Burke and Hare were infamous suppliers of corpses to the Edinburgh medical establishment in a reign of terror 1827-8. History remembers them as body snatchers, but there is no proof that the pair ever robbed a grave; instead they created fresh corpses by suffocating hand-picked victims. This is just one of the myths exploded by this 'bloody history' featuring trial reports, confessions, prison records and contemporary illustrations. A rich cast of characters includes the pairs' implicated lovers, Helen and Margaret; Professor Knox who received the bodies; and, local victims from 'Daft Jamie' to ageing prostitute Mary Haldane. New light is thrown on the bodies trade through a recent find at The National Archives: a confession from John Bishop - perhaps a copycat 'burker' - who with Thomas Williams was executed for the murder of the 'Italian boy' in 1831.
Alanna Knight is one of Scotland's foremost crime writers. Her many books include the popular Inspector Faro series about a Victorian detective, set in her home city of Edinburgh. She lives round the corner from Dr Knox's address.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Dark Side of Glittering Edinburgh1 A Dangerous Foursome2 A Debt Paid in Blood3 Supply and Demand of Corpses4 Greed, Complacency and Betrayal5 Burke on the Anatomist's SlabFurther Reading, Acknowledgements and Index