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Great Instructor

Charles Nicholl, 31 August 1989

Ben Jonson: A Life 
by David Riggs.
Harvard, 399 pp., £27.95, April 1989, 0 674 06625 1
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... is never quite a ‘life’. Now at last we have a biography that pulls out all the right stops. David Riggs provides a fastidious, challenging and compassionate reading of the man. Not everyone will agree with some of its psychiatrist’s couch diagnoses – anal fixations, stepfather traumas, and so on – though personally I find them ...

Trust the Coroner

John Bossy: Why Christopher Marlowe was probably not a spy, 14 December 2006

Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy 
by Park Honan.
Oxford, 421 pp., £25, October 2005, 0 19 818695 9
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... Park Honan has done one of the two already, and now has done the other. Coming shortly after David Riggs’s solid, even too-solid The World of Christopher Marlowe, his Christopher Marlowe: Poet and Spy feels a little lightweight. He is probably right to say that he has a better story about Marlowe’s origins in Canterbury and his doings at Corpus ...

Posthumous Gentleman

Michael Dobson: Kit Marlowe’s Schooldays, 19 August 2004

The World of Christopher Marlowe 
by David Riggs.
Faber, 411 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 571 22159 9
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Christopher Marlowe and Richard Baines: Journeys through the Elizabethan Underground 
by Roy Kendall.
Fairleigh Dickinson, 453 pp., $75, January 2004, 0 8386 3974 7
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Tamburlaine Must Die 
by Louise Welsh.
Canongate, 149 pp., £9.99, July 2004, 1 84195 532 9
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History Play: The Lives and Afterlife of Christopher Marlowe 
by Rodney Bolt.
HarperCollins, 388 pp., £17.99, July 2004, 0 00 712123 7
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... a sizeable proportion of the detailed evidence we have about him dates from May and June 1593. For David Riggs, coming to the subject of Marlowe after writing Ben Jonson: A Life (1989), the paucity of material must have been fairly dismaying. The long-lived Jonson went out of his way to make things easy for biographers, leaving an extensive paper trail ...


Charles Nicholl: ‘The Shakespeare Circle’, 19 May 2016

The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography 
edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 107 69909 0
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... mentioned by Nicholas Rowe in 1709) adds force. The book opens with a brisk pair of essays by David Fallow and Michael Wood on the subject of his parents: John Shakespeare, born in about 1530, the son of a tenant farmer in the outlying village of Snitterfield, and Mary née Arden, some years younger, of a more prosperous family from Wilmcote. Neither of ...

Scribblers and Assassins

Charles Nicholl: The Crimes of Thomas Drury, 31 October 2002

... Cholmeley, but in each case orchestrated by Thomas Drury. A letter discovered a few years ago by David Riggs further highlights Drury’s involvement, because it shows he had a prior connection with Lord Keeper Puckering. On 8 November 1592 Lord Buckhurst wrote to Puckering: I did speak to Mr Drury according to your Lordship’s desire, and after a ...

Hooray Hen-Wees

John Christensen: Pinochet’s Millions, 6 October 2005

Capitalism’s Achilles Heel: Dirty Money and How to Renew the Free-Market System 
by Raymond Baker.
Wiley, 438 pp., £16.99, September 2005, 0 471 64488 9
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... are concerned, are largely box-ticking exercises. According to a US Senate report, Riggs Bank described one of its PEP clients as ‘a retired professional who achieved much success in his career and accumulated wealth during his lifetime for retirement in an orderly way’. The PEP in question was General Augusto Pinochet, who held between $6 ...

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