The Oxford Marlowe: Collected Works
The Oxford Marlowe: Collected Works (hereafter, OMCW) is a new print and digital edition of the collected writings of the Elizabethan poet-dramatist, Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593). The Marlowe corpus poses unique challenges for any editorial team. His works are preserved in disparate print sources, with only the two parts of Tamburlaine published (together and anonymously) in Marlowe’s lifetime. Unlike Shakespeare or Beaumont and Fletcher, no-one sought to posthumously ‘collect’ and publish some or all of Marlowe’s works together, and one of his best-known plays, The Jew of Malta, was only first published forty years after he was slain in Deptford. Other of his works are preserved in multiple states (Doctor Faustus), corruptly transmitted versions (The Massacre at Paris), (possibly) incomplete versions (Hero and Leander), and with contested attributions on their title-pages (Dido, Queen of Carthage). As one critic put it memorably, Marlowe entered the twenty-first century as an exemplar of ‘canonical dissidence’ (Patrick Cheney, 2004). Now, as we enter the century’s third decade, the picture is complicated further:
- recent attribution studies identify Marlowe’s hand in Shakespeare’s 1-3 Henry VI, transforming our understanding of the dramatists’ relationship and these works;
- our knowledge of the theatre communities in which he worked in Shoreditch and Southwark has expanded greatly, alongside an increased awareness of the local and broader social milieu which informed his development as a poet in Canterbury, Cambridge, and beyond England’s shores;
- our understanding of the print and publishing industries and textual cultures that mediated Marlowe’s works to a buying public is much better informed;
- and, remaining central to critical discourse about the early modern period, Marlowe’s works have been revisited and re-read in terms of recent work in gender, sexuality, race, politics, religion, ecocriticism, materiality, social mobility, disability, equality, and other pressing matters.
This editorial project seeks to become a cornerstone for present and future research in these areas of Marlowe studies.
The OMCW is a research-led edition, oriented around three strands: ‘canon and chronology’, determining what it is Marlowe wrote, with whom, and when; ‘cultural history’, assessing how it is that Marlowe could write what he did, and the formative and enduring influences on his writings; and ‘performance history’, considering how Marlowe’s dramatic writings have been mediated in performance from the 1580s to the 2020s. The editorial team does not wish to simply repeat what has been attempted in previous editions, but to produce new research that will be informative and accessible to all readers of Marlowe and early modern literature.
The OMCW consists of two interconnected and interdependent editions: an Original Spelling Edition, published in an online format on Oxford Scholarly Editions online (OSEO); and a Modern Spelling Edition, published both online and in two print volumes.