The Diary of a Resurrectionist, 1811-1812

The Diary of a Resurrectionist, 1811-1812 (originally published in 1896)
By James Blake Bailey
November 1, 2022
ISBN-13: 9798986476001
138 pages

As The Butte Daily Post said in 1897, this book is a “gruesome publication.” The Diary covers a unique vocation that thrived in the early nineteenth century: Resurrectionist. It was a job created out of a need for anatomy schools to acquire bodies for dissection during lectures. Fresh bodies. And those willing to dig them up were paid handsomely for their morbid efforts. William Burke and William Hare, who you’ll read about within these pages, killed sixteen people in Edinburgh in 1828 in order to deliver the freshest bodies possible. The reproduction of the original 1896 book maintains the spellings and treatment of the diary entries. While the subject matter is fascinating, it should be consumed purely for your own education and curiosity. Curious Publications has no desire to see resurrectionism resurrected.


“Mr. Bailey has treated his queer, macabre subject with all possible discretion; but the odor of the charnel-house is not to every taste, and we hasten to burn a pastille.”

– London Chronicle, November 14, 1896.

“The ‘Diary of a Resurrectionist’ promises to be an interesting contribution to our knowledge of a practice which in the early days of this century caused widespread horror. Before the passing of the Anatomy Act there was no legal provision for a sufficient supply of bodies for use in the anatomical schools. The result was that the medical teachers obtained their subjects from men, generally known as resurrectionists or body-snatchers, who made a business of exhuming corpses and selling them to the profession.”

– The Guardian, August 22, 1896.

“A gruesome publication.”

– The Butte Daily Post, July 22, 1897.