Hesse Phillips


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Atlantic Books
2 May 2024
ISBN: 9781805460374
448 pages

From the publisher

A stunning debut on queer love, betrayal and survival in the Elizabethan Age from a vital new voice in historical fiction

Kit Marlowe: playwright, poet, lover. In the plague-stricken streets of Elizabethan England, Kit flirts with danger, leaving a trail of enemies and old flames in his wake. His plays are a roaring success; he seems destined for greatness.

But the queen's eyes are everywhere and the air is laced with paranoia. When Marlowe is arrested on charges of treason, heresy and sodomy - all of which are punishable by death - he is released on bail with the help of Thomas Walsingham, a man he presumes to be his friend, but who has in fact hired the infamous assassin Robin Poley to take care of Marlowe, fearing his own sins may come to light. Now, with the queen's spies, the vengeful Baines, and the double-crossing Poley closing in, Marlowe's last friend in the world is Ingram Frizer, a total stranger who is obsessed with his plays, and who will, within ten days' time, become first Marlowe's lover, and then his killer.

Richly atmospheric, emotionally devastating and heartrendingly imagined, Lightborne is a tender, thrilling tale of one of our most famous playwrights, and a love that flourishes within the margins.