Academic journal article Care Management Journals

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

Academic journal article Care Management Journals

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

Article excerpt

THE MAKING OF MR. GRAY'S ANATOMY: BODIES, BOOKS, FORTUNE, FAME Ruth Richardson New York: Oxford University Press, 2008, 288 pp., $29.95 (hardcover).

All of us who serve in the hands-on healing professions are likely to value Gray's Anatomy , to have held it (both arms required), admired the depth of knowledge therein, and wished we could know all of it, and remember most of it.

But how did this text, and those brilliant drawings originate?

The story of Gray's Anatomy, the history of its birth in 1858, the men (yes, all men) who created it, those who designed the volume, the publisher who took the fi nancial risk, the printers, the paper manufacturers, the typefounders, the bookbinders, the engravers-all of these are part of the story.

Two London Physicians: Gray and Carter

Gray's Anatomy is the product of two London physicians and anatomists, Henry Gray and Henry Vandyke Carter. Ruth Richardson, the intrepid investigator and author who unearthed the fascinating background and details behind the origin of this great and famous work, has succeeded in creating for us grateful readers the life stories of these two men. Much of their personal histories had previously been buried in obscurity. This is true no more. Henry Gray was an aggressive, self-promoting, brilliant, hard-working physician, seeking the main chance for glory and fame. A fi ne anatomist and teacher of medical students in mid-19th Century London at St. George's Hospital, he recognized that currently available anatomy texts for students were not adequate. Thus the original concept for a new and better book was his. But an anatomy text without drawings was pointless. Here's where Carter comes in.

Henry Vandyke Carter was, in his character, the reverse of Henry Gray. Carter is shown to have been a quiet, reserved, self-doubting man. He allowed himself to remain largely unrecognized, underappreciated, rarely if ever paid for his work. His diary, made available to our author, reveals that Carter was pushed around by Gray, his name omitted from prior publications although his drawings were used, his stature as Gray's coequal in the great Anatomy minimized.

But fate will have its way. The course of these two lives suggests that retribution is inevitable. Henry Gray died of smallpox, transmitted by his young nephew. Gray was 36 years old.

Gray had certainly been vaccinated as a child: his death certifi cate records 'Confl uent Smallpox, 7th day. Vaccinated in childhood, Certifi ed. …

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