Antonie van Leeuwenhoek Biography
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek is regarded as the âFather of Microbiologyâ and is known for his pioneering works in relation to microorganisms. To know more about his childhood, profile, timeline and career read on
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was a renowned scientist of the seventeenth century whose pioneering research works, laid the founding stone for emergence of microbiology as a stream. Hailed as the âFather of Microbiologyâ this talented biologist chanced upon scientific research by mere coincidence. Antonie was a young entrepreneur, who established his own linen business and in search of a high quality magnifying lens, to be used for inspection of thread used in the linen, ended up devising a new technique of creating lens which can provide magnification up to 500 times. Upon encouragement from friend and physician Graaf, Antonie used the improved design of microscope to make many significant discoveries, which laid the foundation for evolution of microbiology. Beginning with identifying the first bacteria to describing the structure of RBCâs to the detailed study of deadly disease he suffered from; this eminent scientist contributed to scientific advancement even in his death. As more of his works began to get published his repertoire increased exponentially; he was visited by many eminent personalities throughout his lifetime which include the likes of Russian Tsar Peter the Great, German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Prince William III of England. Though this expert lens man shared his findings with the public, he preferred to work alone and kept the technique of making high precision microscope a closely guarded secret until his death. Read on to know more about his works and achievements
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek
Childhood & Early Life
- On October 24, 1632, in the Delft city of Netherlands, this famous microbiologist was born to parents Philips Antonysz van Leeuwenhoek and Margaretha.Antonie and his four elder siblings lost their father at quite an early age and their mother remarried after Philipsâ demise. The young lad went to school for a short while in Leyden but then had to move to his uncleâs place in Benthuizen.At the tender age of sixteen Leeuwenhoek was engaged in a draperâs shop in Amsrterdam where he learnt the ropes of the trade. Eventually he returned to his native city of Delft in the mid-1650s and went on to establish himself as a fabric merchant.
- As the popularity of his linen store increased so did Antonieâs status in the society. He decided to utilize his new found fame to participate in the municipal politics. In 1660, he was granted the title of chamberlain and in this capacity he was in charge of managing the Delft sheriffs' assembly chamber. Later he would hold the positions of surveyor and wine gauger.Leeuwenhoek used magnifying glasses for inspecting the quality of thread in his draper linen but he was not satisfied with the magnification provided by the available lenses. Thus he started making his own lenses and with time and expertise he devised microscopes that are believed to provide magnification of up to 500 times.Armed with these powerful magnifying devices, he started recording his observations of minute creatures such as molds and lice. His friend Reinier de Graaf, who was a physician, encouraged Antonie to pursue his study of minute organisms and even helped establish a correspondence between the Royal Society in London and Leeuwenhoek.Starting in 1673, Antonie began a series of communication with the Royal Society. His first published work included his study of lice, molds and bees.In 1674, he used his hand made microscopes to observe miniscule living objects in various water bodies, human gut. He dubbed these minute living beings as âvery little animalculesâ, and estimated their sizes.This skilled lens man accounted his studies on the male gametes, in 1677. He studied specimens of Spermatozoa in insects, humans and canines.He then made important observations regarding the human eye, striated and non-striated muscle fibers and even studied insects and plant structures and asexual reproduction in aphids.He then studied unicellular organisms, in particular yeast, and made significant observations regarding their composition in 1680. The same year he was granted a fellowship in the Royal Society of London.âPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Societyâ, the journal of Royal Society published most of his works.The very first illustration of bacteria was depicted by Leeuwenhoek and was published in the 1683 edition of âPhilosophical Transactionsâ.The eminent microbiologist also studied plaque formation in the human oral cavity in 1683. It is believed that he made these observations using his own teeth and even his own wife and daughter.In 1684, he studied the works of Marcello Malpighiâs demonstration of the blood capillaries. In continuation to Marcelloâs works, Antonie studied the red blood cells and provided a fairly accurate description.In 1702, while studying rotifers and nematodes he made the observation that microorganisms or the animalcules can be propagated by wind, water and air.Leeuwenhoek continued his microscopic observations throughout his life and by the time of his death he had published more than 500 scientific letters in the Royal Society journal and other scientific publications. He even made observations of the rare and deadly muscular anomaly he was suffering from, which eventually led to his death.
- Though Leewenhoek is sometimes considered as inventor of microscope, it is not the truth. But it cannot be denied that his design of microscope and the observations which followed paved the way for many important discoveries and laid the foundation for emergence of microbiology.
