The true story of the original “Gray’s Anatomy”

Jennifer Kay in the Seattle Times:

Screenhunter_4First published in 1858, “Gray’s Anatomy” has never been out of print and has become one of the most famous textbooks in the English language. Its detailed anatomical diagrams and descriptions continue to influence artists and medical students today.

Bill Hayes used the tome to spell-check anatomical terms for his previous two books exploring sleep disorders and the nature of human blood. “The Anatomist” is Hayes’ attempt to reveal the man behind the diagrams, Henry Gray.

As Hayes quickly discovers, however, “Gray’s Anatomy” is about all that remains of the gifted London medical student who became one of the leading anatomists of his day before his death in 1861 at age 34. None of Gray’s manuscripts, letters or journals survive.

Hayes’ inquiries could have stopped there, were it not for one significant discovery: Though the book bears his name, Gray didn’t actually draw any of its 400 diagrams. Those were handiwork of Gray’s collaborator, H.V. Carter, whose name was left off some subsequent editions of the book. Luckily for Hayes, Carter did leave behind family letters and journals written in the pinched script of a stressed-out medical student in 19th-century London.

More here.