The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks named by more than 60 critics, including New York Times, The New Yorker, People, USA Today, O, The Oprah Magazine, NPR, Boston Globe, Financial Times, and Los Angeles Times, as one of the best books of 2010.

Special Features


Below you will find a slide show of bonus photos related to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks not included in the book’s photo insert. Hover your mouse over each image to see the photo’s caption below.

Also: for newly released archival photos of Crownsville State Hospital (formerly known as “The Hospital for The Negro Insane”), where Henrietta’s daughter was institutionalized until her death at age 15, visit the Baltimore Sun’s Crownsville Archives, for a slideshow and more information. And visit The Bowie State Scholars Studio and click on the “Crownsville” link for additional history and photos.


Listen to the Radiolab piece on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks which includes audio footage from Rebecca Skloot’s research tapes. Hear the voice of George Gey and other central characters, and listen to key scenes from the book: Deborah seeing her mother’s cells for the first time, Gary Lacks’s faith healing, and more.


Watch a trailer of The Immortal Book Tour, in which Rebecca Skloot talks about her book and the Lacks family joins her in public appearances discussing the legacy of Henrietta Lacks, their feelings about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and more.
Rebecca Skloot discusses a key (if unorthodox) moment in her book reporting process that helped her win Deborah Lacks’s trust. Hint: It involves being bitten by dozens of ticks and bathing in salad dressing.
HeLa Cells Dividing (with on-screen captions from the scientist who created this YouTube video): HeLa cells dividing over 27 hours. Cells round up, grow hair, and then divide.
Rebecca Skloot wrote The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks using a braided story structure that jumps around between multiple time periods and multiple narratives. In the video below, Skloot explains how she worked out the book’s structure with the help of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and Hurricane, the film about Hurricane Carter the boxer.

For more videos in which Rebecca Skloot discusses her writing and researching process (including telling several stories about her time with Deborah Lacks that didn’t end up in the book), how she came up with the braided structure for her book, how she writes about science so it’s understandable to a wide general audience, and much more, visit the Writing Resources page of this site.

You can also watch the BBC documentary, The Way of All Flesh, which Skloot discusses in several chapters of her book. (Link opens to new window.)

Additional Resources

Please visit the Teaching page of this site for more resources related to The Immortal Life, including a timeline and cast of characters, discussions with Rebecca Skloot, additional photos and video footage, and more. For book groups interested in discussion guides and other book group related resources, please visit the Reading Groups page of this site. And see Rebecca’s detailed Frequently Asked Questions page, for extensive information on The Immortal Life, her writing process, what she’s doing now, updates on the Lacks family, and more.