Charles Darwin’s Stolen Notebook Returned Years Later

( Two of Charles Darwin’s notebooks that were reportedly stolen from Cambridge University two decades ago were returned to the university library last month.

According to the University, on March 9, a librarian spotted a pink gift bag left in a public area near the librarian’s office suite. Inside the gift bag was a dark blue box and a brown envelope. The box contained the two notebooks bound together.

The two books, known as Notebooks B and C date back to 1837 and contain Darwin’s first articulations of his theory of evolution by natural selection. The notebooks include diagrams, drawings, and Darwin’s handwritten notes.

Cambridge librarians first noticed the Notebooks were missing during a routine archive check in early 2001. Some suspected the notebooks had been stolen, while others believed the library had just misplaced them.

When they turned up last month, library officials didn’t open the books, instead, they notified the police. It wasn’t until March 14 that librarians were permitted to open the package.

Despite being missing for over twenty years, the notebooks remained in very good condition.

Cambridge library will display the notebooks as part of their “Darwin in Conversation” exhibit which opens in July. The exhibition will then travel to the New York Public Library in 2023.

Jessica Gardner has been searching for the missing notebooks since 2017 when she became the university’s head librarian. Gardiner first contacted the police who opened an investigation into the missing notebooks. She then began a public information campaign to raise awareness and appeal for help.

Experts encouraged Gardner’s mission, offering her examples of items that had been returned decades after they went missing.

Gardner said the reappearance of the notebooks was “profound and almost impossible to adequately express.” She told the Washington Post that she didn’t expect to see them in her lifetime. “I’m just absolutely thrilled,” she said.

The Cambridgeshire Police are continuing to investigate the case of the missing notebooks, and have renewed their appeal to the public for any information.