Leeuwenhoek, Antoni van
LEEUWENHOEK, ANTONI VAN
Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723) was born, and also died, in the city of Delft in the Netherlands. Although a linen draper by profession, Leeuwenhoek learned to make lenses and built over five hundred simple microscopes to conduct his numerous personal experiments. With these instruments, Leeuwenhoek investigated the natural world, including water, soil, and human excretions. Because he is considered the first person to have viewed and documented the existence of microscopic organisms, including bacteria, he has been called the first of the microbe hunters.
His lack of formal scientific training led Leeuwenhoek to concentrate on making observations rather than offering theories. Although he never published his work, Leeuwenhoek described his findings in a series of 165 letters to the Royal Society of London, beginning in 1673 and ending only with his death. His first letter, dated April 28, 1673, details his microscopic inspections of mold and bees.
His most famous letter is dated October 9, 1676. This letter communicates the results of a
Dobell, C. (1932). Anthony van Leeuwenhoek and His "Little Animals." Reprint. New York: Dover Publications, 1962.
Palm, L. C. (1982). Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, 1632–1723: Studies on the Life and Work of the Delft Scientist Commemorating the 350th Anniversary of His Birthday. Amsterdam: Rodopi B.V.