Merchant Taylors’ has produced great scholars, writers and statesmen throughout the ages. The very first generation of boys at the school contained Sir Edmund Spenser the poet, playwrights Thomas Kyd and John Webster, and Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, the translator of the King James’ Bible. All through its history there have been great men: Clive of India; Samuel Palmer the artist; John Walter, founding editor of The Times; even Titus Oates the conspirator (expelled). In the twentieth century, OMTs have included Sir James Jeans the Astronomer Royal; Lord Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury; Sir John Sulston, Nobel Prize winner; E. H. Carr, the internationally renowned historian; Reginald Maudling, Chancellor of the Exchequer; and Boris Karloff, Frankenstein. There have been physicists, biologists, Egyptologists, revolutionaries and parliamentarians. Indeed, there is a strong OMT presence in both Houses of Parliament.
This tradition constantly renews itself. In the last twenty years, Conn Iggulden took his love of classics and the traditional values of a Merchant Taylors’ education and produced the best-selling ‘Emperor’ novels and ‘The Dangerous Book for Boys’. Mehdi Hasan read PPE at Christ Church, Oxford before he became political editor of the New Statesman, yet Riz Ahmed - who also read PPE at Christ Church - went on to become a film star (recently featuring in Star Wars) and South Bank artist-in-residence, pursuing the passion for drama he had acquired at the school. Jason Solomons developed his love for drama into a successful career, as a film critic for The Guardian. It does something to a young man to grow up in the shadow of such names; it nurtures an inner resolve that he too will make his mark upon the world.
Past pupils automatically become members of the Old Merchant Taylors’ Society – one of the most vibrant in the country - and its many activities help to sustain the friendships made at school, whilst also providing important networking opportunities. The OMT Clubhouse at the school is the centre of most of what the Society does and is an important meeting place for Old Boys.