The book you see to your left has officially been identified as being bound in human skin. June 4th a tweet from the Harvard Library confirming that a copy of French writer Arsene Houssaye’s “Des destiness de l’ame” was given to friend Dr. Ludovic Bouland. The book in question, when translated, is a text entitled “a meditation on the soul and life after death.”
It was upon his receiving of the book that Buffalo Bill… oh I’m sorry Dr. Bouland bound the book in human skin (believed to belong to the back of an unclaimed female mental patient, who died of natural causes,) because, and I quote:
“I had kept this piece of human skin taken from the back of a woman, … A book about the human soul deserved to have a human covering,”
Though it is not uncommon to see a skin bound book in the Harvard Library, they are typically bound in sheep skin. And after many tests, including a check to make sure its not ape skin… cause that’s lest creepy… they concluded with 99.9% confidence that the cover is indeed human and not some makeshift paper bag book cover we all did in junior high and high school to protect our texts.
Although I’m sure a plethora of tests weren’t really necessary since Boulden was kind enough to leave a note within the book declaring that the book was lined with human flesh. Because why would someone lie about that, especially back in 1880.
In all seriousness though, I wouldn’t be surprised if more of these popped up in the future. Though the texts may be archaic, back in the 16th century it was common and even a manner of remembrance to bind a book in human flesh, or for criminal confessions to be bound in the perpetrators skin.
It is also known that numerous 19th Century accounts exist of the bodies of executed criminals being donated to science, their skins later given to bookbinders.
Turns out human skin