The exam season for most students has been and gone this summer. If you are interested in how London University students fared a century or more ago, why not visit the University of London Student Records webpage? We have recently added a digitised copy of the University of London Historical Record, 1836-1912 to this page, http://www.shl.lon.ac.uk/specialcollections/archives/studentrecords.shtml
The Historical Record includes a wealth of detail. For the first time, researchers can use the student records page to see full class lists. For instance, George Gissing, the novelist, was listed as being the top student in both Latin and English in the intermediate exams in 1875. Sadly a scandal involving pilfering from other students ended Gissing’s university career prematurely. Gissing’s motives were noble – he stole to provide for a penniless street orphan, Nell Harrison. But the authorities were unforgiving and he was sentenced to hard labour. Gissing was a student at Owens College (a forerunner of the University of Manchester). The fact that he took University of London exams is an example of the immense geographical influence of the University in the nineteenth century.