Charles Darwin: Scientist explains origin of life theory
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They include sketches of the scientist’s famous “tree of life” sketch and are said to be worth many millions. Their safe return was announced by the university’s librarian Dr Jessica Gardner, who said the felt “joyous”. Dr Gardner added: “They’re safe, they’re in good condition, they’re home.”
The paid were reportedly left anonymously in a bright pink gift bag containing the original blue box the notebooks were kept in.
Inside were the two booked, wrapped tightly in clingfilm.
They are said to have been left in the part of the library with no CCTV.
On it was printed a short message: “Librarian, Happy Easter X.”
But the team were not allowed to open the package straight away, leading to an antagonising five days wait for the team.
Dr Gardener added: “I was shaking.
“But I was also cautious because until we could unwrap them, you can’t be 100 percent sure.”
After the police granted permission for the package to be opened, the pair were confirmed to be genuine.
Dr Gardener told the BBC: “There have been tears
“And I think there still will be, because we are not over the emotional rollercoaster. It means so much to us to have these home.
“I thought it might take years. My sense of relief at the notebooks’ safe return is profound and almost impossible to adequately express.
“I was heartbroken to learn of their loss and my joy at their return is immense.”
The notepads were written in the 1830s by the famous naturalist, geologist and biologist Darwin, best known for his work on evolution.
They were last seen 22 years ago, in November 2000 after “an internal request” to have them photographed.
But two months later they were found to be missing.
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Initially, librarians thought they had been put back in the wrong place in the vast university library.
But numerous searches returned nothing.
Dr Gardener said the books are in “in remarkably good condition,” adding that “every page that should be there is there”.
The notebooks are now being kept in a secure strong room at the library, although they will go on public display in July as part of a free exhibition titled Darwin in Conversation.
Who “stole” the books remains to be found.
Cambridgeshire Police said: “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.”
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