The Making of Mr Gray's Anatomy : Bodies, books, fortune, fame, Hardback Book
4.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


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.

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 the reader 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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Fascinating look at how the greatest anatomy book of the nineteenth century and beyond came to be written: the persons involved, including author, illustrator, publisher, and competitors; the process; and the importance of it all. Despite the lack of documentary substantiation, Richardson does a fine job of tracking down what evidence there is and putting it together. The innovation in Gray's was not the material so much as the illustrations, which were larger than any other text (partly by fortuitous accident) and had teach particular item labeled directly, rather than lettered to direct the reader to a legend or the footnotes. The type was also large and clear.The art of the woodcutter and engraver was at its peak, and the craftmanship is outstanding even for the day.(The book is substantial in weight, with heavy slick paper, and illustrations from the Anatomy.)