More than twenty years after their disappearance, two of Charles Darwin’s notebooks have been mysteriously returned to the Cambridge University Library.
After being removed for photographing in September 2000, the priceless notebooks, one of which included Darwin’s famous 1837 “Tree of Life” sketch, went missing, according to a statement made by the Cambridge University Library. At the time, the library staff believed they had just been misplaced. After a search through the library’s massive collection of more than 10 million books and artifacts failed to produce them, however, they were reported stolen to the authorities in October 2020, the Associated Press reported. (RELATED: Darwin’s Notebooks, Sketches On Evolution Believed To Be Stolen)
We need the public’s help to find two notebooks belonging to #CharlesDarwin.
Please watch our appeal film and get in touch if you have any information which could help us. Email ManuscriptAppeal@lib.cam.ac.uk or visit https://t.co/mKyN9jCMco for info.#TreeOfLife #DarwinAppeal pic.twitter.com/7KE7QkPNpr
— Cambridge University Library (@theUL) November 24, 2020
The two notebooks suddenly reappeared March 9, undamaged and left outside of the librarian’s office in a pink gift bag, according to NBC News. Additionally, the books were accompanied by a note that simply said, “Librarian Happy Easter X,” NBC News reported. (RELATED: Mysterious Benefactor Returns Long-Lost Key To 900-Year Old Tower)
“My sense of relief at the notebooks’ safe return is profound and almost impossible to adequately express,” Cambridge University Librarian Jessica Gardner said in a statement.
Describing her joy at their return as “immense,” Gardner added, “The notebooks can now retake their rightful place alongside the rest of the Darwin Archive at Cambridge, at the heart of the nation’s cultural and scientific heritage, alongside the archives of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Stephen Hawking.”
The notebooks will go on display in July as part of a Darwin exhibition at the library, according to the AP.
“We share the university’s delight that these priceless notebooks are now back where they belong,” a spokesman for the Cambridgeshire Police said in a statement put out by the Cambridge University Library.
“Our investigation remains open and we are following up some lines of inquiry. We also renew our appeal for anyone with information about the case to contact us,” the spokesman concluded.