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One of the smash hits of the late 1580s and 90s, Tamburlaine established blank verse as the poetic line of English Renaissance drama, Edward Alleyn as the first English star actor and Marlowe as one of the foremost playwrights of his time. The rise and fall of a Scythian peasant-warrior who conquers the Middle East and is struck down by illness after burning the books of the Koran is presented in two parts crammed with theatrical splendour and equally spectacular cruelty. Marlowe's original audiences were delighted with the blasphemous and ruthlessly ambitious hero; the introduction to this edition discusses the problems that such a character poses for modern audiences and highlights the undercurrents of the play that lead towards a more ironic interpretation.