A warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May 1593. No reason was given for it, though it was thought to be connected to allegations of blasphemy—a manuscript believed to have been written by Marlowe was said to contain "vile heretical conceipts". On 20 May, he was brought to the court to attend upon the Privy Council for questioning. There is no record of their having met that day, however, and he was commanded to attend upon them each day thereafter until "licensed to the contrary". Ten days later, he was stabbed to death by Ingram Frizer. Whether the stabbing was connected to his arrest has never been resolved.
Marlowe was also accused by author Thomas Kyd of being an atheist, which led to questioning before the Privy Council. After all this, Marlowe still argued over a bill at a bar and began stabbing another bar patron who in self-defense turned the knife on Marlowe and killed him. Marlowe was only twenty-nine years old.
Some believe Marlowe was assassinated by a request from the Crown. Others think that Marlowe’s death was faked, and that he is the real author of Shakespeare’s plays. The theory behind this is that Marlowe faked his death, escaped, and hid so he could continue to work under the patronage of Thomas Walsingham.
On this day in 1938, the House Committee on Un-American Activities, operating out of Washington, questioned Hallie Flanagan.
Hallie Flanagan ran the Federal Theatre Project.
Joe Starnes, a congressman from Alabama, led the interrogation.
Referring to an article Hallie had written, he asked: "You are quoting from this Marlowe. Is he a Communist?"
"I am very sorry. I was quoting from Christopher Marlowe."
"Tell us who Marlowe is, so we can get the proper reference."
"He was the greatest dramatist in the period immediately preceding Shakespeare."
"Of course, we had what some people call Communists back in the days of the Greek theater."
"And I believe Mr. Euripides was guilty of teaching class consciousness, wasn't he?"
"I believe that was alleged against all of the Greek dramatists."
"So we cannot say when it began," sighed Congressman Starnes.
On this day in 1933, a U.S. federal judge rules that Ulysses, by Irish author James Joyce, is not obscene. The book had been banned immediately in both the United States and England when it came out in 1922. Three years earlier, its serialization in an American review had been cut short by the U.S. Post Office for the same reason. Fortunately, one of Joyce's supporters, Sylvia Beach, owner of the bookstore Shakespeare and Co. in Paris France, published the novel herself. Ulysses, with its radical stream-of-consciousness narrative, deeply influenced the development of the modern novel.