Zweihander Interview – Will and Kit


 Character Names: William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe

Relationship: Roommates; Playwrights; Co-authors

World: New Hell

Books:  Rogues in Hell; Dreamers in Hell; Poets in Hell; Pirates in Hell (Heroes in Hell series)

How and where did you meet?

Will Shakespeare: When alive, we met as rival playwrights, Kit holding forth in the ‘Admiral’s Men company’ wheresoever the troupe played, or at the Rose; and I at the Globe, where I owned an interest in the house.

 Kit Marlowe: Eyewash, all that. Shakespeare’s a famous liar. My Tamburlaine the Great, Parts I and II, were performed in my lifetime; the rest, posthumously, but for Dido, Queen of Carthage, writ by me and Thomas Nashe, and ‘performed’ by the ‘Children of the Chapel,’ as fair a clutch of boy charmers as ever gamboled on any stage. I met my death not too long after I met Will, a matter of my spying here and lying there, most times with Walsingham, whose wife took umbrage, as women will, when boys and men make love. Still, those plays set a new standard in quality and introduced blank verse. Mine were not, like Will’s, tripe writ for money-grubbery by the uneducated and for the uneducated. I helped Will write his Henry VI, Parts One, Two and Three and got no credit for it. Still, my own four plays performed on Earth after I arrived in Hell did what art should do: shined lights on evils hidden and calumny of the vilest kind.

 Will: Kit, let’s not linger on this question, unfortunate as it may be. We were sometime lovers, sometime haters of one another, but always haters of repression and Elizabethan frippery. If your spying got you killed, Kit, your love of controversy sparked it — yea, incited it.

 Kit: Incited? Poor choice of words, methinks. Edward the Second was first performed five weeks after my death; so that play, at least, retained its bite.

 What is it you like most about the other person?

Kit: Like about Will? His soft white skin, his ample buttocks — his mobile mouth, empowered tongue, and nubile breasts.

 Will: Kit means he adores my ear for language, my deeply probing artist’s soul, and my knack of staying out of trouble whilst I slip and slide among the rich and reprehensible at Court. Do recall I’m not the one who ended life with a bodkin thrust deep in that eye so like a doe’s.

What is it you hate most about each other?

Will: We said that. But, since you ask for more: his blasphemy and his need to fill his pages with the ‘vile heretical conceits’ that sent him to trial before the Privy Council.

 Kit: We told you that, and, like the Privy Council, you’ll acquit me on the grounds that truth itself can’t be denied — for long.

Will: Christopher Marlowe, like your English Agent in the Massacre at Paris, I hate your overweening pride and lurid need to confess your days of secret agency under so thin a guise as that play. What were you thinking, to warn Elizabeth of agitators, a theme far too dangerous to survive? And how many refugees from the low countries died of your ideas planted in their tiny little heads?

Do you think your partnership will last?

Kit: Henry Sixth answers that, for my part. It’s what Shakey would have writ had he an education or a life made dangerous enough to enjoy. And the rest, you see before you: two souls forever doomed to one another’s company in the bowels of perdition, to count eternity’s every day, and nights more deadly still.

Will: Kit’s a good boy, a young fellow led astray by childish derring-do, and with a taste for the hurly-burly that snuffed his life before its time. But now I have infernity to reform him, and Satan provides the irritant around which we’ll secrete a necklace of pearls while we write as we’ve never writ before.

 Describe the other person (max 100 words):

Kit: Will, go ye first, and light our path with your dulcet tones, so like a cello but a string or two short.

Will: Master Marlowe, my thanks for your recital, though it best be delivered later and revisited daily, as the Privy Council sentenced you to come before them every day: every day of the ten you had yet to live . . . Withal, I’ll try to answer the question: this Marlowe creature hungers for adoration and thirsts for justice, both of which were as precious scarce in life as they remain dubious in afterlife. Nevertheless, his talent is wider than the face of Paradise and tempered by a lifetime few would have dared to live — and I love him for his childish heart and indomitable soul.

Kit: My turn, then, to laud the Bard in terms free of spite and full with admiration: such a mind for the human animal has ne’er been seen on the black earth — not before he lived his quick span, or at any time thereafter. Although glorifying humanity may be an empty effort, he’s made them look into themselves, and find there what joy can be had, and give it value.

 Describe how you think the other person sees you

Will: I think not, for safety’s bereftest sake.

Kit: As my better half insinuates, ‘twould take a three-part comedy of errors to do that story justice. So I’ll not begin it, lest it never stop till eternity runs out.

Tell us a little about your adventures.

Will: Then or now? Becoming famous in life holds no candle to sustaining afterlife. We’ve written three plays now for Satan, and suffered the attendant woes of those who know true ignominy. We wrote Hell Bent, and died in it every night. We wrote The Witch and the Tyrant, and fell afoul of its graveyard stench. We wrote another, Pirates in Perdition, and found the very sounding of its name an incantation to summon fiends and demons and all manner of unexculpated souls.

