Hamlet is the most sublime achievement of the Elizabethan stage. Like Hamlet's ghost, a specter haunts the literary and theatrical worlds, intimating that Shakespeare is not the sole or principal author of the works bearing his name.
New historical, scientific, and literary evidence suggests that Christopher "Kit" Marlowe—London's leading playwright and a secret government agent—staged his death in 1593 to avoid torture and execution for heresy and sedition during a witch hunt led by John Whitgift, the archbishop of Canterbury. Choosing to be rather than not to be, Marlowe appears to have gone under cover and composed Hamlet and other works in silent partnership with actor Will Shakespeare. That is the conclusion in this compelling, thoroughly annotated new edtion of the world's most famous play.
This is the first edition of Hamlet to trace Kit and Will's story, explore its deeper autobiographical roots, and suggest plausible historical resonances with such unforgettable characters as Prince Hamlet, Horatio, King Claudius, Queen Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia, Laertes, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the jester Yorick, and the Gravediggers.
Was 'Wicked' Whitgift, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Real Life Claudius?
In revealing how Claudius has masterminded his murder, Hamlet's Ghost aludes to contemporary events with several puns on the name of Archbishop Whitgift, who has lusted for power and acquired absolute moral and spiritual authority over Queen Elizabeth:
GHOST. Ay that incestous, that adulterate beast, / With witchcraft of his wits, with traitorous girts, / O wicked wit, and gifts that have the power / So to seduce; won to his shameful lust / The will of my most seeming-virtuous Queen (1.5.47–51)
The First Quarto of Hamlet contains a version of this passage, but the word play on Whitgift's name did not appear until after the archbishop's death and the publication of the Second Quarto. By this time Queen Elizabeth had also passed away.
Hamlet's plot of seizing the throne through an incestuous marriage has affinities with a poisonous union between Church and Crown. In this passage, the most harrowing in the play, Marlowe reveals the identity of his own tormentor.
Praise for Marlowe's Hamlet
Alex Jack contends “Marlowe was spirited away to Scotland, or Russia or must likely italy, from whence he entered into ‘the Shakespeare Compact’ an arrangement under which his works appeared under that actor’s name.”—Times Literary Supplement (London)
“Alex Jack’s edition of Hamlet is lovingly and comprehensively written and takes the reader, the scholar, or layperson deep into Elizabethan and Jacobean life. It is the best book available on the Marlowe/Shake-speare problem, bar none.”—John Baker, researcher, lecturer, and writer on the Shakespeare
“A magnificent achievement . . . informative, enlightening and extremely well written . . . . a true revelation . . . . The most important book on the subject since Dolly Wraight's 'The Story that The Sonnets Tell' . . . . required reading for a future generation of Shakespeare scholars."—Peter Bull, author, Shakespeare's Sonnets
"You know Hamlet inside out, and if I were ever directing it, I’d want your guidance on my side."—Mary Ann Riel, founder of A Midsummer’s Dreaming
“Your subject strikes me as exhaustively researched, intriguing, insightful, and timely. You approach the issues in an informed but very appealing way, drawing what strike me as very plausible parallels between the literature and the lives involved in a way that invites further investigation.”—George Ferger, Shakespeare instructor and literary critic, Williamstown, Mass.
“Launch your mind into evocative and critical play with Alex Jack’s new book. Truly make Hamlet your own with these two volumes of comprehensive exploration. A must for those who love the mysteries of how . . . Shakespeare wove the fabric of theatre and literature for all generations.”—Don Campbell, musician and author of The Harmony of Health
“This book would receive the Pulitzer Prize if more people were aware of the Shakespeare Authorship question and wanted to read the books written about it. Top scholarship!”—Cal Martin, Amazon.com