‘The making of Mr Gray's Anatomy’, a talk by Ruth Richardson
Tuesday 4 November 2008, 7.00pm-8.30pm
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. This event will tell 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 you 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.
Tickets cost £8 standard, £6 concessions and £4 Ri members.