Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The missing pages of Darwin's notebooks

Turning the pages of Darwin’s notebooks
To mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, today, November 24th, English Heritage have digitised and published online Charles Darwin’s notebooks which he wrote during his five-year voyage on board HMS Beagle. The notebooks contain nearly 116,000 words and 300 sketches and doodles and provide a fascinating insight into his day-to-day experiences and thoughts. The online archive also features highlights from a 1969 microfilm of Darwin’s Galapagos notebook.

The missing notebook
All that remains of the Galapagos notebook, however, are the extracts on the 1969 microfilm. The notebook has been missing from Darwin’s former home in Kent, Down House, since the early 1980s. English Heritage bought the house in 1996 and today launched an appeal for help to trace the Galapagos notebook.
The appeal is notably supported by Darwin's great-great grandson, Randal Keynes OBE. He described how:
‘[his] 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.’

Read the press release on the website of English Heritage.
In The Descent of Genius: Charles Darwin's Brilliant Career Roy Porter considers the origins of Charles Darwin’s particular species of genius.

A Russian investor’s hunt for Hitler’s limousine
Spiegel Online interviewed the German classic car dealer, Michael Fröhlich, who traced the vehicle. The armoured limousine is a bluish-black Mercedes 770A Kompressor, which is estimated to sell for up to €10 million euros. The car’s original log book states that the car was delivered to the ‘Führer and Reich Chancellor’ in 1935. The Russian buyer is also purchasing five other vehicles of the same model, four of which were owned by Nazi officials including von Ribbentrop.

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