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Clin Anat. 2016 Mar;29(2):135-9. doi: 10.1002/ca.22681.

Henry Gray, plagiarist.

Author information

1
Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for Life-Writing Research, King's College London, London, WC2R 2LS, UK.

Abstract

The first edition of Anatomy Descriptive and Surgical (1858) was greeted with accolades, but also provoked serious controversy concerning Henry Gray's failure to acknowledge the work of earlier anatomists. A review in the Medical Times (1859) accused Gray of intellectual theft. The journal took the unusual step of substantiating its indictment by publishing twenty parallel texts from Gray and from a pre-existing textbook, Quain's Anatomy. At the recent "Vesalius Continuum" conference in Zakynthos, Greece (2014) Professor Brion Benninger disputed the theft by announcing from the floor the results of a computer analysis of both texts, which he reported exonerated Gray by revealing no evidence of plagiarism. The analysis has not been forthcoming, however, despite requests. Here the historian of Gray's Anatomy supplements the argument set out in the Medical Times 150 years ago with data suggesting unwelcome personality traits in Henry Gray, and demonstrating the utility of others' work to his professional advancement. Fair dealing in the world of anatomy and indeed the genuineness of the lustre of medical fame are important matters, but whether quantitative evidence has anything to add to the discussion concerning Gray's probity can be assessed only if Benninger makes public his computer analysis.

KEYWORDS:

England; anatomy; controversy; history

PMID:
26696521
DOI:
10.1002/ca.22681
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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