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Plea for return of Darwin's notebook on anniversary

PUBLISHED: 16:19 25 November 2009 | UPDATED: 10:19 12 August 2010

HISTORIANS used the 150th anniversary of Darwin s On the Origin of Species to appeal for information about his missing notebook which may have been stolen. Tuesday marked a century-and-a-half to the day since the groundbreaking works of the celebrated ev

HISTORIANS used the 150th anniversary of Darwin's On the Origin of Species to appeal for information about his missing notebook which may have been stolen.

Tuesday marked a century-and-a-half to the day since the groundbreaking works of the celebrated evolutionist were first published.

Experts from English Heritage, which curates Down House in Downe where Darwin lived, used the occasion to appeal for information about an invaluable book stolen in the 1980s.

They want the public to help search for the missing 'Galapagos' notebook which contains the scientist's on-the-spot observations and which would prove and integral part of his later work.

It is believed to have gone missing around the early 1980s from Down House before it came under the care of English Heritage.

Darwin's own great-great grandson also made a heartfelt plea to return the pricesless book.

Author and conservationist Randal Keynes said: "Our family always felt that the best Darwin material should be at Down House so that the public could see it in his home. The Galapagos notebook is of outstanding value for the history of science. "If Darwin had not posed the questions in that notebook, he might never have written On the Origin of Species. The notebook was almost certainly stolen around the 1980s. But I am hopeful that it is only a matter of time before it resurfaces and when it does, it must be returned to English Heritage and Down House."

Meanwhile other celebrations were underway to mark the special occasion. A stamp with the image of the Tree of Life, drawn by the evolutionist, along with personal messages were sealed into a time capsule at the end of the day by the staff who have witnessed a double anniversary at Down House in 2009, the first being the bi-centenary of Darwin's birth in February.

The capsule was placed into the Down House archive so that staff can find it in 50 years.

Visitors were also given tours around the property and its greenhouses where Darwin carried out his research.

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