Antoni van Leeuwenhoek

Master of the Minuscule

In Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, Master of the Minuscule, the Father of Microbiology is presented in the context of his time, relationships and the Dutch Golden Age. Although he lacked an academic education, he dedicated his life to investigating the microscopic world using handmade, single-lensed microscopes and magnifiers. An expert observer, he planned experiments and designed equipment to test his theories. His pioneering discoveries included blood cells, protozoa, bacteria and spermatozoa, and resulted in an international reputation among the scientific and upper classes of 17th and 18th century Europe, aided by his Fellowship of the Royal Society of London.

This lavishly illustrated biography sets his legacy of scientific achievements against the ideas and reactions of his fellow scientists and other contemporaries.

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Jantien Backer is a chemical engineer and works as a modeller at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, where she studies the transmission of infectious diseases using genetic information of pathogens.

Claud Biemans is a physical chemist, independent editor and science journalist based in Amsterdam.

Joop van Doorn is Manager Seed Technology with Enza Zaden, and responsible for vegetable seed health microbiology. He is vice president of the Board of the Royal Netherlands Society for Microbiology (KNVM).

Klaas Krab is a biochemist. Until his retirement in 2015 he worked as an Associate Professor at the Free University of Amsterdam in a systems biology department with a strong microbiological component

Lesley Robertson worked until 2015 at Delft University of Technology on biological sulphur and nitrogen removal from wastewater and as Biological Safety Officer. She curates the Delft School of Microbiology Archives and researches the use of (facsimile) van Leeuwenhoek microscopes.

Willem Reijnders is Biological Safety Officer at the Free University of Amsterdam.

Henk Smit worked on the production of oils and fats by microorganisms and plants and later as executive officer with various companies in the foodstuffs industry. He and his daughter now run a care farm for patients suffering from dementia.

Peter Willemsen is a microbiological researcher and project head at the Central Veterinary Institute in Lelystad. His research involves diverse subjects including infectious diseases and (animal) health issues. These are an inspiration for his writings on popular microbiology.
"Antoni van Leeuwenhoek: Master of the Minuscule presents an engaging and copiously illustrated biography in a format which should suit a wide audience and age range. It's the English edition of the biography first published in Dutch by Veen Media in 2014 entitled Van Leeuwenhoek, groots in het kleine. [...] The authors have found a good balance for the level of depth presented without becoming a dry read. [...] The style chosen doesn't use either in-text numbered references or footnotes and presents a more inviting read than the sometimes dense appearance of a heavily annotated monograph. [...] The reproduction of the illustrations is to a high standard, presented on bright white paper and incorporated into the body of the text rather than as separate plates. Together with an attractive hardback cover it is a book that is inviting to read. [...] The authors successfully present imagery (including darkfield) which provides an insight into the sort of views Van Leeuwenhoek may have seen, rather than use modern microscopes and techniques. [...] I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and deserves a wide audience for those wishing to learn more of Van Leeuwenhoek's life and work." – David Walker in the June 2016 edition of Micscape (the online monthly magazine of the Microscopy UK web site at The full review can be read here.
1 The Early Years
2 Return to Delft
3 Antoni’s First Brush with Science
4 Van Leeuwenhoek’s Microscopes
5 Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and His Microorganisms
6 The Discovery of the “Semine genitali Animalculis” or Spermatozoa
7 Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and the Question of Generation
8 The Circulation of Blood
9 Secrets of Nature
10 The Famous Van Leeuwenhoek
11 The End of a Long Life
12 The Scientific Legacy of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek
All interested in Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and his discoveries, the history of microbiology and microscopy, the Golden Age in The Netherlands, and the interactions between scientists of the time.
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