Returning to Dining With Authors




The drawing of the Swan Theatre (1596)

Hamlet, Doctor Faustus, The Tempest, and Edward the Second are just a few of the plays produced by the two greatest playwrights of the Renaissance: William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. Born in the same year–1564, they were the two premier writers of their age and arguably among the  most important of any era. These are writers who have informed both my studies and entranced my imagination.  At Muhlenberg College, I teach Renaissance drama courses and Shakespeare . This summer I am teaching a course called Renaissance Plays In Process, in which we look at several plays and the circumstances surrounding them in the Renaissance as well as how they might be produced today. Whenever I can, I love teaching about these playwrights.


Christopher Marlowe

I would love to have the opportunity through a magic time machine to sit down and have a conversation with these two giants of the theater. I would invite both writers to spend an afternoon or evening at a pub–English of course–and over beer and food discuss many topics with them. I am sure that sometimes I would simply listen to them.

I would love to hear what they said about their work and how they felt about each other. I would love to learn from them the specifics of the way their plays were staged. I would ask Marlowe about his mysterious work for the Queen of England.  Was he a spy?  I do not know if he would answer, but I would still have to ask.

I would ask Shakespeare about the canon of his plays.  Were there plays he wrote that are currently lost?  If so, what are they? And I have often wondered if he ever considered writing a tragedy about King Arthur.

I also wonder how the two great writers would behave together. Would this be a polite conversation, a deep discussion of theatrical issues, or a wild and fiery debate or argument among bitter rivals?

I wish I could speak with them.



If you could speak with 2 or 3  authors, no matter living or dead, who would they be? Where would you like to have the meeting?

34 thoughts on “Returning to Dining With Authors

  1. I have never thought about talking to an author, Charles. If I did speak to one or two though, I would pick Daniel Defoe. A Journal of the Plague Year completely fascinates me and I would like to know more about that time and how he came to write that book. Another time period and book that fascinates me is The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The religious ideas and views of the time are horribly fascinating. Actually, I think I will chose one of these for your next U.L.S. series of posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this post, so insightful and engaging. If I were offered the opportunity to have a conversation with a writer/writers, I would love to have a discussion with Alice Munro and haruki Murakami. I would also love to have a conversation with Virginia Woolf, John Edward Williams and James Joyce.

    I would ask about their distinctive writing styles and discuss with them some of the central themes of their works.

    With Woolf and Murakami, I would prefer a spot with a view of the sea as I’m aware that both writers were/are emotionally attached to the ocean.

    With the other writers, I would go for a café with a nostalgic touch (Munro, Williams) and Irish pub (Joyce).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love Shakespeare; I’ve read a number of his plays, and two of Marlowe’s. Two “lost plays” attributed to Shakespeare are titled Cardenio (believed to have been based on a section of Don Quixote) and Love’s Labour’s Won (thought to be a sequel to Love’s Labour’s Lost). He’s also thought to have contributed to the anonymous play Edward III.

    That’s an interesting idea about a Shakespearean play on King Arthur. One English monarch whose life was never dramatized by Shakespeare–or any Elizabethan dramatist as far as we know–was Henry III.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d like to overhear a conversation between Annie Dillard and GK Chesterton on everything from writing to the meaning of life. I don’t think I’d be smart enough to participate much, so I’d be fine just being a fly on the wall.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I would love to talk with mystery authors Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini. They are a married couple who each have very successful series and have also written several books together. They live in San Francisco, and that’s where I’d like to meet!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There’s a magnificently insane place in Houston called The Orange Show. I would go there with Proust, Vonnegut and Maya Angelou. And since we’re in Houston, outside, I’d serve agua fresca and tacos with FLAN

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  7. As much as I’ve been looking forward to this post, I was intrigued by your own response and propose a suggestion for the teacher.

    Imagine yourself at that table with both authors. Imagine how that dialogue might go and then write where it takes you. I should be fascinated by the results should you accept the challenge and I’ve no doubt others would be as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I would love to have dinner with C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling. I think Rowling was strongly influenced by Lewis. I also think the giant chess scene in “Harry Potter” was much the same as the giant statues in “the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” It would be a lively dinner!

    Liked by 1 person

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