Missing Darwin Sketch - Returned to Cambridge University!

Missing Darwin Sketch - Returned to Cambridge University!

Friday, Apr 08, 2022

Having read this in the news lately, we thought our readers would enjoy the story as well.

Charles Darwin drew a sketch in 1837 which is referred to as "The Tree of Life", and purportedly lays out some of his intial thoughts regarding evolution. 

This sketch was in one of two of Darwin's notebooks which resided in the Special Collections Strong Rooms of the Library at Cambridge University - its most secure location.

In January of 2001 a routine check of materials was done, and the notebooks were not there.  Further checks were made through the years, culminating in an intensive search in 2020 through all of the Library's 180 boxes of Darwin material, at the end of which - the notebooks were still missing.

The conclusion was inevitable:  somehow, at some point in the past, they had been stolen.

A public appeal was made later that year, in November of 2020, which broadcast news of the missing notebooks.  Fortunately, someone who knew something heard the plea.

The notebooks were returned, anonymously, to the Library in early March of this year, in a bright pink plastic bag, with a note to the librarian:  "Happy Easter".

While the mystery of who removed them and why may never be solved, we rejoice with our colleagues at the Cambridge University Library upon their safe return.  Perhaps there is cause for hope in the world.


n.b.:  the information for the above is from the web sites of KQED and The New York Times.