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Humanities LibreTexts

5.6: The Body-Snatcher

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  • Again, an author better known for other, longer works, such as Treasure Island (pirates!) and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (a precursor to the Hulk, perhaps?). This story was inspired by the real-live events of Burke and Hare, who got a little too greedy during the the heyday of the illegal practice of “bodysnatching.” Also known as “resurrection men,” these unsavory types made a lot of money selling fresh corpses they dug up from the local cemetaries to surgeons who were hungry for cadavers on which to practice the budding medical science of surgery. The demand was so great that often surgeons didn’t want to know, and didn’t ask, where the bodies had come from, or how fresh they really were.

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