According to BBC, the two stolen notebooks written by Charles Darwin have been mysteriously returned to Cambridge University, 22 years after they were last seen. The small leather-bound books are worth many millions of pounds and include the scientist’s tree of life sketch.
Their return comes 15 months after the BBC first highlighted they had gone missing and the library launched a worldwide appeal to find them.
“I feel joyous,” the university’s librarian Dr. Jessica Gardner says. She grins broadly as she breaks the news. In fact, she cannot stop smiling.
“They’re safe, they’re in good condition, and they’re home.”
But who returned the two postcard-sized notepads is a real whodunit. They were left anonymously in a bright pink gift bag containing the original blue box the notebooks were kept in and a plain brown envelope. On it was printed a short message: “Librarian, Happy Easter X.”
Inside were the two notebooks, wrapped tightly in cling film. The package had been left on the floor, in a public part of the library with no CCTV, outside Dr. Gardner’s office.
“I was shaking, but I was also cautious because until we could unwrap them, you can’t be 100% sure,” says Gardner.
An agonizing delay of five days followed between finding the package and the police granting permission to open the cling film, examine the notebooks and confirm they were genuine. She admits she had feared the notebooks would not be returned in her lifetime.
“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 date from the late 1830s after Darwin had returned from the Galapagos Islands. On one page, he drew a spindly sketch of a tree, which helped inspire his theory of evolution and more than 20 years later would become a central theory in his groundbreaking work On the Origin of Species.