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The Body Snatcher

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  2,164 ratings  ·  195 reviews
Fettes and Macfarlane are young Edinburgh medical students. They are also, under the guidance of a famous professor of anatomy, grave-robbers. As the pair resort to ever more extreme methods of acquiring fresh bodies, damnation looms…
Paperback, 22 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by Travelman Publishing (first published December 1884)
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3.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,164 ratings  ·  195 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic
”To bodies that had been laid in earth, in joyful expectation of a far different awakening, there came that hasty, lamplit, terror-haunted resurrection of the spade and mattock.”

 photo Grave_zpsngnpucez.jpg

A group of friends have a habit of getting together in a hotel tavern to drink and tell tall tales, but sometimes the true stories are the ones that are more frightening than those spawned from the most vivid imaginations. The curiosity of one of the friends, a writer, is roused when he sees his friend Fettes brace an e
Sidharth Vardhan
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Frankly, I can't judge the anatomists of the time as far as stealing dead bodies is concerned. They wouldn't have been able to carry out the research without them, (which in the long run only benefited humanity) and religious superstitions and emotional attachments ensured they won't have enough of them otherwise.

Based on true incidences. See Jeffrey's review for details.
"No rest for the wicked."

First published in 1884, the characters herein "were based on criminals in the employ of real-life surgeon Robert Knox (1791-1862) around the time of the notorious Burke and Hare murders. (1828)"

THE BODY-SNATCHER is an eerie classic tale that begins when old friends having drinks bring up the name of a Dr. Wolfe Macfarlane, a well known London physician who soon, one....enters the Inn.

An angry confrontation quickly develops between two old students o

The Body Snatcher is a short horror story written by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). It was first published in 1884.

Every night, the narrator and his three friends (Fettes, the undertaker—and the Landlord) gather in the George—an Inn at Debenham— to drink and converse. Fettes is an old drunken Scotsman, who had become known as “the Doctor” due to his special knowledge of medicine. However, the antecedents of this latter remain a mystery to everyone around him. One night,
Dean the Bibliophage
The Body Snatcher is a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson; its characters are based on criminals and it possibly derived from an Edinburgh urban legend. Don't get me wrong, Stevenson is a wonderfully gifted author whose fiction has been enjoyed by generations of readers; but this story was devoid of the 'wow factor' otherwise enjoyed in his other books and I didn't really connect with the narrative, characters or setting. There are, however, some good examples of dialogue between Fettes and M ...more
classic reverie
I love to read books that I have either seen the movie or listened to on OTR (old time radio), sometimes they are just as written but a lot of the times, the director changes several things which can put another it into a not so sinister light. In this case the book is more dark, if you can get darker by Body Snatching. The book has an ending that is mysterious which I did not remember but when googling the 1945 movie it had a kind of spin like the book but more decisive. The movie version had m ...more
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This is essentially a tale based loosely on the escapades of Burke and Hare who worked for the infamous anatomist Robert Knox, supplying his private medical school in Edinburgh with dead bodies for dissection. It was common that bodies for medical research were dug up from recent burials, but Burke and Hare's corpses were uncannily fresh - and that's because they weren't grave robbers... instead they created corpses through murder.

It was too much of a temptation for Edinburgh-born novelist Robe
Robert Louis Stevenson, most well know for the famous Jekyll & Hide, has crafted a creepy, atmospheric, and elegantly written short story about grave robbery. This entertaining story contains only one real flaw which is that it leads to a rather disappointing ending.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What does it take to be a resurrection man. Was that job good for the medical industry or just plain bad.
Wayne Barrett
Oct 28, 2016 rated it liked it


Just okay. Well written but a little boring.
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Classic Horror Fans
I read this story out of a Classic Ghost Stories collection. This is one of those horror stories that is supposedly a supernatural tale, but really it's psychological, dealing with the depths that humans will sink to out of greed and desperation. It's pretty bleak and ugly, but it had a good message and a few good scares. RLS is an author I want to read more of. He has the writing style I enjoy!
Mar 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great end, short & to the point - several good ones, actually. The need for corpses for the burgeoning medical field in the early 19th century coupled with the laws & customs against using them led to some horrific lapses in ethics & the law. They led to this, a classic horror story that was loosely based on the Burke & Hare murders.
That's a book in which you can definitely see Stevenson's influences : macabre atmosphere, some fantastic elements, a story around the crimes happening in a huge city such as Edinburgh, this kinda obsession with science, and the problem of what is good and what is evil.

