The Making of Mr Gray’s Anatomy: Bodies, Books, Fortune, Fame by Ruth Richardson - review by Sarah Wise

Sarah Wise

On the Slab

The Making of Mr Gray’s Anatomy: Bodies, Books, Fortune, Fame

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Oxford University Press 288pp £16.99 order from our bookshop
 

Gray’s Anatomy was 150 years old this summer, and the fortieth edition is about to roll off the presses. Its original publication marked a quiet revolution in medical textbooks – with all the flab of wordy text, confusingly sited captions, windy footnotes and over-elaborate illustrations pared away to leave an unprecedentedly helpful (and affordable) student’s guide to the human body.

In writing a biography of this book, Ruth Richardson is refreshingly honest about the challenges posed to her by fugitive documentation: whatever was committed to paper by and about young Henry Gray has for the most part gone missing, and she admits that many of her conclusions have ‘been arrived

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