Darwin notebooks stolen from Cambridge Uni Library in 2001 returned

Two notebooks filled with Charles Darwin’s writings and drawings that were believed to have been stolen from Library more than 20 years ago have been anonymously returned in a pink gift bag, with a typed note wishing a Happy Easter.

The precious items – in which the famous scientist laid out his theory of evolution about the origin of life – were found to be missing in 2001, but at the time staff believed they may have been mis-shelved.

They carried out extensive searches in the library – which is home to around 10 million books, maps, manuscripts and other items – but in October 2020 they were reported as stolen to Cambridgeshire Police.

The force launched an investigation and notified , with the university making a worldwide appeal for information so that the notebooks, which are worth millions of pounds, could be returned.

Almost a year-and-a-half later, the notebooks – one of which contains Darwin’s famous 1837 Tree of Life sketch – have been anonymously returned.

They were left on the floor of a public area of the library outside librarian Dr Jessica Gardner’s office, on the fourth floor of the 17-storey building, on March 9.The area is not covered by CCTV.

The manuscripts, said to be in good condition and with no obvious signs of significant handling or damage sustained in the years since their disappearance, were returned in a pink gift bag. 

The two notebooks were wrapped together with clingfilm inside their archive box.A plain brown envelope with them had the printed message ‘Librarian/ Happy Easter/ X’.

Speaking of her delight at the return of the notebooks, Dr Gardner told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that she was ‘shaking’ when she saw them.She added: ‘There have been tears and I think there still will be’.

Two notebooks filled with Charles Darwin's writings and drawings that were stolen from Cambridge University Library more than 20 years ago have been anonymously returned in a pink gift bag, with a typed note wishing a Happy Easter. Above: Darwin's Tree of Life sketch, which explored the relationship between species

Two notebooks filled with Charles Darwin’s writings and drawings that were stolen from Cambridge University Library more than 20 years ago have been anonymously returned in a pink gift bag, with a typed note wishing a Happy Easter.Above: Darwin’s Tree of Life sketch, which explored the relationship between species¬†

The precious items, in which the famous scientist aid out his theory of evolution, were found to be missing in 2001, but at the time staff believed they may have been mis-shelved. Above: The previously missing notebooks

The precious items, in which the famous scientist aid out his theory of evolution, were found to be missing in 2001, but at the time staff believed they may have been mis-shelved.Above: The previously missing notebooks

Eminent 19th Century scientist Charles Darwin made jottings in the notebooks, which had not been seen in two decades

Eminent 19th Century scientist Charles Darwin made jottings in the notebooks, which had not been seen in two decades

The police investigation around the notebooks’ disappearance and PTS Terbaik ASEAN subsequent return is ongoing.

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