A vital testimony to the genius of one of the greatest scientists in history has gone from being lost to being considered allegedly stolen. The University of Cambridge has reported to the police the disappearance of two of Charles Darwin's diaries, one of which includes the famous "tree of life" scheme. It is a representation of his theory of evolution dating from 1837 and showing the kinship between living beings as a result of the observations of the researcher born in Downe, near London in 1809.
But the university does not know how the two bibliographic jewels came out of its walls, the price of which it does not know but amounts to several million pounds. Nor when exactly did it happen: the last time anyone acknowledged seeing them was in the year 2000. The workers of the huge library, with its 210 kilometers of shelves and some 10 million books, maps, manuscripts and other documents, thought for years that they had been misplaced, and no complaint was filed.
The conclusion that the texts are no longer in the facilities came this year, after carefully reviewing the contents of the 189 boxes that make up the Darwin Archive. The two newspapers had disappeared. "My predecessors [in office] sincerely believed that [the texts] were misplaced on the shelves or misfiled," said the director of library services, Jessica Gardner, who together with her new team reviewed the case and the scientist file.
After so long without the documents or any clues as to his whereabouts, his disappearance is now being investigated as a thief, and he has notified the Cabridgeshire police by the library. The specialized unit for art and antiquities of the metropolitan police and Interpol have also been informed. They are already listed as lost and found in the UK's Lost Art Register and Interpol's Psyche database, CNN notes.
However, the police do not have any thread to pull to solve the case, Gardner has specified and collects The Guardian. "I'm afraid there is nothing in the records that we have that tells us more," the librarian told the BBC. To the same newspaper, the deputy director for research collections at the university, Mark Purcell, has pointed out that the diaries cannot be sold on the open market, but he fears that someone has them stored.
The last reference to the location of the notebooks dates back to November 2000. That month the work was completed, which lasted for a couple of months, to photograph the pages in the library department, where the notebooks had been moved from their homes. shelves, in a specially protected area of the facilities. But in an ordinary review, in January of the following year, it was found that the documents and the small blue box that contained them were no longer there. The two lost and perhaps stolen copies had been digitized and can be consulted on the Internet, although this does not compensate for the loss of the original document in which Darwin recorded his observations on board Beagle with which he traveled half the world.
"Today, the loss of such an important lost object would be reported immediately, due to possible theft, and an exhaustive search would be undertaken," said Gardner, who confesses "desolate". The building that housed the documents, referred to by librarians as the "notebooks of transmutation" underwent renovation works at the time they disappeared.