The Marlowe Kit Kent's Remarkable Writers Exhibition

I had time to kill in Canterbury yesterday. I was meandering around the lanes off the main high street and when I found myself on Stour Street, I saw a sign about a 'Free Exhibition' by - who I'd previously not heard of - The Marlowe Kit. 

I ummed about going in at first, thinking perhaps it was a theatre exhibition (not my cup of tea) because The Marlowe is the local theatre, eponymously named after the legendary playwright. 
I'm glad I went in after all because it was actually Kent's Remarkable Writers Exhibition. The exhibition explores the life and works of Joseph Conrad, a Polish-born writer who relocated to Canterbury. The exhibition included 'his study'  to explore (type writers free to use and everything) and sculptures capturing the essence of his sea-themed writing. 
And of course you couldn't mention Kentish writers without talking about Christopher Marlowe - sometimes known as Kit (the name is all starting to make sense now!) The exhibition gave some information on his life and career; like the suspicions he was a spy - after all, he has been called "the Elizabethan James Bond" - and an atheist (shock horror!) I really enjoyed the contextual information that the Christopher Marlowe exhibit featured: the backdrop of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, the Barthlomew's Day Massacre (and how this led to the subsequent introduction of the word 'massacre' into the English language) and a French bible that escaped it. 
 What I enjoyed most was the section dedicated to Aphra Behn. A female playwright writing in a time when women were harshly punished merely for speaking what was considered 'out of turn'. The contrast between playbills displaying "written by Mrs Behn", and a display of 'The Scold's Bridle' - a brutal iron 'cap' with a metal piece to press down or push up the tongue, that was fixed around the head of a woman who had spoken out - was profound. Reading on one side of the room the testimony of a woman who was flogged out of town wearing The Scold's Brindle (when, "they had not anything to lay my charge",) then on the other side of the room, how Behn wrote a play named, "The Forc'd Marriage" which touches upon themes like sex and power, seemed so stark and telling of the particular class struggle of women. I really like to imagine what Aphra Behn would be like if she appeared on a modern writers roundtable! 

I won't give too much away; you should go and see the exhibition yourself! But it's a pleasant way to spend half an hour (longer if you have children who'd take advantage of the interactive activities like dressing up,) and is a little peek at the careers of three literary creatives and the rich history they lived in. 

The exhibition is open on weekends and is totally free. You can find out more information here.


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