The Hoffman Prize
Calvin Hoffman, author of The Man who was Shakespeare (1955), died in 1988, still absolutely convinced that Marlowe was the true author of Shakespeare's works. Anxious that the theory should not die with him, he left a substantial sum of money with the King's School, Canterbury—where Marlowe went as a boy—for them to administer an annual essay competition on this subject. The Trust Deed stipulated that the winning essay should be the one:
...which in the opinion of the King's School most convincingly authoritatively and informatively examines and discusses in depth the life and works of Christopher Marlowe and the authorship of the plays and poems now commonly attributed to William Shakespeare with particular regard to the possibility that Christopher Marlowe wrote some or all of those poems and plays or made some inspirational creative or compositional contributions towards the authorship of them. (Emphasis added)
The adjudication of the prize, which is of several thousand pounds (UK), has always been delegated to an eminent professional Shakespearian scholar and, despite Hoffman's clear intentions, the winning essay has seldom espoused the Marlovian cause, the prize having usually gone to essays along entirely orthodox lines. A further stipulation of the initial Trust Deed was that:
If in any year the person adjudged to have won the Prize has in the opinion of The King's School furnished irrefutable and incontrovertible proof and evidence required to satisfy the world of Shakespearian scholarship that all the plays and poems now commonly attributed to William Shakespeare were in fact written by Christopher Marlowe then the amount of the Prize for that year shall be increased by assigning to the winner absolutely one half of the capital or corpus of the entire Trust Fund...
The amount in this case would run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The original hopes of Hoffman himself may have been largely ignored, but the benefit of this has undoubtedly been that far more research into Christopher Marlowe has resulted, and several books about him produced which would probably not have been written otherwise.
Other articles related to "the hoffman prize, hoffman, prize":
... Marlovian theory should not die with him, Hoffman arranged in 1984 a deal with Marlowe's school, The King's School, Canterbury, that in exchange for his leaving a large sum of money ... Nobody has come anywhere near achieving the latter, and Hoffman's intentions for the essay have been reinterpreted nowadays as a prize for "a distinguished publication on ... Hoffman Memorial Prize was awarded, only four of the thirty prize-winning essays have actually espoused his theory ...
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