Kit: Read our plays writ here, to Abbadon’s order, or don’t. But be warned: you’ll risk your wizened hearts every time you turn our pages and let your eyes rub words too dangerous to speak aloud.

Tell us about your world – and your part of it.

Will: Hell is the Reformation come to grief, with no Third Act to cure it.

Kit: Hell is where the heart is, and seldom beats. But when it does, that heart beats as only love can. We are Satan’s personal poets, and no worse can befall a soul who yet owns an ear for courage or for rhyme.

Where do you see yourselves in five years?

Kit: Right here. Scoffing at evil while we glorify every flaw that makes man human. What else, in hell, is a playwright to do?

Will: Enough, Kit. The last line of this comedy is mine: We’ll be here as long as ghosts roam the world and fools rule it; as long as regrets power penance and singers keen their pain.


You can find Will and Kit in the following:

Janet Morris on Amazon

Perseid Press Website


A Day in Hell with William Shakespeare

Hell week was such a lot of fun I decided to linger. Here’s an interview with William Shakespeare, the greatest playwrite of them all.

Welcome to the Hell Interview Channel, brought to you infernally hour after hour.

Name (s): William Shakespeare; Bard of Avon.

Age (before death and after you ended up in HSM’s domain): Born in April, 1564, I died at age 52 on April 23, 1616, at Stratford-upon-Avon, and woke here, where I languish, ‘not of an age,’ as Ben Johnson said of my work, ‘but for all time’.

Please tell us a little about yourself. I’m a poet, a playwright, sometimes an actor, oft a lover; less oft a villain; always a fool for love and a dupe for words.

Who were you in life? I became an actor in 1585, married Anne Hathaway when I was eighteen; two days after I died I was buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church, so ’tis said. I don’t know the truth of this; I’d left earthly life behind before then: the body is not the man; in the soul is where the quintessence of a man doth reside, not in his dust. I learned that the hard way.

How do you think you ended up in Hell? How did I end in hell? The infernal bailiff came and battered down my soul’s flimsy doors, brought me here. For my crimes, my excesses, my lies and conceits; for my pride, for strutting and fretting my hour upon that stage – for all those quirks which make a man be me and not thee. For ’twere I thee, I’d not be damned, nor be in Hell. But I am damned, and in Hell. Since Satan loves the devilish man, all those geniuses like me are here. My sins of overweening creativity and guile lay without number on the path that brought me to perdition, where feuds never end and hatreds grow like weeds upon eternity’s boggy riverbank. Pray, why think you that I’m in hell? For Kit Marlowe’s sake? For my earthly debts of connivance and inaction? For leaving Anne Hathaway my “second best bed”? That bed lay cold too much; until Marley died, and too long after. ‘Cold comfort,’ Kit would say of that. How, you want to know? Why, is the more burning question, speeding on a sword’s point toward my pigeon-breasted soul. For loving Christopher Marlowe better than any woman? Could be, since Satan so tries to turn my pretty head until I’m daft as a loon at midday. For purchasing the gatehouse of the Blackfriars priory? For becoming a rich man when riches so corrupt? For constructing the Globe Theatre, home to every sort of player and much jollity and debauch? Or for playing Hamlet’s father every time we staged it? Being a ghost did suit me in life, and so now it suits me well in afterlife: what ye sow, ye reap in measures fit to your crimes. Here in Hell I have infernity to answer for my evildoing. Or not.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. Receding forehead, spade-nosed, chin mostly beard, earring’d and round-shouldered.

Where do you live in Hell? Tell us about your residence and area. Live in Hell, you say? None lives in hell. Rather we do languish. Kit Marlowe and I have a dozen beds now – I’d have left him my best one, but he preceded me here and set up our house and all the horrors in it. Since Satan, fair-fledged fiend of my acquaintance, became the patron of my art, we divide our time between New Hell’s Old Rogue Theatre and the Pandemonium Theatre, where the Great Deceiver doth keep a box. Now there’s a talent in that devil to put a plot together so you squirm, and weep, and beg for mercy, be you in the audience or among the doomed players. I die nightly in one of Satan’s plays, and wrote the part myself, and fell into the trap he set for me, of writing it as he’d like it…  So, wherever Kit is, I make a home; wherever that is, Satan is, and he invades it and inveigles what he will from us lowly playwrights.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Is your moral code the same as it was in life? A moral code? Make ’em laugh, make ’em cry, tell ’em truth and by the by commit this literature or that tragedy, while the comedy of afterlife underscores it all. Hold your loved ones to your breast:  only love outlasts eternity.

