Darwin’s returned notebooks go on display this weekend

Charles Darwin's famous 1837 Tree of Life sketch, which sets out the theory of evolution

Charles Darwin's famous 1837 Tree of Life sketch, which sets out the theory of evolution will be on display at Cambridge University Library from tomorrow (July 9) until December 3. - Credit: Cambridge University Library

Charles Darwin’s iconic Tree of Life sketch which was stolen and then returned to Cambridge University Library earlier this year, will go on display there tomorrow (July 9). 

The notebook was one of two that went missing from the library in 2001. 

They were returned anonymously on March 9 in a pink gift bag 15 months after the launch of a worldwide appeal to find them. 

Now they are back home, they are going on display in a ground-breaking new exhibition called ‘Darwin in Conservation’. 

It will be the first time this century that they can be seen by the public. 

A spokesperson said: “The exhibition, which transfers to New York Public Library in 2023, examines how the great naturalist sought help from a cast of thousands of men, women and even children globally as he wrote his foundational works on evolutionary biology.” 

Other objects going on display include Darwin’s personal first edition of ‘Origin of the Species’, the squeaky kidney beans which became a viral ASMR hit, and beautifully illustrated sketchbooks from the voyage of HMS Beagle. 

The exhibition will also include personal letters from early girlfriends of Darwin and the famously-vexed correspondence where he declared that: “I hate myself, I hate clover and I hate bees”. 

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The exhibition is free and will run until December 3.