Gray’s Anatomy is probably one of the most iconic scientific books ever published: an illustrated textbook of anatomy that is still a household name 150 years since its first edition, known for its rigorously scientific text, and masterful illustrations as beautiful as they are detailed. 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.
Publisher: OUP Oxford
Have just finished reading this – really excellently written history book. Learned a lot about Victorian dissection, bookbinding, engraving…and Gray’s anatomy. Found this quote thought provoking (not sure all anatomists look away though) its in the chapter titled ‘Raw material’ which describes the routes by which anatomists aquired bodies for dissection in the post ‘grave-robber’, but pre-donation period.
“There is a silence at the centre of Gray’s, as indeed there is in all anatomy books, which relates to the unutterable: a gap which no anatomist appears to address other than by turning away. It is the gap between the ostensible subject of the book and of the discipline, and the derivation of the bodies from whom its knowledge is constituted, its illustrations made. In Gray’s, the legally sanctioned bodies of people utterly alone in the metropolis were the raw material for dissections that served as the basis for illustrations, that were rendered in print as wood engravings. As mass-produced images, they have entered the brains of generations of the living – via the eyes, the minds, and the thoughts of those who have gazed at them.
But nowhere in these books is the human predicament of those whose bodies constituted their basis addressed, or discussed. Nowhere is their native status as the defeated,dismembered, unconsidered, naked poor even mentioned. And in Gray’s Anatomy, nowhere but in Carter’s images, do they receive memorial.”