Thomas Kyd  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Thomas Kyd (November 3, 1558July 16, 1594) Although well-known in his own time, Kyd fell into obscurity until 1773 when an early editor of the The Spanish Tragedie, Thomas Hawkins, discovered that the playwright was named as its author by Thomas Heywood in his Apologie for Actors (1612). A hundred years later, scholars in Germany and England began to shed light on his life and work, including the controversial finding that he may have been the author of a Hamlet play pre-dating Shakespeare's.

Lewd and mutinous libels

On May 11, 1593 the Privy Council ordered the arrest of the authors of "divers lewd and mutinous libels" which had been posted around London. The next day, Kyd was among those arrested; he would later believe that he had been the victim of an informer. His lodgings were searched and instead of evidence of the "libels" there was found an Arianist tract, described by an investigator as "vile heretical conceits denying the eternal deity of Jesus Christ our LORD and Saviour found amongst the papers of Thos. Kydd (sic), prisoner ... which he affirmeth he had from C. Marley (sic)". It is believed that Kyd was tortured brutally to obtain this information. Marlowe was summoned by the Privy Council after the events of this, and, while waiting for a decision on his case, was killed in an incident involving known government agents.

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