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Published September, 1664, Micrographia was an immediate best-seller. The book details the then twenty-eight year-old Robert Hooke's observations through various lenses. Hooke most famously describes a fly's eye and a plant cell (where he coined that term). Known for its spectacular copperplate engravings of the miniature world, particularly its fold-out plates of insects, the text itself reinforces the tremendous power of the new microscope. The plates of insects fold out to be larger than the large folio itself, the engraving of the louse in particular folding out to four times the size of the book. Although the book is most known for foregrounding the power of the microscope, Micrographia also describes distant planetary bodies, the wave theory of light, and various other philosophical and scientific interests of its author.

Published under the aegis of The Royal Society, the popularity of the book helped further the society's image and mission of being "the" scientifically progressive organization of London. Micrographia also focused attention on the miniature world, capturing the public's imagination in a radically new way. This impact is illustrated by Samuel Pepys' reaction upon completing the tome: "the most ingenious book that I ever read in my life."


  • Robert Hooke. "Micrographia: or, Some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses". London: J. Martyn and J. Allestry, 1665. (first edition).

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Last updated: 05-07-2005 08:38:18
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04