Chief among the dark oddities of life in 18th- and 19th-century London is that the city, which produced so many dead, was itself forever in want of corpses. Grave robbers found stocking the labs of scientists and students such profitable work that they eventually ruled over their own pub, the Fortune of War, not far from St. Bartholomew's Hospital and Medical College. They even seized upon a lofty name for their trade: resurrectionists. This crew survived long after Parliament chose to furnish to the city's anatomists with the cadavers generated at the Old Bailey hanging grounds, a public abattoir so busy it would make Texas governors blanch. In the 1810s, body-theft got bad enough that entrepreneurial souls began peddling "coffin collars"—"cagelike iron structures that straddled the coffins and could be unlocked by thick iron keys held by the mourners." The Fortune of War crowd kept at... More >>>