Edward II (play)
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''Edward II'' is a Renaissance or Early Modern period play written by Christopher Marlowe. It is one of the earliest English history plays. The full title of the first publication is ''The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second, King of England, with the Tragical Fall of Proud Mortimer''.
Marlowe found most of his material for this play in the third volume of Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles (1587). Frederick Boas believes that "out of all the rich material provided by Holinshed" Marlowe was drawn to "the comparatively unattractive reign of Edward II" due to the relationship between the King and Gaveston. Boas elaborates, "Homosexual affection ... has (as has been seen) a special attraction for Marlowe. Jove and Ganymede in ''Dido'', Henry III and his 'minions' in ''The Massacre'', Neptune and Leander in ''Hero and Leander'', and all akin, although drawn to a slighter scale, to Edward and Gaveston."〔Boas, ''Christopher Marlowe: A biographical and critical study'' (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953), pp. 174f〕 Boas also notes the existence of a number of parallels between ''Edward II'' and ''The Massacre at Paris'', asserting that "it is scarcely too much to say that scenes xi–xxi of ''The Massacre'' are something in the nature of a preliminary sketch for ''Edward II''."〔 Marlowe stayed close to the account but embellished it with the character of Lightborn (or Lucifer) as Edward's assassin.
The play was entered into the Stationers' Register on 6 July 1593, five weeks after Marlowe's death. The earliest extant edition was published in octavo in 1594, printed by Robert Robinson for the bookseller William Jones;〔Logan and Smith, p. 31.〕 a second edition, issued in 1598, was printed by Richard Braddock for Jones. Subsequent editions were published in 1612, by Richard Barnes, and in 1622, by Henry Bell.
The 1594 first edition of the play is very rare and was uncovered only in 1876.〔''The Atheneum'', No. 2562, 2 Dec. 1876.〕 Only one copy, held at the Zentralbibliothek Zürich, was known to exist after a second was lost in the Second World War. In 2012, a third copy was discovered in Germany by (Dr. Jeffrey Masten ), a scholar of English Renaissance literature and the history of sexuality and a faculty member at Northwestern University. The volume was bound with a treatise arguing against the execution of heretics and another on Turkey and Islam.
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