Stolen Darwin’s notebooks return to library after 20 years: ‘Happy Easter’ | to know

Stolen Darwin's notebooks return to library after 20 years: 'Happy Easter' |  to know

Twenty years after the theft, two notebooks of the famous British scientist Charles Darwin were returned to the Cambridge University Library. They were in an abandoned bright pink bag, with a little message for the librarian: “Happy Easter.”

The bag, containing two boxes and a printed letter, was left on the fourth floor floor of the library on March 9. Each box contains one notebook, wrapped in plastic wrap and appears undamaged. They were deposited in a location in the university library that was not captured by security cameras.

The University of Cambridge today announced the happy discovery. Librarian, Jessica Gardner, said she was “barely able to put into words how relieved she was”. “My heart, like so many others around the world, broke when we found out that they had been stolen.” Together they are worth millions of euros.

The bag, one of the two boxes and the message printed on a brown envelope. © AFP

Charles Darwin

The famous British naturalist Charles Darwin, the inventor of the theory of evolution, filled notebooks in the years following his voyage when he was 22 years old aboard the HMS Beagle in 1831. The pamphlets contain his early ideas on evolution and his “tree of life” diagram about Relationships between living and extinct organisms. He made the drawing in 1837.

All these ideas later led to his world-famous work Origin of Species from 1859.

Read on the bottom of the image.

Diagram of

Diagram of the “tree of life” in one of Darwin’s notebooks. © AFP


The two brochures were lost in 2001. Shortly before that, they had been moved around the library to be photographed. Library staff initially thought they might be out of place, but a year-long search of the massive collection (of 10 million books, maps, and manuscripts) revealed nothing.

In October 2020, the theft of the brochures was reported by Gardner to the local police. The police also notified Interpol, so the notebooks were monitored internationally.

But now they are back. “Notebooks could once again take their rightful place in the rest of the Charles Darwin Archives in Cambridge. At the heart of England’s cultural and scientific heritage, together with the archives of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Stephen Hawking,” according to Gardner librarian. It will be shown to the public again in July.

Who left the books in the library in March is still a mystery. The place where the pink bag was not “lit” the surveillance cameras. But this applies to all entrances and exits of the library. So these photos were handed over to the police, hoping to identify the person who returned the valuables: was he a repentant thief or an accidental finder?

France Press agency


France Press agency


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