‘Happy Easter X’: Missing set of valuable Charles Darwin notebooks returned with note


Written by Sana Noor Haq, CNN

A set of rare notebooks filled with Charles Darwin’s notes has been returned anonymously to the University of Cambridge, more than 20 years after they were initially reported missing.

The two notebooks — one of which contains Darwin’s famous “Tree of Life” sketch from 1837 — were returned to Cambridge University’s library in March 2022, the university said in a statement.

They were left outside the librarian’s office and wrapped in plastic, in a pink gift bag with a brown envelope containing the filing box of the notebooks and an unsigned printed note.

“Librarian, Happy Easter X,” the note read.

The notebooks were returned with this note. Credit: Stuart Roberts/Cambridge University Library

The precious objects, which the university said could be worth “millions” were missing during a routine check in January 2001 when it was found that the box containing the notebooks had not been properly returned to the university’s special collections. strong rooms.
After an “exhaustive” search of years, the university officially declared the notebooks missing – and probably stolen – in November 2020.

At the time, the university launched a worldwide appeal to help find the books.

One of Charles Darwin's two notebooks.  Both books were returned anonymously in March 2022.

One of Charles Darwin’s two notebooks. Both books were returned anonymously in March 2022. Credit: Stuart Roberts/Cambridge University Library

“My sense of relief at the safe return of the notebooks is profound and almost impossible to adequately express. Along with so many others around the world, I was heartbroken to hear of their loss and my joy at their return is immense,” says dr. Jessica Gardner, a University of Cambridge librarian, said in a statement announcing the return of the notebooks.

“They may be small, as big as postcards, but the impact of the notebooks on the history of science and their importance to our world-class collections here cannot be overstated.”

“I am incredibly happy to hear that the notebooks have been safely returned to their rightful homes,” University of Cambridge Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen J Toope said in a statement announcing the return of the notebooks.

“Objects like these are crucial to our understanding of not only the history of science, but the history of mankind.”

The Cambridgeshire Police investigation into the disappearance and return of the notebook is ongoing, the statement said.

dr.  Jessica Gardner looks at Darwin's 1837 "tree of life" sketch.

dr. Jessica Gardner looks at Darwin’s 1837 sketch “Tree of Life”. Credit: Stuart Roberts/Cambridge University Library

According to London’s Natural History Museum, Darwin used the idea of ​​the tree of life to contextualize the theory of evolution and show how all species on Earth are related and evolved from a shared ancestor.
His first “Tree of Life” sketch was drawn in the summer of 1837, a year after he returned to England from his worldwide voyage on the HMS Beagle. More than two decades later, Darwin would publish the most seminal book of his career, “On the Origin of Species,” expanding his ideas on evolution.

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