Megan Rosenbloom’s first book, Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin publishes October 20, 2020.
A fascinating, terrifying look at the rarest books―bound in human skin―and the stories of their creation
There are books out there, some shelved unwittingly next to ordinary texts, that are bound in human skin. Would you know one if you held it in your hand?
In Dark Archives, Megan Rosenbloom, a medical librarian and a cofounder of the Death Salon, seeks out the historic and scientific truths behind anthropodermic bibliopegy. Dozens of these books still sit on the shelves of the world’s most famous libraries and museums. What are their stories? Dark Archives exhumes their origins and brings to life the doctors, murderers, women, and indigents whose lives are bound together in this rare, scattered, and disquieting collection. It also tells the story of the scientists, curators, and librarians like Rosenbloom – interested in the full complicated histories behind these dark artifacts of nineteenth-century medicine – are developing tests to discover these books and sorting through the ethics of custodianship.
A whip-smart and witty writer, Rosenbloom has crafted a narrative that is equal parts detective work, academic intrigue, history, and medical curiosity. Thrilling, captivating, and macabre in all the right ways, Dark Archives encourages us to take another look at the very serious ways in which the powerful have objectified people over time – perfect for fans of Mary Roach, Lindsey Fitzharris, and the art of collecting.
“An international treasure hunt, fascinating medical history, high level PR nightmare, and heartrending account of the real people whose flesh was turned into curiosities by the medical professionals they trusted.” ―Caitlin Doughty, author of Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions About Death
“Megan Rosenbloom is the perfect guide to a dark and sinister world populated by Victorian criminals, bodysnatchers, and dissectors―all of whom contributed to the gruesome art of binding books with human skin. A splendid read for Halloween Eve!” ―Lindsey Fitzharris, author of The Butchering Art