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Death, Dissection and the Destitute
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Death, Dissection and the Destitute

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  50 ratings  ·  11 reviews
In the early nineteenth century, body snatching was rife because the only corpses available for medical study were those of hanged murderers. With the Anatomy Act of 1832, however, the bodies of those who died destitute in workhouses were appropriated for dissection. At a time when such a procedure was regarded with fear and revulsion, the Anatomy Act effectively rendered ...more
Paperback, 453 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by University Of Chicago Press (first published January 1983)
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I purchased this book at the Museum of London, where I went to see their recent exhibition on the study of anatomy and bodysnatching. It is a fascinating read for anyone interested in medical history.

Richardson focuses the book on the British 1832 Anatomy Act, by which the state laid claim to any "unclaimed" bodies in hospitals and workhouses and allowed them to be given to anatomists for dissection. To analyse the impact of the Act, Richardson provides a background study of the human corpse in
Cited as source and for further reading by James McGee in his enjoyable book Resurrectionist (Matthew Hawkwood, #2) by James McGee Resurrectionist the fictional account of his main character Matthew Hawkwood the Bow Street runner and body snatchers and medical experimentation.
This is a very scholarly work about England's Anatomy Act in the 1800's and the events that led up to its passage.

While I think this is a very interesting topic, the dryness of the delivery sucked some of the life out of it for me. I was also a little frustrated with the author's structuring; for the most part, the book seemed to be set up in chronological order but then random off shoots would jump forward in time to prove a point about what had happened before them. I feel confused writing tha
Michael Shtur
What an exciting topic; imagine a time where scientists had to provide their own experimentation material. This was a tumultuous time in medical history, where the need to progress our knowledge crashed with religion and obscurantism. Scientists were the "rock stars" of the age, and they risked everything, at times, to advance our knowledge of our bodies. Aren't we all happy they did? Because of these pioneers, we can have surgery without invariably dying. Richardson does an enigmatically wonder ...more
"If you've got nothing, you can't do nothing about it."
- London Undertaker, 1978
Richardson provides a very well-researched history of the creation of the Anatomical Acts in Britain. Apart from her very well done documentary research, Richardson also provides the reader with the cultural implications of dissection and grave robbing. She is keen to point out how class and social position also played important roles in the legislation. Overall, I found the book very informative and very applicable to the anatomical acts passed in late nineteenth century America.
Oh my goodness I loved this book. Richardson does a brilliant job at analyzing the dissection of the poor in 19th Century London. This has been a phenomenal help for my essay, and was a really interesting and engaging read besides that.

A+ job, thank you very very much to the author.
Look, I know this is supposed to be a landmark book or whatever, but it's just so...boring! Just good quotes at the beginning, but the subject matter about the Anatomy Act just didn't interest me. It was too macro.
Marsha Altman
Very thorough and well-researched book on the history of the Anatomy Act. Unfortunately, 2/3rds of it is about the technical aspects of passing bills in Parliament, and is not very interesting.
MoIra Rivas
The afterword is worth reading, it makes correlations to todays practices that are interesting.
Krista McCracken
Fantastic work on the Anatomy Act of 1832.
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