The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, commonly referred to simply as Doctor Faustus, is an Elizabethan tragedy by Christopher Marlowe, based on German stories about the title character Faust. It was written sometime between 1589 and 1592, and might have been performed between 1592 and Marlowe's death in 1593. Two different versions of the play were published in the Jacobean era, several years later.
The powerful effect of early productions of the play is indicated by the legends that quickly accrued around them—that actual devils once appeared on the stage during a performance, "to the great amazement of both the actors and spectators", a sight that was said to have driven some spectators mad
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About the Author
Some scholars believe that a warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May 1593. No reason was given for it, though it was thought to be connected to allegations of blasphemy-a manuscript believed to have been written by Marlowe was said to contain "vile heretical conceipts". On 20 May, he was brought to the court to attend on the Privy Council for questioning. There is no record of their having met that day and his being commanded to attend on them each day thereafter, until "licensed to the contrary". Ten days later, he was stabbed to death by Ingram Frizer. Whether or not the stabbing was connected to his arrest remains unknown
Marlowe was born in Canterbury to shoemaker John Marlowe and his wife Catherine. His date of birth is not known but he was baptised on 26 February 1564 and is likely to have been born a few days before, making him two months older than William Shakespeare, who was baptised on 26 April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Marlowe attended The King's School in Canterbury (where a house is named after him) and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he studied on a scholarship and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1584. In 1587, the university hesitated to award him his Master of Arts degree because of a rumour that he intended to go to the English college at Rheims, presumably to prepare for ordination as a Roman Catholic priest. His degree was awarded on schedule when the Privy Council intervened on his behalf, commending him for his "faithful dealing" and "good service" to the Queen. The nature of Marlowe's service was not specified by the Council, but its letter to the Cambridge authorities has provoked much speculation, notably the theory that Marlowe was operating as a secret agent working for Sir Francis Walsingham. No direct evidence supports this theory, although the Council's letter itself is an evidence that Marlowe had served the government in some secret capacity
Table of Contents
Introduction; Text; Notes.