The University of London’s Leading Women campaign is celebrating the pioneering women who joined the university 150 years ago, writes Philip Carter.
At 2pm on Saturday 15 May 1869, the 17 examiners of the University of London gathered at Somerset House on the Strand. Their task that afternoon was an unusual one: to assess and grade the university’s first “General Examination for Women”, which nine candidates had sat earlier that month.
The examiners (all men) awarded honours to six of the nine women: Sarah Jane Moody, Eliza Orme,Louisa von Glehn, Kate Spiller, Isabella de Lancy West and Susannah Wood. The remaining three students – Mary Anne Belcher, Hendilah Lawrence and Mary Baker Watson – did not pass the examination. Regardless, all nine were pioneers in women’s higher education.