Awards & Achievements
- This eminent scientist is referred to as the âFather of Microbiologyâ and the Royal Society of London honoured his contribution to the scientific world by granting him a fellowship.
Personal Life & Legacy
- Antonie was married to Barbara de Mey in July 1654 and the couple were blessed with five children of whom only one survived.Following the demise of Barbara, Antonie entered the wedlock with Cornelia Swalmius in 1671.This pioneering scientist breathed his last on August 26, 1723 after battling a rare abnormality of the muscles in the midriff region. Since he made extensive observations regarding his illness, the condition has been named as the âVan Leeuwenhoekâs Diseaseâ.Antonieâs original specimens were archived by the Royal Society of London and in 1981 microscopist Brian J. Ford conducted a further study to expand Leeuwenhoekâs original works.
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- Antonie van Leeuwenhoek Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- October 05, 2017
Also Known As: Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek, Anton van Leeuwenhoek
Famous as: Scientist
Birth Date:October 24, 1632
Died At Age: 90
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Born in: Delft
religion: Dutch Reformed Church
Died on:August 26, 1723
place of death: Delft
Credit Jan Verkolje (I) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Pictures of Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek
ePistolarium, CKCC project, Huygens ING, The Hague
Anthonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723)
This Dutch microbiologist, who is known primarily for his work on the microscope, was born in Delft. His father died when he was five and, after a brief education, van Leeuwenhoek was apprenticed to a draper in Amsterdam. He returned to Delft in 1654, where he set up his own business. It was here that he began his work on lens-making. Following an introduction from Reinier de Graaf to The Royal Society in London, Leeuwenhoek corresponded on his findings, in Dutch, for translation and publication in English in the Philosophical Transactions. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1680.
Partners and Additional Contributors
The Circulation of Knowledge project [CKCC] was established in 2008 as a partnership between the Descartes Centre at the University of Utrecht, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (National Library of the Netherlands), the Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Huygens ING), the Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS), and the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The project began by digitizing the metadata and curating existing full-text transcriptions of c.20,000 letters to or from nine prominent intellectuals resident in the seventeenth-century Dutch Republic. In 2013, this material was published as open access in a sophisticated web application — the ePistolarium — which provides scholars with multiple means of exploring and analysing both metadata and full texts across all nine correspondences. As well as conducting full-text searches, mapping and graphing the metadata, and extracting people mentioned, the ePistolarium is capable of interrogating the entire corpus to analyse and visualize co-citation networks, and produces the results of keyword extraction and experimental topic-modelling.
CKCC’s 20,020 records represent the largest single dataset contributed to EMLO during the second phase of Cultures of Knowledge. The re-publication of these records within EMLO marks the inauguration of the rolling incorporation of major new catalogues which will continue into 2015 and beyond. As well as integrating CKCC’s metadata into an expansive union catalogue, EMLO’s records link back to the original letter texts published within the ePistolarium.
The metadata and transcripts for Antoni van Leeuwenhoek’s correspondence were supplied to the ePistolarium by Huygens ING and Utrecht University under the supervision of Lodewijk Palm. EMLO would like to thank Walter Ravenek for his careful preparation of CKCC metadata, Miranda Lewis for her work on the people and place records associated with the correspondence, and Philip Beeley for his help with the preparation of this introductory text.
Key Bibliographic Source(s)
The metadata and texts for the 282 transcriptions published in the ePistolarium were taken from Alle de brieven van Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, ed. L.C. Palm (Amsterdam, 1939–).
Van Leeuwenhoek did not publish his findings and as a result his letters are the main source of information regarding his work. Metadata for the letters, which range from 1673 to 1707, are published in EMLO and each record links to the transcription in the ePistolarium. Written largely in Dutch (92.3%), with a small number in Latin, many of the letters were translated into English and published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.
It should be noted in the dating of this correspondence that the Gregorian calendar has been used throughout.
Alle de brieven van Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, ed. L.C. Palm, 12 vols (Amsterdam, 1939–).
Palm, L.C., ‘Leeuwenhoek, Antoni van (1632–1723)’, in Encyclopedia of the Scientific Revolution. From Copernicus to Newton (2000).
A critical edition of Van Leeuwenhoek’s letters, with a modern translation in English, is in preparation.
For a full bibliography, see the Digitale Bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse letteren.
A replica of Leeuwenhoek’s microscope may be seen at the Science Museum, London.
Please see our citation guidelines for instructions on how to cite this catalogue.