What Is Gray's Anatomy? – It's More Than Just a Television Show

When one thinks of Gray’s Anatomy, a couple things come to mind. First, Katherine Heigl. Second, the television show that is a rather popular medically-based drama. However, what many people don’t really know is that Gray’s Anatomy is actually a medical textbook that has updated editions and is over 150 years old. In fact, Gray’s Anatomy is considered one of the definitive textbooks when it comes to overall medical knowledge of the human anatomy.

Who Was Henry Gray?

Henry Gray, who was the author of Gray’s Anatomy, was born in the early 1800’s. After going through medical school, he got together with a friend of his and together they studied the bodies of unclaimed individuals from local morgues to put together the first compendium of knowledge in regards to the human anatomy. However, he managed to contract smallpox and he passed away just three years after the publication of his first compendium at the age of 34. Despite this fact, however, his name has become synonymous with the field of human biology. His name continues to live on with every update to Gray’s Anatomy that is published, and that is his legacy.

Why Is Gray’s Anatomy So Popular

Even today, older editions of Gray’s Anatomy are routinely sold to people who have no need for a medical textbook. That’s because the artwork that is included in the older editions is best described as accurate, fascinating, and haunting. In fact, much of the knowledge that Gray obtained from his partner and the depictions, though updated with modern technologies, is still in use in the most current 40th edition, which is kind of crazy considering it is in use 150 years later after the very first publication. That’s the strength of Gray’s Anatomy as a textbook, however. It is the definitive source of information on human biology because it is continually updated, modernized, and informative. There simply isn’t another medical textbook like it.

The Editions of Gray’s Anatomy Are Whacky

One of the interesting things about Gray’s Anatomy is that an American publisher purchased the rights to publish the textbook in America in the early 1900’s. So with a British publisher putting out new editions and an American publisher also doing the same thing, the actual editions are out of sync because they weren’t published at the same time. For example, the 30th edition that was printed in the United Kingdom was published in the late 1940’s, but the 30th edition that published in America occurred in 1980. After that publication, it was decided to bring the editions together, which is why at this moment, there is one generalized 40th edition of the book.

When it comes to Gray’s Anatomy, there is inarguably not another textbook or publication that not only changed the world’s understanding of human biology, but is also still in existence and widely used. Not bad for a guy who only lived into his mid 30’s and only published the first two versions of the textbook.