An outstanding verse novel, which recreates the dramatic story of Christopher Marlowe's life and shows how he could have written the works attributed to Shakespeare - a provocative, persuasive and enthralling tour de force.
On May 30th, 1593, a celebrated young playwright was killed in a tavern brawl in London. That, at least, was the official version. Now Christopher Marlowe reveals the truth: that his 'death' was an elaborate ruse to avoid being convicted of heresy; that he was spirited across the Channel to live on in lonely exile; that he continued to write plays and poetry, hiding behind the name of a colourless man from Stratford - one William Shakespeare.
With the grip of a thriller and the emotional force of a sonnet, this remarkable novel in verse gives voice to a man who was brilliant, passionate and mercurial. A cobbler's son who counted nobles among his friends, a spy in the Queen's service, a fickle lover and a declared religious sceptic, he was always courting trouble.
Memoir, love letter, confession, settling of accounts and a cry for recognition as the creator of some of the most sublime works in the English language, The Marlowe Papers brings Christopher Marlowe and his era to vivid life. Written by a poet and scholar, it is a work of exceptional art, erudition and imagination.
A big, clever, vividly wrought work of conspiracy fiction, filled with impeccable but lightly worn research. Elizabethan England, in all its stifling atmosphere of repression - writers were regularly being imprisoned and having their hands cut off - is brought to life by Barber's faultless poet's ear...[she]cannily uses the poetry to do just what any prose narrative aspires to: it's sharp, concise, stunningly visual. - Sunday Times - Robert Collins
This rich and charmingly playful work avoids the potential for whimsy inherent in such an undertaking. The thrill at reimagining the events and era comes through wave after wave in Barber's blank verse. - Adam O'Riordan, Sunday Telegraph
The Marlowe Papers grips. - John Sutherland, The Times
This is effortlessly better stuff than many far more trumpeted poets can produce, even on a good day...The Marlowe Papers is the best read, so far, this year. - Martin Newell, Sunday Express
this highly ambitious debut makes for an engrossing read...brought to life by smatterings of exquisitely poetic descriptions and turns of phrase worthy of the Bard himself, whoever he was. - Time Out
This terrifically accomplished and enjoyable novel/play/poem, call it what you like, restores one's faith in English fiction. - Fay Weldon
Lush, inspired and provocative, this spellbinding dossier conjures up a bewitching Marlowe. - Kirkus
Barber ingeniously weaves the action of the plays and sonnets into her story...The verse is subtle and varied enough never to disturb the ear, and in fact you forget that you're reading poetry at all. This is no bawdy cod-Shakespearean romp. - Suzi Feay, Financial Times
Ros Barber was born in Washington DC and raised in England. She is the author of three collections of poetry, the latest of which (Material, Anvil 2008) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Her short fiction, which won prizes in the Asham and Independent on Sunday short story competitions, has been published by Bloomsbury and Serpents Tail. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, Poetry London, London Magazine, The Guardian, the Independent on Sunday and many other publications; it also features in anthologies published by Faber, Virago, Anvil and Seren. As Dr. Barber she has published academic papers on Christopher Marlowe. In 2011 she was awarded the Hoffman Prize for THE MARLOWE PAPERS and in 2013 she won the Desmond Elliott Prize. She lives in Brighton and has four children.