Christopher, Or Kit Marloyte, an English dramatic poet, born in Canterbury in 1564, killed in Deptford, June 16, 1593. His father, a shoemaker, obtained for him admission into King's school, Canterbury. He was afterward entered as a pensioner of Corpus Christi college, Cambridge, where he received the degree of bachelor of arts in 1583 and of master in 1587. In 1586 he produced the first part of his tragedy of "Tamburlaine," which exhibits more action on the stage, a more dramatic dialogue, and a far more varied and skilful versification, than any English play which had preceded it; but it was ridiculed for its bombastic style and extravagant scenes. It was printed with a second part in 1590. His second play was the "Tragical History of the Life and Death of Dr. Faustus," a powerful though irregular drama, its poetical beauties being often intermingled with low buffooneries. The hero makes a pact with Lucifer, to whom he disposes of his soul on condition of having a familiar spirit and unlimited power at his command for 24 years. The awful melancholy of the fiend, as contrasted with the malignant mirth of Goethe's Mephistopheles, the struggles of awakened conscience in the hero, and the splendid horror of the termination, are its most striking features.
The German puppet play constructed from this drama was the foundation of Goethe's great tragedy, which consequently in the opening has a striking resemblance to Marlowe's. "The Jew of Malta" has more vigorous passages than are to be found in any other Elizabethan play except those of Shakespeare. His "Edward II." contains a death scene which Charles Lamb says " moves pity and terror beyond any scene, ancient or modern." Several other plays of doubtful authorship have been attributed to him, and it is probable that the second and third parts of Henry VI. in Shakespeare were mostly written by Marlowe. He also made translations from Ovid, so licentious that the archbishop of Canterbury ordered them to be burned, yet they have been often reprinted. He is supposed to have been an actor as well as playwright, led a dissipated life, is stated to have held atheistical opinions, though there is no proof of this in his plays, and died from a wound received in a disgraceful quarrel. An edition of his works by Alexander Dyce was published in London in 1850, in 3 vols.