Inside information

Govard Bidloo FRS, Anatomia Humani Corporis

Govard Bidloo FRS, Anatomia Humani Corporis (Amsterdam, 1685)

Bidloo (1649-1713) was a Dutch physician and professor of anatomy and surgery at Leiden, and later became personal physician to William III, king of England. The detailed engravings for his book were prepared by the Dutch artist Gerard de Lairesse. They were reused without Bidloo's permission by the English surgeon William Cowper, prompting accusations of plagiarism from Bidloo but Cowper's English text proved very popular.

Two-headed boy of Bengal, watercolour drawing, c. 1790

'Two-headed boy of Bengal', watercolour drawing, c. 1790

Human malformations were particularly fascinating for early scientists. By studying unusual cases such as this one, they were able to learn more about the body's development and functions. The 'two-headed boy' was born in Bengal in 1783 and lived to the age of four before dying of a cobra bite. An English physician in India sent this illustration to the Royal Society with a written report. The boy's skull is now in the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

Hreny Gray Anatomy

Henry Gray FRS, Anatomy, Descriptive and Surgical (London, 1897)

Gray (1826/7-1861) trained at St George's Hospital in London, where he was later appointed lecturer in anatomy. His famous Anatomy, Descriptive and Surgical was first published in 1858, and became the most widely-used medical text ever published in modern times. By 1958 there had been twenty-six new editions printed. The significance of the book, which is popularly known as 'Gray's Anatomy', lay in its meticulous detail and excellent illustrations. These were engraved from original drawings by Henry Vandyke Carter, an epidemiologist who assisted Gray with his dissections