Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 94 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Martha Rozett

Committee Members

Charles Shepherdson


Authors, Biography as a literary form

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


Reconstructing the lives of historical literary figures when we possess only a few disconnected pieces of evidence proves to be a challenge for biographers and historical fiction writers alike. I examine the life of Christopher Marlowe as it is presented in a number of biographies and historical fictions and identify different approaches to the Marlowe narrative and the various arguments in favor of and against these (re-)constructions. Marlowe's life with its various gaps and mysterious aspects offers a case study of the reconstruction of literary lives. Fiction writers necessarily blur the line between fact and fiction, but biographers engage in this approach as well when they employ speculation to connect details and suggest possible characterizations. Biographers assume a greater sense of responsibility for the veracity of their narratives, while fiction writers take more speculative risks. However, biographers can and do employ fiction techniques in their reconstructions of Marlowe's life.