London, 1868: visiting Australian Aboriginal cricketer Charles Rose has died in Guy's Hospital. What happened next is shrouded in mystery. The only certainty is that Charles Rose's body did not go directly to a grave.
Written with clarity and verve, and drawing on a rich array of material, Possessing the Dead explores the disturbing history of the cadaver trade in Scotland, England and Australia, where laws once gave certain officials possession of the dead, and no corpse lying in a workhouse, hospital, asylum or gaol was entirely safe from interference.
With a rare blend of curiosity, delight in the unexpected and an eye for detail, award-winning historian Helen MacDonald brings to life this gruesome past to reveal the chicanery at play behind the procuring of bodies for dissections, autopsies and collections.