Would you kill for those you love? After all, sending someone to the Undertaker is not very nice! I’m a lover, a plotter, a deviser. Kit’s the fighter. I can wield a stage sword; push a poisoned cup into an actor’s hand – but to kill? For real? I’d thought to be the villain in our play, Hell Bent, but when I stab the breast I love the best and watch Marley die again, I am unmanned. Of all things, I fear that dagger which reappears whenever death comes to take Kit from me. In the manifold hells of creation, we two could lose each other, wander solitary for eons. Death, be not so cruel as to leave us, alone upon your farthest shore. Would I kill, you ask, to preserve a loved one, protect a smile? Of course. Why else would a man take up arms but against outrageous fortune?

Would you die for those you love? Die, being a relative term….I have died for those I love… how many times? I’ve lost count. I die for Kit Marlowe, at his hands, six nights a week and twice on Sadderdays whenever Hell Bent plays at a theatre near you. Dying for any reason but love is the oldest sin, and sinners deserve to be here. And are: I see an audience full o’ them, nightly.

Do you have any phobias? Are you plagued by anything particular in Hell? My phobias in Hell are a poor poet’s tragedy: Satan toys with my foolish heart, but how to resist? One look at this Fallen Angel once God’s greatest creation, and all sense leaves a mortal, whilst infatuation nearly drowns me:  a smell like sunshine in a meadow; a voice like water coursing; a touch like every good thing ever felt: how to resist winged temptation, smiling, beckoning? Meanwhile, Kit will stand before me, take a spear in the chest to protect me, risk ending on the Undertaker’s Table to save me from it, again and again. If I’m plagued in Hell, it’s by adoration’s bite.

What do you think Satan’s most creative punishment is here? Me. I write the plays of hell with truth to make these idiot sons of human bellies quake and quaver; I show them their wastrel selves, frittering bit by bit, their own souls away. ’Tis as I’ve always writ, but here … the results are not poetry, but prose. Deaf ears can’t keep out honest words, as Hamlet’s father couldn’t keep poison from seeping from ear to brain, death in every drop.

Who are your friends here?

Discounting lovers? None. The two, too often, are the same.

You propose to count my lovers, do you? Those who use me to their ends? Take you down more paper, for this list will reach to Tartaros and back. There’s Kit, and Burbage, Bacon, DeVere, and … so forth. As I said at least once before, our indiscretions serve us well. I’ve had collaborators in this bed or that, but none to rival Kit, who writes as well as I, or better.

What friends have I? My friends are those who bring a Muse with them when they come. All others are cocks on the walk or hens a-brooding.

Who are your enemies? Now there’s a list to wrap the world in colored paper. All too blunt of wit to read me; all compared as dim lights against me; those who try to be me — and those to whom I owed a toss in the hay or a roll in the mud, or even a farthing or two left unpaid. Not only demons do hate me, but they hate what I’ve written, what effect it’s had. Satan’s daughter called my work ‘humanizing drivel.’ So enemies abound: as on earth, so in hell, the same.

If I recall relationships are… difficult; is this the side of humanity you miss the most? Where fools be, relationships abound. Dupes under a man’s control are those he doth miss: to send one here, to call one there, and be sure the bidden do exactly as you meant – even when it’s the opposite of what you’ve said. All the hells are full of dreamers and schemers and all their tiny hearts are full of plots and schemes and stories. If you’re talking about relationships among the souls who ended here, that is. If you’re alluding to my affair with His Satanic Majesty, leave off.

I commit my heart to none, and this doth save me. Shriveled and whimpering, I keep it in a box, stage right, where it thumps and thuds and beats. And there I bid it stay, until none seek to pierce or rip my soul asunder using it as their prop, as I once used poor Yorick’s skull.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. An interesting fact?  Here’s a fact: no man can enclose his universe if he cannot come to terms with himself.


Author notes:

Author name: Janet Morris and Chris Morris

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links

Lawyers in Hell

Rogues in Hell

Dreamers in Hell

Poets in Hell

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.

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A Week in Hell – Day 5 – Marlowe

Welcome to the Hell Interview Channel, brought to you infernally hour after hour. Today we are joined by one of the Pit’s most talented poets…. Over to you Kit…

Name (s) Christopher Marlowe Kit Marlowe, Marley, Morley.

Age (before death and after you ended up in HSM’s domain).  I was twenty-nine when murdered. I’ve been in Hell since 1593 A.D.  How many years is that?  Time in hell is impossible to gauge.  I was killed on a Wednesday, May 30, supposedly for my heretical beliefs, but more for my spying.  A man had to make a living in those days.

