Episode 1: Why Did Anatomists Hire Body Snatchers?
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In this Episode:
I look at events before the rise of the professional body snatcher, when students and anatomists carried out their own midnight raids in graveyards to get cadavers for the dissecting table.
I also look briefly at the most famous body snatching case of them all, the snatching of ‘The Irish Giant’ Charles Byrne in 1783.
We’ll also look at how a change in the law in 1788 was the turning point for the anatomists and medical students to head out of the graveyard and back into the dissecting rooms, leaving the way clear for the professional body snatcher to ply his trade.
Taking Things Further & Recommended Reading
If you’d like to see this episode written in full on my blog post, in all its glory with pictures and full links to other blog posts etc. then you can find it here
Wendy Moore ‘The Knife Man’: A superbly written biography on the life of William Hunter, the anatomist who opened a private anatomy school in Great Windmill Street, London and who stole the body of the Irish Giant, Charles Byrne.
Martin Fido ‘Bodysnatchers: A History of The Resurrectionists’: One of the first books on body snatching that I ever bought and I dip into it still nearly every day.
Hubert Cole ‘Things For The Surgeon’: A classic, just like Fido’s work -although now very hard to get hold of and horrendously expensive.
If you’d like to read more on the cases discussed in this episode, plus many others, you can find them in my book Bodysnatchers: Digging Up The Untold Stories of Britain’s Resurrection Men’ since publishing I’ve found many more body snatching cases so I hope you’ll keep joining me on my blog and for more podcast episodes.
Ruth Richardson ‘Death, Dissection & The Destitute’: A must for any body snatching fan’s bookcase. Although over 30 years old now, this work is an absolute classic in the medical history sector and I can’t recommend it enough.
‘The Diary of A Resurrectionist’written between November 1811 – December 1812 by a one-time member of the famous London band of body snatchers the Borough Gang. A fantastic insight into the world of body snatching, this little book is an absolute MUST READ.
With background information about this dark art, written by James Blake Bailey, Librarian of The Royal College of Surgeons, London in the late 19th century, it’s a great starting point for those new to the subject area and a valuable resource for those with an unhealthy obsession like mine.
It’s available as a FREE download on the Project Gutenberg Website or if you’re like me and need to read a hard copy, you can get it easily enough via the link above.