Released on 10 January 2019.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

4.05 based on 435307 ratings & 26982 reviews on

2010 Winner

The Wellcome Trust Book Prize


With an introduction by author of The Tidal Zone, Sarah Moss

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. Born a poor black tobacco farmer, her cancer cells – taken without her knowledge – became a multimillion-dollar industry and one of the most important tools in medicine. Yet Henrietta’s family did not learn of her ‘immortality’ until more than twenty years after her death, with devastating consequences . . .

Rebecca Skloot’s fascinating account is the story of the life, and afterlife, of one woman who changed the medical world for ever. Balancing the beauty and drama of scientific discovery with dark questions about who owns the stuff our bodies are made of, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is an extraordinary journey in search of the soul and story of a real woman, whose cells live on today in all four corners of the world.

Now a HBO film starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne.

In the media

A fine book . . . a gripping read . . . The book has deservedly been a huge bestseller in the US. It should be here, too.
Sunday Times

No dead woman has done more for the living . . . A fascinating, harrowing, necessary book.

A heartbreaking account of racism and injustice . . . Moving and magnificent.