Marlowe and modern poetry at twilight during Open Cambridge

For one night only, the doors of the Parker Library will open in the evening for a special exhibition of rare, first editions, and early printed copies of medieval and renaissance poetry, featuring the works of Corpus Christi College alumnus, Christopher Marlowe

While Christopher Marlowe famously invites readers to “Come live with me and by my love”, Open Cambridge invites you to ‘Come listen to me and be enthralled’ at the Marlowe and modern poetry at twilight event on Friday 13 September.

For this is not just any poetry exhibition – you will wander around the beautiful Parker Library (seen in the image above) at Corpus Christi College to the sound of poetry recitals, as the light gradually fades through the windows. Michael Brown, Angela Neenan, Sitara Amin Priddle and Janis Adunei will give live readings of renaissance poetry and their own original compositions as you peruse the pop-up exhibition, which includes the works of one of Corpus Christi College’s most famous alumni, Christopher Marlowe.

And poetry is not all that you will see as the College Archivist is contributing Marlowe’s student record and (unpaid) buttery bills, which he, clearly in high spirits, signed ‘Merlin’. However, the focus isn’t all on Marlowe as a range of works will be showcased, including those from pirates: Sir Walter Raleigh, more famously known for sailing the high seas on swashbuckling adventures, was also an Elizabethan poet whose work is featured. Interestingly, this points to how poetry allows us to see famous figures from a different perspective… so, what else might you find at this exhibition?

You may have heard of William Shakespeare but do you know John Fletcher? Likely also an alumnus of Corpus Christi, he succeeded Shakespeare as house playwright for the King’s Men and, during his lifetime, was the more famous of the two. He even wrote a sequel to The Taming of the Shrew, called The Tamer Tamed, where the women take back control from the men (on view at this exhibition). Usually, the two plays were performed together and contemporary critics rated Fletcher’s play more highly than Shakespeare’s!

Housed in the College’s Wilkins’ Room since 1829, the Parker collection is renowned for its rare books and manuscripts and particularly its medieval texts bequeathed to the College in 1575 by the incumbent Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker, a former Master of the College. Yet more recent gems are found within the collection, such as the entire run of the Sceptre Press. Founded in 1969 by Matthew Booth, the Press published works by well-known and lesser known English and American poets throughout the 1970s, including Ted Hughes, Robert Bly, Robert Creeley and Harry Guest. As the volumes were set by hand, they are also works of art and craftsmanship where the poets influenced the design, right down to the fonts and layout chosen.

Showcasing the breadth of the Parker Library collection, this event grew from an idea born at a photography exhibition of College libraries. Michael Brown, Cambridge poet, and Anne McLaughlin, sub-librarian, met in front of the Parker Library photograph and from there the collaboration grew into the chance for you to explore the Library at an exclusive time (tours are usually conducted during the day). There are limited places, so book quickly and don’t miss out on another rare treat: the chance to see Corpus’s Hall, with its stained-glass windows, lit from within as you leave the Library!

As Marlowe closed The Passionate Shepherd to His Love with “If these delights thy mind may move/ Then live with me, and by my love”, so we leave you with the invitation that if this insight into the exhibition delights you, we look forward to welcoming you at twilight on Friday 13 September.

Open Cambridge takes place on 13 - 14 September and offers the public a chance to visit a range of stunning buildings and hidden curiosities. There are more than 80 events in this year’s programme, including Open Eddington. 

A full copy of the programme can be downloaded here.

Keep up to date with the Festival on social media via Twitter.


Open Cambridge is a busy weekend and many of the events require pre-booking in advance.

Bookings opened on Monday 19th August and places can be booked online at or by calling 01223 766 766. Phonelines open between 11am – 3pm, Monday to Friday. There are also plenty of drop-in events for people to enjoy. 

Open Cambridge is part of the national Heritage Open Days scheme. Designed to offer special access to places that are normally closed to the public or charge admission, the initiative provides an annual opportunity for people to discover the local history and heritage of their community. For more information please visit:


The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

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