Please tell us a little about yourself. I was a good friend of William Shakespeare, and still am.  We wrote plays and more together, and still do. I was killed at the behest of a woman jealous of her husband’s regard for me, but the reason given was my ‘vile heretical concepts,’ although the wittol who stabbed me in the eye could barely read. I was then in Sir Francis Walsingham’s intelligence service, and called to answer questions by Privy Council.  Someone didn’t want to hear the answers.

Who were you in life? A famous poet, a playwright, a spy, a rakehell, a lover of pleasure, boys and girls, men and women, and the sound of words in my ears. And still am all of those.

How do you think you ended up in Hell? ’Tis said I am in hell for writing these lines in my Dr. Faustus:  “Hell is just a frame of mind.”  Or so Satan tells me.

Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. I look as I looked when I died: young, fetching.

Where do you live in Hell? Tell us about your residence and area. I live wherever Will Shakespeare lives, these days, in New Hell or Pandemonium, behind the Devil’s own theatre, if we’re not playing at the Old Rogue Theatre in new Hell.  When in New Hell I have as many beds as I have fingers, but since Will I leave them cold and lonely.

Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Is your moral code the same as it was in life? A moral code? In Hell and life, Don’t get caught.  In literature: Honor is purchased by the deeds we do; honor is not won until some honorable deed is done. Virtue is the fount whence honor springs…

… and so sprang I, full formed from Satan’s breast like all the rest of these souls come home to roost.

Would you kill for those you love? After all sending someone to the Undertaker is not very nice! I’ve killed for less.  I’d kill for Will Shakespeare, for that soul above all others whom I love.  In life I cared for nothing but my writing and my pleasure…  and a bit of ‘who’s your father’ wherever I could find it.

Would you die for those you love? Die, being a relative term….Death in hell, like death on earth, is overrated. I’d die a thousand deaths to save Will, or any other so unfortunate to have me as a lover.  But I’d die first for my work, for my honor, for my heart – and did, in life.

Do you have any phobias? Are you plagued by anything particular in Hell? Phobias? My heart is fixed on one soul alone, and that soul is my gravest weakness. I don’t want to lose track of Will Shakespeare, now that I’ve found him again. To protect that tender soul from Satan is worth more to m now than protecting all of England from her foes was when I breathed a poet’s air in life.

What do you think Satan’s most creative punishment is here? Ah, the Deceiver is clever.  He holds out blandishments to the souls he wants to torture, and twists them here and leads them there, offers all and takes it back again between two heartbeats. He’s got the right job, that devil.  Everything I thought became the devil best in Faustus only forshadowed Satan’s wiles.

Who are your friends here? You want a friend in hell, you say? Get a dog, if you can find one that’s not deathly rabid. Byron did – and says it’s really his dog Boatswain, not rabid now, never mind that this dog’s coal black and that in life his Boatswain was black and white. Will Shakespeare is my closest friend, a bosom friend, you’d say. Then Byron, who drags along behind us now and again. But friends in Hell are boils to be pricked and burst forth poison. They don’t last long. I have Will, but for the nonce, I fear. And without him, Hell will be without its single light of grace.

Who are your enemies? My enemies? Abounding. Jealous louts, foolish intelligencers of Satan’s will; now add that whole crew from the Iliad, because we used a few skins of theirs in our plays. And Satan, I dare say, is my worst enemy of all, but so sly:  the worst enemies are always those who pretend to be your friend. Every overreaching protagonist in my plays has his like in Hell, and I’m faced by every one of them.

If I recall relationships are… difficult. Is this the side of humanity you miss the most? Once I said, and still believe, “All they that love not tobacco and boys are fools.” But in Hell, as I’ve been known to say, ‘boys are few and tobacco tainted.’  So I make do with whatever comes my way that’s an untainted slip for my boat.

Making love in hell is a fool’s errand, leading straight to death and the Undertaker’s table. Harboring love in Hell is my greatest weakness now, as it is the downfall of any honest soul. But love I do, that mad and delicate Will Shakespeare, whom the Devil will pry away from me for pure amusement. That I know the truth makes living this farce it not one whit less dire.

Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. Will Shakespeare and I were born on the same day. While I lived, I raised blank verse to an art form; too bad my imitators couldn’t keep it there. I earned my way through school engaging in ‘matters touching on the benefit of my country.’ I wanted most of all to be an atheist, but that didn’t keep me from ending here. I got to hell by grabbing Ingram Frizer’s dagger whilst he was threatening me that day in Deptford at Eleanor Bull’s house. We struggled. The rest is a history much disputed. I didn’t die immediately after Frizer stabbed me in the eye, for I recall it well enough. And it hurt like very hell. Pick any story about me you wish. They’re all likely to be partly true.

Author notes:

Book(s) in which this character appears plus links

Lawyers in Hell

Rogues in Hell

Dreamers in Hell

Poets in Hell

Author name


Chris Morris (Christopher Crosby Morris)

Website/Blog/Author pages etc.


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