Gray's Anatomy

Gray's Anatomy

"Henry Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body" (or "Gray's Anatomy" as it has commonly been shortened) is an English-language human anatomy textbook widely regarded as a classic work on the subject.

The book was first published under the title "Gray's Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical" in the United Kingdom in 1858, and the following year in the United States. While studying the anatomical effects of infectious diseases, Gray contracted smallpox from his dying nephew and died shortly after the publication of the 1860 second edition, at the age of 34. Work on his much-praised book was continued by others and on 24 November 2004, the 39th British edition was released.


The British anatomist Henry Gray was born in 1827. He studied the development of the endocrine glands and spleen and in 1853 was appointed Lecturer on Anatomy at St. George's Hospital Medical School in London. In 1855 he approached his colleague Dr Henry Vandyke Carter with his idea to produce an inexpensive and accessible anatomy textbook for medical students. Dissecting unclaimed bodies from workhouse and hospital mortuaries through the Anatomy Act of 1832, the two worked for 18 months on what would form the basis of the book. Gray's death came just three years after the publication of his "Anatomy Descriptive and Surgical".

The 1878 U.S. edition appears to have started edition numbering afresh (despite the British version's prior publication in the U.S. in 1858). This "first" U.S. edition roughly corresponded to the eighth British edition, with consecutively numbered further U.S. editions appearing thereafter. This led to the existence, for many years, of two main "flavours" or "branches" of "Gray's Anatomy": the U.S. and the British one. This can easily cause misunderstandings and confusion, especially when quoting from or trying to purchase a certain edition.

Most recent available editions

As of December 2007, the latest edition of "Gray's Anatomy" is the 39th edition, published on 24 November 2004, in the UK and U.S., which is also available in CD-ROM format. The publisher is Churchill Livingstone in the UK while it is C.V. Mosby in the U.S., and is published in New York City. The two books are almost identical, with minor changes made to take into account differences in British and American terminology (e.g. Adrenaline vs Epinephrine). According to the publisher's [ website] , the 40th edition is due for release by the end of September 2008 ("Expected Release Date: 09/26/2008").

A version of "Gray's Anatomy" called "Gray's Anatomy for Students" has also been published. It was published on 5 October 2004, in the United Kingdom and 15 October 2004, in the United States, by Churchill Livingstone. However, it should be noted that this is an entirely new book, written from scratch, sharing only the name of the classic.

Older editions of the book continue to be reprinted and sold. On the World Wide Web, there are many offers for what seem to be reprints of the 1901 (probably U.S.) edition. Although such prints may serve artistic uses because their companion illustrations and anatomical cross sections are renowned for their rustic and often haunting presentation, they no longer represent up-to-date anatomical knowledge, as much less was known at the time, and much of what was known at that time has since been found to be incorrect.

Henry Gray wrote the original version of "Gray's Anatomy" with an audience of medical students and physicians in mind, especially surgeons. For many decades however, precisely because Gray's textbook became such a classic, successive editors made major efforts to preserve its position as possibly the most authoritative text on the subject in the English language. Toward this end, a long-term strategy appears to have been to have the book contain a "fully comprehensive" account of the anatomical and medical knowledge available at the time of publication of each editionFact|date=March 2008. Given the explosion of medical knowledge in the 20th century, it is easily appreciated that this led to a vast expansion of the book, which threatened to collapse under its own weight in a metaphorical and physical sense. From the 35th edition onward, increased efforts have been made to reverse this trend and keep the book readable by students. Nevertheless, the 38th edition contained 2,092 pages in large format.

Newer editions of "Gray's Anatomy" (and even several older ones) are still considered to be about the most comprehensive and detailed books of such type on the subject Fact|date=March 2008. .

The senior editor of the latest, 39th edition of "Gray's Anatomy" is Professor Susan Standring, who is Head of the Department of Anatomy and Human Sciences at King's College London.

See also

* List of human anatomical features
* List of images and subjects in Gray's Anatomy

External links and references

* "Gray's Anatomy: The Anatomical Basis of Medicine and Surgery", 39th edition (2004), 1600 pages, Churchill-Livingstone, ISBN 0-443-07168-3 — the U.K version.
* "Gray's Anatomy: The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice", 39th edition (2004), 1627 pages, C.V. Mosby, ISBN 0-443-07168-3 — the U.S. version.
* Hayes, Bill. [ "The Anatomist: a True story of Gray's Anatomy". NY:Ballantine, 2008. ISBN 978-345-456892.
* [ Publisher's page for the U.K. 39th edition] (book, ISBN 0-443-07168-3)
* [ Publisher's page for the U.S. 39th version] (book, ISBN 0-443-07168-3)
* [ Publisher's page for the 39th edition's CD-ROM format] (CD-ROM, ISBN 0-443-06675-2)
* — The complete 20th U.S. edition of Gray's "Anatomy of the Human Body", published in 1918, the content of which is in the public domain.
* — A comprehensive history of the British Edition of the book
* Online version of "Gray's Anatomy" from [ Yahoo]

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