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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

VII. Marlowe and Kyd

§ 1. The forerunners of Shakespeare

WHETHER, in strict chronology, we should say Kyd and Marlowe rather than Marlowe and Kyd is but a minor problem of precedence. Even if it be found, as some suspect to be the case, that The Spanish Tragedie is earlier than Tamburlaine, we need not disturb the traditional order; for Marlowe, more truly than his contemporary, is the protagonist of the tragic drama in England, and, in a more intimate sense, the forerunner of Shakespeare and his fellows. After all, the main consideration is that the two poets may be grouped together, because, in ways complementary to each other, they show the first purpose of the higher and more serious type of English tragedy, the first hints of the romantic quality which is the literary token and honour of their successors, and, if Lyly be joined with them, the training and technical circumstance of Shakespeare himself.