Gray’s Anatomy was first published in Britain in 1858, and an American edition appeared the following year. With its terse, descriptive prose and spellbindingly intricate illustrations of the human body, the book immediately established itself as an essential reference work for the medical profession on both sides of the Atlantic. In more than a century and a half since its original publication, it has never gone out of print and has sold an estimated five million copies. The book’s recent fortieth edition brought itself up to date with state-of-the-art material on neuroimaging, embryogenesis, and biomechanics.
Although Gray’s Anatomy has been an influence and inspiration for generations of medical students, the author himself remains something of a mystery. Henry Gray clearly possessed prodigious gifts. He was appointed house surgeon to London’s St George’s Hospital (and later lecturer in anatomy) while still in his twenties,