Micrographia (1665)

1st illustration of microfungi and the 1st account of the internal structure of mushrooms
Figure 12 Microfungi [woodcut]

Hooke, Robert, 1635-1703.
Micrographia: or some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasse: with observations and inquiries thereupon.

[London : Printed by Jo.Martyn, and Ja.Allestry, M DC LX V (1665).]

Image Courtesy of the Economic Botany Library of Oakes Ames


Robert Hooke (1635-1703) was born on 18 July 1635, at Freshwater, on the Isle of Wight. He was the son of a churchman and was apparently largely educated at home by his father. He entered Westminster School at the age of thirteen, and from there went to Oxford. Hooke was soon asked to serve as an assistant to the chemist Robert Boyle and, in 1662, he was named Curator of Experiments of the newly formed Royal Society of London.

Hooke's reputation in the history of biology largely rests on his book Micrographia, published in 1665. Hooke devised the compound microscope and illumination system, and with it he observed diverse organisms and gave the first account of the internal structure of mushrooms. Micrographia was an accurate and detailed record of his observations, illustrated with clear and detailed wood block illustrations.

Hooke later became Gresham Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, London, where he lived for the rest of his life. His health deteriorated over the last decade of his life, and he passed away in London on 3 March 1703.