22 MAY 1993, Page 24

Cook's slicing edge

Sir: Reviews are very much the luck of the draw, good or bad, but when three novels on the same theme are published together — A Dead Man in Deptford by Anthony Burgess, The Slicing Edge of Death by Judith. Cook and Christoferus or Tom Kyd's Revenge by Robin Chapman (Books, 8 May) — it seems somewhat bizarre to give the task of reviewing two of them to the writer of the third, leaving aside Chapman's hidden agenda, which seems to have been to get his own back after the drubbing he has received at the hands of some reviewers of his own book.

But his review goes far beyond criticism of my book into impugning my profession- alism as a writer. His sneering comment that because I live in the West Country and have done some work for a theatre in Ply- mouth I can have little idea of theatre either in Marlowe's day or now needs to be answered. I have published 16 books, five on theatre of Marlowe's period, including two on Shakespeare and a third on his con- temporaries, the latter with a foreword by Trevor Nunn. I have written two books on directors and the way they work, from Peter Brook to Deborah Warner. I have had seven plays given professional productions, three of which were in the West Country, but the rest outside, including London.

As to accuracy, in his book, Marlowe's three murderers are killed by Thomas Kyd, when, in fact, they lived long after Kyd's death, and Marlowe is not boringly stabbed in the eye but has his erect penis cut off and stuffed in his mouth. With regard to the language used, Mr Chapman should have given us some of his own — such gems as: `Jeremy, you old tosser, what's for din- dins?'

Judith Cook

5 Higher Lux Street, Liskeard, Cornwall