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Priceless Charles Darwin notebooks reported stolen from Cambridge library – 20 years after going missing

Priceless Charles Darwin notebooks reported stolen from Cambridge library – 20 years after going missing
Notepads belonging to world famous naturalist, scientist and evolution-theory pioneer Charles Darwin were likely stolen from Cambridge University Library some 20 years ago, it has been revealed.

The notepads were removed to be photographed in November 2000. A follow-up check in January 2001 found the notebooks had not been returned to their proper location but curators at the time originally thought the prize documents had simply been misfiled. Searches for the notebooks have been carried out ever since but to no avail.

Now, under a newer administrative team, experts at Cambridge University Library, home to some 10 million maps, manuscripts and other objects on its roughly 210km (130 miles) of shelving, have raised the alarm with the authorities. 

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Having conducted a complete search of the whole of the Darwin Archive, which comprises 189 archive boxes, and failed to locate the notebooks, Cambridgeshire Police were informed.

The Metropolitan Police’s arts and antique specialist crime unit and Interpol have also been informed as a major police investigation into the whereabouts of the documents gets underway.

One of the books contains the 19th century scientist’s Tree of Life sketch, a graphical representation of Darwin’s world-famous theory of evolution.


“These notebooks have probably been stolen,” announced Dr. Jessica Gardner, the university’s librarian. 

“This is heartbreaking… We will leave no stone unturned,” she added.

There are currently no leads as to the whereabouts of the notebooks, which are presumed to have gone missing during reconstruction work at the university some two decades ago.

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