Charles Darwin’s notebooks reported as stolen from University Library

There are currently no leads in the investigation

Two notebooks belonging to naturalist and Christ’s College alumni Charles Darwin have been reported stolen from the Cambridge University Library (UL) after they went missing 20 years ago. The library has said these notebooks are likely to be worth millions of pounds.

Charles Darwin’s notebooks have been reported as stolen from the UL (Image credit: SWNS)

Staff at the UL originally thought that the notebooks, which contain Darwin’s highly influential 1837 Tree of Life sketch, had simply been mis-shelved. But after searching 210km worth of shelving several times, the library reported them as stolen to Cambridgeshire police on 20th October. Interpol has since been notified, and the investigation is ongoing, though there are currently no leads.

The notebooks contain Darwin’s seminal 1837 sketch entitled The Tree of Life (Image credit: SWNS)

In 2000, the two notebooks, thought to be worth multi-millions of pounds, were removed from their original storage unit in the library, being transferred instead to the photographic unit. During a routine check in 2001, however, it was discovered that the box containing the notebooks had not been returned to its correct place.

University librarian and director of library services Dr Jessica Gardner said: “My predecessors genuinely believed that what had happened was that these had been mis-shelved or misfiled and they took forward extensive searches over the years in that genuine belief.”

Dr Gardner also outlined the differences in security standards in the UL 20 years ago, adding that “today any such significant missing object would be reported as potential theft immediately.”

Anyone who has any information on the missing notebooks is invited to contact the Cambridge University Library via email at [email protected] .

Featured image credit: SWNS and Geograph via Creative Commons licence