Page last updated at 09:35 GMT, Monday, 23 March 2009

Darwin's 'gentleman' student days

Darwin's bill
Darwin paid extra to have vegetables with his meals

Bills unearthed at Cambridge University show how naturalist Charles Darwin spent his money while a student at Christ's College from 1828 to 1831.

Historians say the records show Darwin lived the life of "a 19th Century gentleman" and paid extra to have vegetables with his meals.

The accounts reveal he paid a bed-maker, a shoe-polisher and someone to bring in the coal for his fire.

The six record books are being published online.

'Stickler for vegetables'

A spokesman for the university said the books filled in gaps of knowledge about Darwin's student days.

"Thanks to the discovery, historians now have the exact date of Darwin's arrival at the university - January 26th, 1828 - as well as a huge assortment of details which will enable them to reconstruct his undergraduate life as never before.

"The books show how Darwin enjoyed all the trappings one would expect of a 19th century gentleman, paying service-people to carry out tasks such as stoking his fire and polishing his shoes.

"They even reveal that he was a stickler for his five-a-day, paying extra for vegetables at college meals."

The spokesman said there were few entries to suggest he bought many books or anything else for his studies.

"Darwin famously spent little of his time at Cambridge studying or in lectures, preferring to shoot, ride, and collect beetles," he said.

Print Sponsor

Darwin letter is found at museum
17 Feb 09 |  England
Darwin statue unveiled at college
12 Feb 09 |  Cambridgeshire
Darwin 200: The Galapagos Islands
12 Feb 09 |  Science & Environment
At home with Darwin... 200 years on
09 Feb 09 |  Science & Environment


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific