Darwin's manuscripts, sketches go online

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London, Apr 17 (UNI) Many precious manuscripts, photographs and sketches connected with Charles Darwin, that were earlier available only to scholars with access to the Cambridge University Library, were published online for the first time today.

The huge set of documents and images that can now be viewed for free, is part of Cambridge based Darwin Online project, claimed to be the largest Darwin bibliography and manuscript catalogue created.

Among the collection are Darwin's early calculations on his theory of evolution, thousands of drafts of his scientific writings, and even arguments in favour of his wife, who he had described as ''better than a dog anyhow.'' Of the 90,000 pages of manuscripts, one set of pages that is likely to grab considerable attention is the draft of his theory of evolution from 1842. Scrawled by Darwin himself, the pages are crammed with afterthoughts, footnotes and crossed-out text.

Although, a transcript of the text had been published previously, few might have seen the original facsimile of the scientist's unpolished thought process.

''There is a kind of fascination about it having all the original handwriting and the places where he was making changes and was struggling with issues,'' Dr Paul White, who is a part of the Darwin Project, told the Guardian.

The collection also touches on Darwin's views on religion. In a touching correspondence from his wife Emma in 1839, which also forms a part of the collection, she expressed her concern about Darwin's declining faith.

''May not the habit in scientific pursuits of believing nothing till it is proved, influence your mind too much in other things which cannot be proved in the same way,'' she had written.


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