Edward II



  • A tragedy by Christopher Marlowe, sometimes consideredhis masterpiece; it was a major influence on Shakespeare's RichardII. First performed in 1593 in London, it paints a bleak pictureof power and human relationships.

    Edward II was the first English play to feature homosexuality.The weak king is fond of the flatterer Gaveston, who has been forcedinto exile in Ireland. Queen Isabella hopes that her husband willnow pay more attention to her, but he refuses unless she uses herinfluence to bring Gaveston back to court. When Gaveston is executedEdward shifts his affections to a new favourite, Spenser. The Queenand her lover, Mortimer, rebel against the king, who is eventuallydeposed and murdered.

    In 1969 Ian McKellen played the roles of Marlowe's EdwardII and Shakespeare's Richard II on alternate nights at the MermaidTheatre, London.