Thomas Jenkins (headmaster)

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Thomas Jenkins was the headmaster of the King Edward VI Grammar School in Stratford-upon-Avon in England starting in 1575. As such, his claim to fame is that William Shakespeare is considered likely to have been one of his students. No school records from the period survive; however, Jenkins is believed to have been of Welsh extraction, and a Welsh schoolmaster Sir Hugh Evans features in Shakespeare's play The Merry Wives of Windsor. Jenkins would have taught Shakespeare Latin grammar and literature. It has been speculated that Jenkins taught, and awakened in Shakespeare, an interest in the legendary history of the British Isles, and as such influenced Shakespeare to create plays featuring this material, such as King Lear and Cymbeline.


  • Bradbrook, M. C. (1978). Shakespeare: The Poet in his World. New York: Columbia University Press, 11. "After two years in the petty school and two or three in the lower school with the usher, Shakespeare would pass at ten or eleven to the upper school and the guidance of the master. From 1575 to 1579 Thomas Jenkins held the post. In spite of his name, he was from not Wales but London, the son of a poor man who was servant to Sir Thomas White. Sir Thomas had founded St. John's College in Oxford and was also a great benefactor of the Merchant Taylors' School in London. If Jenkins, who had graduated from St John's College, had been a pupil at Merchant Taylors' School, he would have been taught by Richard Mulcaster, author of that great educational book the Elementarie and a fervent believer in teaching through play-acting ... Certainly all the masters in his [Shakespeare's] plays ... like putting on plays."