Leeuwenhoek's observations on bacteria, c 1683.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate taken from 'Philosophical Transactions' (1683), a book containing letters written to the Royal Society by the Dutch microscopist Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723). Most of Leeuwenhoek's researches were carried out with the aid of microscopes which he constructed himself. At the age of 16 he was apprenticed to a linen-draper in Amsterdam. He later returned to Delft, where he had been born, bought a house and shop, and set up busines as a draper. He was elected a Fellow to the Royal Society in 1680.