On May 6, 1845, he entered as a perpetual student at St. George’s Hospital, London, and he is described by those who knew him as a most painstaking and methodical worker, and one who learnt his anatomy by the slow but invaluable method of making dissections for himself.
While still a student, he secured in 1848, the triennial prize of Royal College of Surgeons for an essay entitled “The Origin, Connexions and Distribution of nerves to the human eye and its appendages, illustrated by comparative dissections of the eye in other vertebrate animals”.
At the early age of twenty five he was in 1852, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and in the following year he obtained the Astley Cooper of three hundred guineas for a dissertation ”On the structure and Use of Spleen”.
In 1858 Gray published the first edition of his Anatomy, which covered 750 pages and contained 363 figures. He had the good fortune of securing the help of his friend Dr. H V Vandyke Carter, a skilled draughtsman and formerly a demonstrator of anatomy at St. George’s Hospital. Carter made the drawings from which the engravings were executed, and the success of the book was, in the first instance, undoubtedly due in small measure to the excellence of its illustrations. This edition was dictated to Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie, Bart, FRS, DCL. A second edition was prepared by Gray and published in 1860.
He held successively the posts of demonstrator of Anatomy, curator of the museum, and Lecturer of Anatomy at St. George’s Hospital, and was in 1861 a candidate for the post of assistant surgeon. Unfortunately, he was struck down by an attack of confluent smallpox, which he contracted while looking after a nephew who was suffering from that disease and died at the early age of thirty-four.
(Note: the following information has been extracted from an article which appeared in the St. George’s Hospital Gazette of 21st May, 1906. & has been taken directly from Gray’s Anatomy-Thirty-seventh International Student Edition).
The book is still published under the title Gray's Anatomy and is still widely appreciated as an extraordinary book for medical students.