Save Charles Lyell's notebooks

Charles Lyell’s 294 notebooks, currently in private hands, are due to be sold abroad. The University is trying to save the notebooks from export by supporting the purchase with our own funds - but we also need your help. The bar on the export of the notebooks has been pushed back from 15 July  to 15 October 2019. This is now the final deadline to save Lyell’s notebooks. Originally set at £1,444,000, the price is now £966,000 thanks to a restructuring of tax liability. With funds already in place, we still need to raise £236,000.

So please pledge today.

Expert opinion

Portrait of Charles Lyell

Charles Lyell’s importance as a world-leading scientist is unquestioned. His remarkable notebooks are key to appreciating his standing as arguably the most significant figure in the earth sciences in Britain in the past two centuries. They illuminate our understanding of the nineteenth century, and shed light on contemporary concerns including climate change, species diversity and the meanings of deep time. We support the University of Edinburgh’s efforts to save and make public Lyell’s fascinating notebooks.” 

Professor Charles W J Withers, Ogilvie Chair of Geography, University of Edinburgh, Geographer Royal for Scotland

Professor James A Secord, Professor of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, Director, Darwin Correspondence Project

Nick Crane,  Dr Hermione Cockburn and Richard Fortey

Leading institutions, groups and individuals are supporting our campaign to save Lyell's notebooks, including:

  • Nicholas Crane, Trustee of Royal Geographical Society
  • Dr Hermione Cockburn, Scientific Director of Dynamic Earth
  • Richard Fortey, television presenter
  • British Geological Survey
  • Bodleian Libraries, Oxford University
  • The History of Geology Group
  • The Geological Society of London
  • History of Earth Sciences Society

See who else is supporting the campaign

Calendar with push pins

Breaking news: Thanks to your generosity, we've surpassed £125,000 in online pledges.

Celebrating our first 1,000 online pledges

Appeal aims to save works by Darwin’s mentor and inspiration

Colourful spines of Lyell's notebooks

Who was Lyell and what do his notebooks, which are at risk of export, tell us?

Scan of a page in Lyell's notebook mentioning Darwin

Find out about the University of Edinburgh’s commitment to making our collections freely accessible to all and learn more about our archives.