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Poetry walk: The Death Warrant of Kyd and Marlowe

The events of 1593 are uniquely awful in the history of English literature.

Though the year began well for Christopher Marlowe with a new play The Massacre at Paris debuting at The Rose, his nemesis was approaching.

Thomas Kyd, a former friend and roommate of Marlowe’s, author of the influential revenge drama The Spanish Tragedy, was enjoying his sixth year in service to an unknown aristocrat, possibly the Earl of Sussex or the Earl of Derby. He would soon lose his post, his liberty and his reputation.

Plague returned, shutting the London theatres, and natives were becoming increasingly resentful of the few thousand French, Belgian and Dutch immigrants who were resident in the city.

On May 5, a 53-line piece of racist doggerel was fixed on the door of the Dutch Church at Austin Friars. The unknown author signed it ‘Tamberlaine’.

This was to be the death warrant of the two greatest poet-playwrights before Shakespeare.

Poet, walking artist and psychohistorian Niall McDevitt tells the story of how the Elizabethan ‘police state’ tortured and - arguably - murdered Thomas Kyd and Christopher Marlowe.

Sun 23 Jun meeting at Blackfriars station (north bank) at 2pm. The walk will last approximately two and a half hours. £10. Facebook event here.