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Hooke's Books banner featuring images of the title page from Micrographia with the words Hooke's Books beneath it. An image of a microscope with the words micrographia beneath it and the engraved portrait title page of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek with the words Hooke's influence underneath it. Hooke's Books home Hooke's Books Micrographia Hooke's Influence


Antoni van Leeuwenhœk (1632-1723) was Hooke's greatest student, rival, and successor in the world of microscopy. Although the two never met, Leeuwenhœk was clearly influenced by Hooke's accomplishments; he too ground his own lenses and built his own equipment. In his early years, Leeuwenhœk sent his findings to the Royal Society in London (Hooke's long-time employer), where they were published in the society's Philosophical Transactions, the first peer-reviewed scientific journal. Leeuwenhœk's later instruments were far stronger than Hooke's, and allowed him to see microscopic structures too small for Hooke's equipment to capture.


The frontispiece and title page of Leeuwenhoek’s collected works in Dutch, 1685-1718.  The verso shows a portrait of the Dutch scientist, while the recto is an elaborate tableau of classical figures honoring his name

Antoni van Leeuwenhœk
Ontdeckte Onsigtbaarheeden
6 Volumes; Leiden, 1685-1718.
Leeuwenhœk's collected works, showing the engraved portrait title page.
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This volume is actually a Latin translation, printed in the Netherlands, of letters originally published by the Royal Society in London. The illustrations show squamous cells found inside the mouth: one of the first representations of cells from the human body.

Squamous cells from the inside of the mouth, in an etching from a volume of letters by Leeuwenhoek and published by the Royal Society in London.
Antoni van Leeuwenhœk,
Anatomia et contemplatio nonnullorum naturae invisibilium secretorum comprehensorum epistolis quibusdam scriptis ad ... Societatis Regiae Londinensis Collegium
Leiden, 1685

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Extract of a letter from Leeuwenhoek, published in English in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.  Leeuwenhoek sent many letters describing his work to London, believing that their publication in English would make them more accessible to scholars, particularly Hooke.
An Extract of a Letter from Mr. Anth. Van Leuwenhoek, concerning Animalcules Found on the Teeth; Of the Scaleyness of the Skin, &c. Philosophical published in the Philosophical Transactions, 17 (1693): 646-647.

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Robert Hooke (1635-1703) was the great pioneer, but he was not alone. There had been a few who attempted what Hooke would famously accomplish, and many others who would follow, expanding and refining what Hooke had done by reading the tracts he left for them. Henry Power published before Hooke, but Power's book has only a few crude woodcuts. William Derham edited some of Hooke's works posthumously, including illustrations never before published. Henry Baker drew precise plans for building microscopes that clearly used Hooke's instrument as their inspiration.


Title page, Henry Power, Experimental philosophy, London, 1664.  Power published before Hooke, but Power's book has only a few crude woodcuts.
Henry Power, Experimental philosophy, in three books : containing new experiments microscopical, mercurial, magnetical ; with some deductions, and probable hypotheses, raised from them, in avouchment and illustration of the now famous atomical hypothesis. London, 1664
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Magnified images of hailstones, published by William Derham in 1726; well after Hooke’s death but based on Hooke’s unpublished drawings.
Robert Hooke, Philosophical experiments and observations of the late eminent Dr. Robert Hooke ... : and other eminent virtuoso's [sic] in his time ; with copper plates publish'd by W. Derham, F.R.S.. London, 1726
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Title page of Henry Baker’s The Microscope Made Easy (1742) which summarized the state of the microscopist’s art. Henry Baker, The microscope made easy : or, I. The nature, uses, and magnifying powers of the best kinds of microscopes described, calculated, and explained : for the instruction of such, particularly, as desire to search into the wonders of the minute creation, tho' they are not acquainted with optics : together with full directions how to prepare, apply, examine, and preserve all sorts of objects, and proper cautions to be observed in viewing them : II. An account of what surprizing discoveries have been already made by the microscope: with useful reflections on them : and also a great variety of new experiments and observations, pointing out many uncommon subjects for the examination of the curious. London, 1742
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