Dying for Victorian Medicine

Hurren, Elizabeth T.
Date published: 
January 2014

The 19th century business of anatomy was lucrative. In a Victorian underworld commercial body dealers bought dead paupers from asylums, infirmaries and workhouses. They sold the nameless and friendless on to teaching hospitals and medical students for dissection. Corpses travelled in dead boxes on railway trains to get fresh cadavers quickly to trainee doctors; others were bought in the street where they died. For the first time, all the suppliers paid in petty cash along this human supply chain are rediscovered, and their financial profiteering in bodies and body parts.