It's an extremely short book, so short it wouldn't even count as a novella today. It's a short story following Fettes and Macfarlane, two young medical students working for Doctor K— and how both of them got to work as grave-robbe
Nadosia Grey
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: short-stories
It was ok but I felt, such as with Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde, that there was something missing. I liked the characters but I wished that it was longer so I could get to know them better. The ending in my opinion was really pointless. I'm not sure what genre this short story fits into but surely it does not horrify, shock, or disturb me. This may have to do with the way in which is was written. I'm half convinced that if it was written by someone else with a different prose, it would have made a bet ...more
Althea Ann
Dec 15, 2014 rated it liked it
(1884) Great set-up, excellent writing... but the 'scary' ending didn't work for me at all. I felt like it was on the level of spooky stories kids tell each other during sleepover parties (do kids still do that?)
It's about some young medical students whose duty to procure dead bodies for their eminent professor leads them down a spiral of moral depravity and blackmail. A nice exploration of guilt and complicity.
Nikki "The Crazie Betty" V.
A classic short story from the 19th century that is about exactly what it’s title proclaims. Body snatching. And the moral ambiguity and consequences that comes with it. A good quick horror read for anyone that enjoys the classics of literature.

I read this for the Goodreads ‘Horror Aficionados Public Domain Challenge’ and the ‘Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge’ for 2018.
Oliviu Craznic
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gothic
This excellent short story is inspired by the true and infamous case of dr Robert Knox („dr K...”, in the tale).
The equally excellent film adaptation stars Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.
Marwan Emad
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A Classic tale, telling a Classic horror story, signifying the ugliness of a not-uncommon activity taking place even till nowadays!
You will get those shivers in this one, I asure you. Being a Medical Student myself, in a 3rd world country, we’ve had rumors of how these bodies reach the morgue & our anatomy classes. We’re told that these are bodies found having no identities and no know relatives, or criminals that have been excuted with no relatives to take the bodies .. However it has alway
Colleen Houck
Oh, this one was creepy. It's a good one to read around Halloween if you're looking for a scare. I guess the doctors needed fresh corpses to work on back in the day and it didn't matter so much where they got them. Shudder. You can read the rest for yourself.
David Sarkies
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who like horror
Recommended to David by: My book club
Shelves: horror
Medical Science in 19th Century England
5 February 2014

As I was reading this book the thought that was going through my mind was how doctors in the 19th Century would, during the middle of the night, raid graveyards for freshly buried corpses, exhume them, and take them back to their laboratories to dissect them. This story however goes a little further because it is suggested that the main character goes beyond exhuming freshly buried corpses to creating his own corpses.
However, as I thought a
Apr 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror
I'm not really into horror stories because I have enough trouble sleeping already. I gave "The Flayed Hand" by Guy de Maupassant only a quick flip at the bookstore a long time ago because I found it pretty scary. The only horror story I'd properly read before RLS' "The Body Snatcher" was W.W. Jacob's "The Monkey's Paw", which I read for my English Lit class.

So, I don't have much experience with horror stories, and the best I can do is compare "The Body Snatcher" with "The Monkey's Paw."

The ver
Inspired by a real murder case, where Burke and Hare murdered fifteen people and sold the bodies to a private anatomy school. Not really scary per se (more like a tale of conscience and principles), but pleasantly moody in a traditional ghost story way. The ending reminded me of a particularly unpleasant one, that I had already forgotten. Crap. The whole body snatching thing is a really interesting topic, which shows the wonderful weirdness of people back then.
Timothy Ball
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: tim-s-shelf
"Macfarlane somehow felt a certain touch of alarm at these
unpleasant words. He may have regretted that he had taught
his young companion so successfully, but he had no time to interfere, for the other noisily continued in this boastful
“The great thing is not to be afraid. Now, between you and
me, I don’t want to hang—that’s practical; but for all cant,
Macfarlane, I was born with a contempt. Hell, God, Devil,
right, wrong, sin, crime, and all the old gallery of curiosities
—they may fr
Caroline Åsgård
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
We have all heard the stories about body snatchers and graverobbers back in the day. This another one of them, and it has a little mystery to it, and I guess a supernatural twist. I didn't think it was great, but maybe it was at the time?
Laura Guilbault
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Didn't really care for it.
Oct 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, fiction
An entertaining and very short story about murder and grave-robbing.
Eriza Alica
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it
The plot was really good & the language was remarkable. But somehow I think it was not well delivered.It was hard to grasp the story. & Progress of the story was really slow.
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Classic gothic horror story. Well written and constructed. The thick macabre atmosphere of old Edinburgh at secretive and ghostly hours is fantastic.
Timothy Urban
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great short story. Wish it had been developed into a novel.
Adeline Reads
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This was different and kind of um weird...
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Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer, and a leading representative of English literature. He was greatly admired by many authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling and Vladimir Nabokov.

Most modernist writers dismissed him, however, because he was popular and did not write within their narrow definition of literature. It is onl
“You can't begin and then stop. If you begin, you must keep on beginning: that's the truth. No rest for the wicked.” 1 likes
“Every night in the year, four of us sat in the small parlour of the George at Debenham - the undertaker, and the landlord, and Fettes, and myself.” 1 likes
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