Beneath the Skin

Great writers on the body

Our bodies all have stories to tell – and who better to tell them than 15 of the world's finest writers?

Buried beneath layers of flesh, our hearts pump, our lungs inflate, our kidneys filter. These organs (and others) are essential to our survival but remain largely unknown to us.

In 'Beneath the Skin', 15 writers each explore a different body part. Naomi Alderman unravels the intestines and our obsession with food, Thomas Lynch celebrates the womb as a miracle, AL Kennedy explores the nose's striking ability to conjure memories, and Philip Kerr traces the remarkable history of brain surgery.

MORE: Read an extract from 'Beneath the Skin'

The human stomach, we discover, contains as many brain cells as a cat has in its skull. Our lungs weigh about the same as a loaf of bread. A traumatic memory can show itself on the skin. Moving, comical and often unexpected, this is an awe-inspiring voyage through the mysterious inner landscape of our bodies.

'Beneath the Skin' is published in association with Wellcome Collection and based on the BBC Radio 3 series 'A Body of Essays'.

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About the contributors

Photograph of Naomi Alderman

Naomi Alderman

Novelist and game writer

Photograph of A L Kennedy

A L Kennedy

A L Kennedy is a multi-award-winning Scottish writer of novels, short stories, drama, non-fiction and journalism. A Granta Best Young Novelist in 1993 and 2003, she is also an associate professor of creative writing at the University of Warwick. She plays the banjo, (badly, she says) and has performed as a stand-up comedian at the Edinburgh Fringe and literary festivals.

Photograph of Philip Kerr

Philip Kerr


Photograph of Thomas Lynch

Thomas Lynch

Poet, essayist and undertaker