Greater than 20 years after they had been first reported lacking, an nameless individual has returned two of Charles Darwin’s historic notebooks to the Cambridge College Library.
The enduring notebooks, which embrace Darwin’s 1837 Tree of Life sketch, had been returned to the library final month, tucked in a vivid present pink bag and stacked collectively in plastic wrap, the library mentioned. The notebooks had been accompanied by three traces:
“My sense of aid on the notebooks’ protected return is profound and virtually inconceivable to adequately categorical,” mentioned librarian Dr. Jessica Gardner.
A police investigation is ongoing, in response to the library.
Cambridge College Library introduced a public attraction to search out the notebooks in November 2020. Whereas that they had been lacking lengthy earlier than the attraction, librarians had assumed that they had simply been misplaced.
The library plans to place the notebooks on show in July as a part of an upcoming exhibit referred to as “Darwin in Dialog.” The Tree of Life sketch is alleged to disclose parts of Darwin’s considering earlier than he fleshed out On the Origin of Species greater than 20 years later.
“Objects akin to these are essential for our understanding of not solely the historical past of science however the historical past of humankind,” mentioned Stephen Toope, vice chancellor at Cambridge.
The library mentioned the notebooks had been first eliminated in 2000 from the Particular Collections Robust Rooms, dwelling to the “rarest and most beneficial objects.” A routine test in January 2001 revealed that the small field containing the notebooks was not returned to its rightful place.
After quite a lot of searches all through the library through the years, the notebooks weren’t recovered. Gardner organized a extra intensive search in 2020, led by specialists who performed fingertip examinations. The workforce searched the whole Darwin Archive, which incorporates greater than 180 packing containers.
After these efforts failed, they concluded that the notebooks had been stolen.
Native police are happy that the notebooks have lastly been situated.
“We share the college’s delight that these priceless notebooks at the moment are again the place they belong,” a Cambridgeshire police spokesman mentioned. “Our investigation stays open and we’re following up some traces of inquiry.”