The Invisible College

The School Of Night

Cloaked in secrecy, a clandestine group that matches the characteristics of the School of Night is known to have met during the latter part of Elizabeth I’s reign. Writing in 1592, the Jesuit priest Robert Persons expressly referred to this society that included Sir Walter Raleigh and Christopher Marlowe, branding them ‘The School of Atheism’ in accusation of the apparent topic of conversations that took place. As mentioned of Dee, some exiled Catholics in Antwerp made a similar accusation.

Of the group’s real name, little has come to light. Rather than representing any official title, a reference to the ‘School of Night’ comes from a line in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, which some have speculated was a coded admittance of the society’s existence and that Shakespeare was a member.

That meetings of some kind did take place between Raleigh and other prominent statesmen of the day can be confirmed, albeit without any sinister connotations or political agenda. Atheism at the time was a serious charge and potentially could amount to treason. In addition to the name School of Night, it has been suggested the group used the caduceus as their logo and, as such, were also known in certain circles as ‘The Dragon Men’.