Henry Gray (1826/7-1861)

Henry Gray, 1908.

Henry Gray, 1908.

Credits:Wellcome Library, London.

Over 150 years after its original publication in 1858, Henry Gray’s Anatomy, Descriptive and Surgical, now better known as Gray’s Anatomy, is still being used by medical students. Little is known about Gray's life. He spent most of his career at St George's Hospital, London, as a surgeon and lecturer in anatomy. Gray's ability to produce accurate representations of human anatomy was recognised early, and he was elected to the Royal Society when only 25.

Gray's book was produced in collaboration with the anatomical artist Henry Vandyke Carter, who assisted with dissections and provided illustrations. Carter later became known for his work on leprosy while Deputy Surgeon-General of the Indian Medical Service. Carter's drawings were then made into engravings by Butterworth and Heath. Despite the existence of competing anatomical texts, Gray’s quickly became the standard reference work, a position it has retained.

Gray was working on the second edition of his Anatomy when he caught smallpox from his nephew and died at the age of 34.