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Love Through the Ages

10. Marlowe: Edward II

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About this Lecture


Up until now, we have considered love between man and woman. Now, however, we turn to one of the great expressions of male-male love in the Early Modern period, Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II. This is a play about the historical figure of Edward II and his male lover, Piers Gaveston. The two share the first male-male kiss on the English stage, though by the end the majority prevail and both Edward and Gaveston are brutally murdered. But it’s clear that Marlowe allows Edward a dignity in his humiliation and disgrace, and Edward and Gaveston are presented as a couple no different from Romeo and Juliet or Petruchio and Katherina. Love doesn’t always have to be a man and a woman.


This course explores the theme of love from the earliest English literature to the present day – from authors that you have likely heard of, such as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Byron and Keats, to authors that are perhaps less well-known. This is a course that celebrates love in all it forms and between all kinds of people.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2018, August 15). Love Through the Ages - Marlowe: Edward II [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Love Through the Ages – Marlowe: Edward II." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,