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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

§ 8. Association with Shakespeare

There remains the question of Shakespearean association. Four points of contact have been assumed; in King John, in The Taming of the Shrew, in Titus Andronicus, and in the three parts of Henry VI. That Marlowe had any share in the old play The Troublesome Raigne of John, King of England cannot be admitted; the refutation lies in the appeal of the prologue for welcome to a “warlike christian and your countryman” from those who had applauded the infidel Tamburlaine. That Marlowe is the author of the older shrew play, The Taming of a Shrew, is not more reasonable; for the mosaic of quotations and reminiscences of Tamburlaine and Dr. Faustus prove, if they prove anything, that the author could not be the writer of these plays. There is a spirit of burlesque throughout in which the most incorrigible self-critic would have hesitated to indulge, and which only a “transformed” Marlowe would have essayed. In the case of the much debated Titus Andronicus and the three parts of Henry VI there is some show of argument for Marlowe’s hand. The more full-bodied verse of Titus, the metaphorical reach and, above all, the dramatic presentment of Aaron—which have helped to give the play a place in the Shakespearean canon—might well be the work of the author of Tamburlaine. But similar arguments, not less plausible, have discovered the pen of Peele, and of Greene. More has been said for the view that Marlowe had a share in Henry VI; but it is difficult to come nearer an admission of his association than to say that he probably had a hand in The Contention betwixt the two famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster (written before 1590) which serves as the basis of the Second Part. We may guess that he collaborated in the revision of the Third Part; but it is hard to find any hint of his style in the First Part, of which there is no evidence of an earlier version. On the other hand, it is clear that the author of the First Part was familiar with Tamburlaine, and in a way not to be explained as reminiscence.