Thursday, January 04, 2007


Edward Alleyn or Alleyne 1566-1626, was a leading actor of the 1590's, as well as a proprietor of playhouses, bearpits and brothels. It was the wealth from his position as "master of the King's games of bears, bulls and dogs" that allowed him to purchase in 1605 the manor of Dulwich.

Dulwich stretched from the high point of Crystal Palace [now home to a television transmitter] to a point 3 miles nearer London along a parallel ridge comprising Herne Hill, Denmark Hill and Champion Hill.

I lived at Champion Hill, some 350 years later, and on my last visit in November after a gap of thirty odd years the climb up it had become somewhat steeper than I remembered.

Alleyn founded a "College of God's gift" at Dulwich, which was attended over the years by such distinguished alumni as explorer Ernest Shackelton, C.S.Forester, Raymond Chandler, P.G.Wodehouse and myself.

Dulwich College had 6 athletic houses named for Tudor or Stuart personalities; Drake, Sidney, Raleigh, Grenville [my house which was usually last in competitions], Spenser and Marlowe.

That is why Raymond Chandler's detective is Phillip Marlowe, with an e.

It also explains why Robert B Parker presumably in homage to Chandler called his detective Spenser.
I wonder if the New Zealand writer Dame Ngaio Marsh, who was also a Shakespearian theatrical producer, thought about Edward Alleyn when she chose the name Roderick Alleyn for her CID detective.


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