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The Old Operating Theatre Museum
9A St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY London, United Kingdom
Robert Knox is best known for having bought the bodies of at least sixteen murder victims from Burke and Hare, a trade that came to light in the Edinburgh anatomy scandal of 1828. Hare turned King’s evidence, Burke was hanged, dissected and displayed, but Knox was never prosecuted. The publicity increased attendance at his already very popular lectures, but put him out of favour with the College of Surgeons and the University. Running short of material for classes, and having been caught falsifying a student’s attendance certificate, Knox decamped to London as Britain’s first public anatomy lecturer. Despite never having held a university post, and abandoning dissection altogether in later life, he became the most celebrated anatomist living, a pioneer of racial and evolutionary theory, and a passionate advocate of transcendental anatomy, claiming that by placing all living creatures in their correct order he could perceive, aesthetically, the common types from which they had arisen. It was in these ideal forms that the true nature of beauty became apparent: Knox’s goal was to unite anatomy, aesthetics and metaphysics to produce a biological theory of everything. Ironically, this innovative work has been all but forgotten, and Knox is remembered for his failings, which have made him the most written about British medical man of all time. This lecture will explore the radical ideas of the most inspirational, and flawed, anatomist of all time.
Join Alan Bates, Coroner’s pathologist, Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, and the author of The Anatomy of Robert Knox, for the second lecture on the Tales from the Dark Side Series.
Doors will open at 6:30 PM.
*Access: The Museum is only accessible through a 52-step spiral staircase.