakespeare, with particular regard to the possibility that Christopher Marlowe wrote some or all of those plays and poems, or made some inspirational creative or compositional contributions towards the authorship of them.


The closing date for entries in any year is 01 September, and the winner of the annual prize will be announced early the following December. There is no stipulation as to the length of the essay but the Trustees consider that it should be of not less than about 5000 words. There is no upper limit, but diffuseness of presentation will be penalised. Essays (written in English) should be typed in double spacing, and should be documented in accepted scholarly fashion. Each essay should be accompanied by a signed statement of originality, and all quotations from other writers should be acknowledged.

Essays will be judged on their scholarly contribution to the study of Christopher Marlowe and his relationship to William Shakespeare, whether or not they support the view that Marlowe was partially or wholly responsible for the works attributed to Shakespeare. Published works cannot be considered.

Essays submitted should be posted in duplicate to:

The Hoffman Administrator,
The King’s School,
25 The Precincts,
CT1 2ES.

Further details of the competition and its conditions may be also obtained by writing to this address.

Can the Principal Prize Ever Be Won?

The King’s School cannot give potential competitors any estimate of the value of the principal prize since it depends upon the varying value of investments, but it can be assumed that it would be substantial.

However, it is difficult to see how it could actually be won. Even if The King’s School were satisfied that a competitor had produced the irrefutable evidence required, how should Shakespearian scholarship be convinced? If evidence is “irrefutable”, but highly inconvenient, it is normal practice to dismiss it with lofty scorn – not to try to refute it. It would surely take a generation or two, and possibly more than the value of the prize itself, before the sceptical world of Shakespearian scholarship – to say nothing of the interested world of Shakespearian commerce – would abandon its claims in the face of “irrefutable evidence”.

View previous winners here