Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body is a medical textbook used by students worldwide. The book has become a classic of anatomical reference, and includes 1,247 detailed engravings of areas of anatomical interest. Medical students have been using Gray's Anatomy for over one hundred years, and the book is considered an exhaustive reference of the topic, along with an invaluable guide to medical students of all ages and levels of experience. Most doctors keep a copy of Gray's Anatomy in the office to consult when needed and use to assist in patient education.
Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body was originally published in England in 1858 as Anatomy Medical and Surgical by Henry Gray and Henry Vandyke Carter. Gray felt that the medical curriculum lacked a comprehensive and useful textbook, setting forth to fill the gap. Most anatomical texts of the period were pocket books, designed to appeal to students with limited space. However, these small books also had very small illustrations, and Gray felt that a detailed larger format anatomy book would serve students more effectively. In 1859, an edition was published in the United States as well, where the book became a runaway success.
The anatomical drawings in the first edition were created by Henry Vandyke Carter, who was given public recognition for his work although he received no royalties for it, but rather a single payment at the time of publication. He left for India after the plates had been delivered to the publisher, interested in exploring what was then a British Colony. Henry Gray died in 1861, causing fears that the anatomy book would not survive, with Carter adventuring in India. Gray's colleagues took up the torch and edited the next edition of Gray's Anatomy, ultimately securing a stable publisher as well.
While Gray wrote the foundation edition of Gray's Anatomy, many others contributed writing and drawings over the years. Gray's Anatomy has gone through a number of editors, and most of the text has been substantially reworked to reflect progress in the medical field. In 1938, the title Gray's Anatomy became official at the publisher as well as in common nomenclature, although the other contributors are listed within.
As of 2005, Gray's Anatomy had gone through 39 editions in the United States and Britain, two of which (1905 and 1973) represented substantial revisions to the text. Gray's Anatomy has expanded greatly since the first edition, including many more illustrations and incorporating new technologies such as x-ray plates. The test book continues to serve students well, and is regarded as a requirement for any good medical library.