Gray’s Anatomy is unique in medicine in that it has been continuously in print and read (although much changed) in over 40 editions since its initial publication in 1858. It was the work of two young men not long out of medical school – Henry Gray, who dissected and wrote the text, and Henry Vandyke Carver, who also dissected, and drew the illustrations. The full title of the work is Anatomy, Descriptive and Surgical but the spine was imprinted as Gray’s Anatomy , thus shutting Carver out of equal memory.
In the highly competitive culture at St. George’s Hospital, Gray had started to make a name for himself even before embarking on the Anatomy by entering the competition for the 1848 Triennial prize of the Royal College of Surgeons, which had set the research topic to be the nerve origins of the human eye as illustrated by comparative vertebrate anatomy. Gray won the award and then had the further good fortune to have his paper read before the Royal Society by the famed ophthalmologist William Bowman.
Gray’s promising career was cut short at age 34 when he died of smallpox in 1861.
Submitted by Ron Fishman of the Cogan Ophthalmic History Society.