First published under the title "Grays Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical" in 1858, Gray would not live to see its full impact. He contracted smallpox from his nephew and died in 1861 at the age of 34.
The Making of Mr Gray's Anatomy tells the story of the creation of this remarkable book, and the individuals who made it happen: Henry Gray, the bright and ambitious physiologist, poised for medical fame and fortune, who was the book's author; Carter, the brilliant young illustrator, lacking Gray's social advantages, shy and inclined to religious introspection; and the publishers - Parkers, father and son, the father eager to employ new technology, the son part of a lively circle of intellectuals.
Gray's Anatomy skull from the 1918 edition.
It is the story of changing attitudes in the mid-19th century; of the social impact of science, the changing status of medicine; of poverty and class; of craftsmanship and technology. And it all unfolds in the atmospheric milieu of Victorian London – taking you from the smart townhouses of Belgravia, to the dissection room of St George's Hospital, and to the workhouses and mortuaries where we meet the friendless poor who would ultimately be immortalised in Carter's engravings. Alongside the story of the making of the book itself, Ruth Richardson reflects on what made Gray's Anatomy such a unique intellectual, artistic, and cultural achievement - how it represented a summation of a long half century's blossoming of anatomical knowledge and exploration, and how it appeared just at the right time to become the 'Doctor's Bible' for generations of medics to follow.
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