10 Likely Facts About Shakespeare’s First Schoolmaster
- It is not known when or where Simon Hunt was born or baptised and little is known of his life.
- He is listed as having worked as a teacher at the King Edward VI School in Stratford-upon-Avon.
- It is believed that William Shakespeare was educated at this school for seven years, starting in 1571 at the age of seven, and it is likely that Simon Hunt was his first teacher.
- Simon Hunt was known to be a zealous Catholic – a dangerous practice in the Elizabethan era.
- In 1575 Simon Hunt left the school to become a Catholic priest.
- He travelled to Douai – now in France but formerly in the Spanish Netherlands – to begin his training at the English Catholic Seminary (which moved temporarily to Rheims in 1578 when all the English at Douai were expelled).
- Sometime after this he travelled to Rome, joining the order of The Society of Jesus (known as the Jesuits).
- He did not take the journey to Rome alone but was accompanied by Robert Debdale, a former Stratford pupil of his from Shottery, Anne Hathaway’s home village.
- In 1580 Simon Hunt became Penitentiary of St Peter’s in Rome.
- Records show that he died in Rome in 1585, having never returned to England.
This photo shows the Edward VI schoolroom where Simon Hunt is thought to have taught. It is believed John Shakespeare, glover and local council member, worked in offices below this room.
The above details are correct to the best of my ability but please let me know if you notice any inaccuracies. I am indebted to a variety of online resources for my research. This BBC news story gives further information on Shakespeare’s education: