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Gray’s Anatomy first edition on Antiques Roadshow

Published: 25 April 2022

Grays Anatomy_artifacts

A first edition copy of Gray’s Anatomy, authored by 19th Century St George’s lecturer, Henry Gray, has appeared on Antiques Roadshow.

Airing on Sunday 24 April, the television episode of the long-running series, featured an early copy of the book, printed in 1858. Gray’s Anatomy, also entitled 'Anatomy, Descriptive and Surgical,' is one of the world’s most famous textbooks, and has been updated 40 times since it was first published. The book also inspired the name of the US television drama, Grey’s Anatomy.

Henry Gray was born in 1827, the son of a private messenger to George IV and William IV. He entered St George’s Hospital on 6th May 1845 and he soon focused his attention on the study of anatomy. He was involved in teaching at the hospital medical school, working as a lecturer, anatomy demonstrator and curator of the pathology museum. He sadly passed away at the age of 34 in 1861, contracting smallpox after caring for his nephew with the disease.

Less well known, is that the illustrator of the book, Henry Vandyke Carter, studied and worked at St George’s as well. He qualified as a doctor at the medical school and was later commissioned to make anatomical drawings. Carter met Henry Gray around 1850 and they worked on the book together. However, Carter was never credited due to disagreements between the two of them.

Antique's Roadshow's expert Fuchsia Voremberg examined the weathered copy of the book, explaining that while Gray worked at St George's he realised that there was a gap in the market for a "really good and affordable textbook" that would be useful for both students and surgeons.

She valued the piece at between £1,500 and £2,000.

You can read more about Henry Gray’s time at St George’s on the St George’s Library Blog.

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