A Dead Man in Deptford

A Dead Man in Deptford
First edition
AuthorAnthony Burgess
Cover artisttop: "London from Southwark" (c. 1630, Dutch School)
bottom: Anonymous portrait 1585, believed to show Christopher Marlowe
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreHistorical fiction
Publication date
6 May 1993
Media typePrint (hardcover & paperback)
Pages288 (hardcover)
823/.914 20
LC ClassPR6052.U638 D42 1995

A Dead Man in Deptford is a 1993 novel by Anthony Burgess, the last to be published during his lifetime. It depicts the life and character of Christopher Marlowe, a renowned playwright of the Elizabethan era.


Reckless but brilliant Cambridge scholar Kit Marlowe is conscripted by Francis Walsingham to be a spy for Queen Elizabeth. It is love at first sight for Kit and Walsingham's young cousin Thomas, and Kit is soon sent to the English college at Rheims to ferret out recusants conspiring against the Queen and her Church of England. Walsingham and his agents have enabled a conspiracy, later known as the Babington Plot, as a means to effect the execution of Elizabeth's rival, Mary, Queen of Scots. Kit is instrumental in the arrest of the conspirators, but horrified by their execution.

Marlowe is portrayed as a secretive, solitary and eventually isolated person. Burgess explores his sexual addiction and passion for the theatre.


A feature film adaptation was announced in September 2010, starring Sam Riley as Kit and costarring James Purefoy, Ray Winstone, Ed Speleers, and Adam Sinclair in undisclosed roles. The screenplay was written by Michael Elias, and Nick Copus was set to direct.[1][2][3]


  1. ^ Kilda, Gregg (12 September 2010). "Sam Riley to play Kit Marlowe in Dead Man". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  2. ^ Fischer, Russ (13 September 2010). "Sam Riley Will Play Christopher Marlowe in A Dead Man In Deptford". /Film. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  3. ^ White, James (13 September 2010). "Sam Riley Is A Dead Man In Deptford". Empire. Archived from the original on 7 July 2017. Retrieved 7 July 2017.

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