The True and Horrid Story of Burke and Hare

burkehareAn illustrated lecture and book signing by Lisa Rosner, Professor of History at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
Date: Thursday, March 18th
Time: 8:00 PM
Admission: $5
Presented by Morbid Anatomy

Up the close and down the stair,
But and Ben with Burke and Hare.
Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief,
Knox the man who buys the beef.

—anonymous street song

On March 18, 2010, Lisa Rosner will be discussing the myths and realities of the Burke and Hare case, resurrected in her recent book The Anatomy Murders: Being the True and Spectacular History of Edinburgh’s Notorious Burke and Hare and of the Man of Science Who Abetted Them in the Commission of Their Most Heinous Crimes.

On Halloween night 1828, in the West Port district, a woman sometimes known as Madgy Docherty was last seen in the company of William Burke and William Hare. Days later, police discovered her remains in the surgery of the prominent anatomist Dr. Robert Knox. Docherty was the final victim of the most atrocious murder spree of the century, outflanking even Jack the Ripper’s. Together with their accomplices, Burke and Hare were accused of killing sixteen people over the course of twelve months in order to sell their corpses as “subjects” for dissection. The ensuing criminal investigation  raised troubling questions about the common practices by which medical men obtained cadavers, the lives of the poor in Edinburgh’s back alleys, and the ability of the police to protect the public from cold-blooded murder.

Lisa Rosner is Professor of History at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. She received her AB from Princeton University and her PhD from Johns Hopkins University. She has been awarded fellowships from the American Philosophical Society, the National Endowment of the Humanities, the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and the New Jersey Historical Commission. The Anatomy Murders is the third book in her historical trilogy on Edinburgh medicine. The Worlds of Burke and Hare, the companion website to The Anatomy Murders, is available at Burke and Hare.

Image used by permission of the Library of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

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