12 September 2007

A note of support to our Darwin200 peeps in Scotland

Staff at The National Library of Scotland, fellow Darwin200 partner and caretaker of Scotland's greatest literary treasures including the John Murray Archive (Murray published the first edition of Darwin's On the Origin of Species...), worked through the night on Monday to save flood-damaged books from an otherwise mouldy and/or gluey death.

As the Scotsman tells us in their report of the flood, a water pipe burst on Monday night at 11:30pm and caused "heavy flooding" that "seeped through several floors" damaging books and manuscripts. The leak was stopped in just five minutes. An emergency team of librarians was then rapidly assembled in the dead of night to begin the time-sensitive work of separating pages, drying and in some cases freezing before mould could set in.

And so, we at the Beagle Project raise our glasses in thanks to those involved in stopping the leak (within five minutes) and especially to those librarians doing night shift book triage and conservation.

Very fortunately, the the Murray archive was not damaged, because, among other treasures it includes this letter Charles Darwin wrote to publisher John Murray on 31 March, 1859, pitching his book On the Origin of Species... . Here is page four of Darwin's letter, on which he lists the proposed chapter headings:
For those who, like me, can't read Victorian chicken scratch, here is the transcript.

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