Books bound in human skin!

April 8, 2008

My dad sent me a link to this article, and I thought I should share it here.

I suppose there’s not much one can say about it, besides “Books bound in human skin!” but isn’t that fun to say? Apparently there’s an actual name for it: anthropodermic bibliopegy. That’s fun to say, too.

The article includes this inscription, found in the back of one book found in the Harvard Law Library:

The bynding of this booke is all that remains of my deare friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King btesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace.

Another story of anthropodermic bibliopegy:

There are numerous variations on the story of a tubercular female countess who is love-struck by French astronomer Camille Flammarion and bequeaths some of her skin for the binding of his Terres du Ciel. In one version of the story, she invites him to her chateau and tells him that he must accept a present upon her death, which he agrees to without knowing what it will be. In a variation on this story, she is moved to do this because he compliments her on her shoulders and she wants him to never forget her. In yet another variation, she actually has his picture tattooed on the piece of her skin that is used for the book. The actual inscription in the book, however, indicates that he may have only known that the donor of the skin was female. Regardless of the exact details, the book was bound with her skin and placed in the library of the observatory at Juvisy.

As you can see, a very entertaining article.


  1. Ooh, I’ve see one of those – the Police Museum in Edinburgh has a book bound in the skin of either Burke or Hare – I think Burke. Burke and Hare are the two who murdered people to provide corpses for Edinburgh University’s anatomy classes.

  2. I suppose it’s fitting that Burke and/or Hare’s bodies were scavenged in some way after they died, but a little weird, too, no?

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