The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Rebecca Skloot

4.06 based on 560881 ratings & 33794 reviews on

2010 Winner

The Wellcome Trust Book Prize

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07 March 2019
464 pages

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.

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

Hilary Mantel - Guardian

An extraordinary mix of memoir and science reveals the story of how one woman’s cells have saved countless lives.

Daily Telegraph

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