Charles Babbage's dissected brain

A paper in a 1909 edition of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London described the dissection of Charles Babbage's brain. The whole article is on the Internet Archive, from which the Public Domain Review has plucked it.

Babbage himself decided that he wanted his brain to be donated to science upon his death. In a letter accompanying the donation, his son Henry wrote:

I have no objection…to the idea of preserving the brain…Please therefore do what you consider best…[T]he brain should be known as his, and disposed of in any manner which you consider most conducive to the advancement of human knowledge and the good of the human race.

Half of Babbage’s brain is preserved at the Hunterian Museum in the Royal College of Surgeons in London, the other half is on display in the Science Museum in London.

The Brain of Charles Babbage (1909)


  1. I feel the need to go on an epic quest to reunite the two halves of Babbage’s brain and use it’s awesome power to save the world.

    1. The non-Science Museum half was temporarily on display in the Wellcome Collection exhibition on brains. Managed to accidentally see both halves on the same day. If I’d known your quest then I would’ve done everything in my power to make it a reality…

  2. Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [to Igor] Now that brain that you gave me. Was it Charles Babbage’s?
    Igor: [pause, then] No.
    Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Ah! Very good. Would you mind telling me whose brain I DID put in?
    Igor: Then you won’t be angry?
    Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: I will NOT be angry.
    Igor: Abby someone.
    Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [pause, then] Abby someone. Abby who?
    Igor: Abby… Normal.
    Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: [pause, then] Abby Normal?
    Igor: I’m almost sure that was the name. 

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