Thomas Kyd  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Thomas Kyd (November 3, 1558July 16, 1594) best known for his immensely popular revenge play The Spanish Tragedy.

Lewd and mutinous libels

On May 11, 1593 the Privy Council ordered the arrest of the authors of "divers lewd and mutinous libels" which had been posted around London. The next day, Kyd was among those arrested; he would later believe that he had been the victim of an informer. His lodgings were searched and instead of evidence of the "libels" there was found an Arianist tract, described by an investigator as "vile heretical conceits denying the eternal deity of Jesus Christ our LORD and Saviour found amongst the papers of Thos. Kydd (sic), prisoner ... which he affirmeth he had from C. Marley (sic)". It is believed that Kyd was tortured brutally to obtain this information. Christopher Marlowe was summoned by the Privy Council after the events of this, and, while waiting for a decision on his case, was killed in an incident involving known government agents.

Kyd was eventually released but was not accepted back into his lord's service. Believing he was under suspicion of atheism himself, he wrote to the Lord Keeper, Sir John Puck, protesting his innocence, but his efforts to clear his name were apparently fruitless. The last we hear from the playwright is the publication of Cornelia early in 1594. In the dedication to the Countess of Sussex he alludes to the "bitter times and privy broken passions" he had endured. Kyd died later that year, and was buried on August 15 in London; 30 days traditionally lapsing before burials putting his death date on July 16. He was only 35 years of age. In December of that same year, Kyd's mother legally renounced the administration of his estate, probably because it was debt-ridden.



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