Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was a Dutch scientist/trader who is best known for his improvement of the microscope and for his contributions towards the establishment of microbiology.

Early life

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was born on October 24, 1632 in Delft, The Netherlands. His father was a basket-maker, while his mother’s family were brewers. He lived with his uncle at Benthuizen after attending school in Warmond.


Antonie never received any formal education. It is known that some time before 1668, Antonie learned to grind lenses.


Following 1668, Antonie made simple microscopes and began observing. Microscopes existed about a century before Antonie was born, but it was his grinding skills, together with his great care in adjusting the lighting where he worked, that enabled him to build microscopes that magnified over 200 times, with incredibly clear picture. This along with his curiosity to observe just about anything that distinguished him from his colleagues. Even though he himself could not draw well, he hired an illustrator to prepare drawings of the things he saw, to accompany his written descriptions. Most of the microorganisms that he observed and described are instantly recognizable. His observations and enhanced microscopes brought him world wide fame.

Later life

Antonie was driven with curiosity and research until he died on August 30, 1723.

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek quotes

“Whenever I found out anything remarkable, I have thought it my duty to put down my discovery on paper, so that all ingenious people might be informed thereof.”

“In the year of 1657 I discovered very small living creatures in rain water.”

“My work, which I’ve done for a long time, was not pursued in order to gain the praise I now enjoy, but chiefly from a craving after knowledge, which I notice resides in me more than in most other men.”

“A man has always to be busy with his thoughts if anything is to be accomplished.”

“I’ve spent more time than many will believe [making microscopic observations], but I’ve done them with joy, and I’ve taken no notice those who have said why take so much trouble and what good is it?”

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