Title page of Micrographia.

Micrographia is a historically significant book by Robert Hooke about his observations through various lenses. It is particularly notable for being the first book to illustrate insects, plants etc. as seen through microscopes. Published in January 1665, the first major publication of the Royal Society, it became the first scientific best-seller, inspiring a wide public interest in the new science of microscopy. It is also notable for coining the biological term cell.


  • Observations 1
  • Reception 2
  • Methods 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Hooke most famously describes a fossils, and other philosophical and scientific interests of its author.

Hooke also selected several objects of human origin; among these objects were the jagged edge of a honed razor and the point of a needle, seeming blunt under the microscope. His goal may well have been as a way to contrast the flawed products of mankind with the perfection of nature (and hence, in the spirit of the times, of biblical creation).[2]


Published under the aegis of Samuel Pepys called it "the most ingenious book that I ever read in my life."


In 2008,

  • textMicrographiaProject Gutenberg
  • Turning the Pages-virtual copy of the book from the National Library of Medicine
  • Micrographia - full digital facsimile at Linda Hall Library
  • Transcribing the Hooke Folio

External links

  1. ^ "... I could exceedingly plainly perceive it to be all perforated and porous, much like a Honey-comb, but that the pores of it were not regular [..] these pores, or cells, [..] were indeed the first microscopical pores I ever saw, and perhaps, that were ever seen, for I had not met with any Writer or Person, that had made any mention of them before this. . ." – Hooke describing his observations on a thin slice of cork. Robert Hooke
  2. ^ Fara P (June 2009). "A microscopic reality tale". Nature 459 (4 June 2009): 642–644.  
  3. ^ Sample, Ian (8 February 2006). "Eureka! Lost manuscript found in cupboard". http://www.theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 16 January 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Neri, Janice (2008). "Between Observation and Image: Representations of Insects in Robert Hooke's Micrographia". In O'Malley, Therese; Meyers, Amy R. W. The Art of Natural History. National Gallery of Art. pp. 83–107.  
  5. ^ Dennis, Michael Aaron (1989). "Graphic Understanding: Instruments and interpretation in Robert Hooke's Micrographia". Science in Context 3 (2): 309–364.  


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


Hooke also required strategies for ensuring his readers knew these were images of the microscopic realm, an observation at least one observer failed to grasp from images Neri found in the newly discovered notebook. Hooke used both textual and visual reminders. For example: "all of Micrographia's observations contain a phrase such as 'being look'd upon with a Microscope ... by always italicizing the new word 'microscope,' Hooke emphasized the instrument's presence at the scene of disciplined seeing." [5] Additionally: "Hooke often enclosed the objects he presented within a round frame, thus offering viewers an evocation of the experience of looking through the lens of a microscope." [4]

Hooke built up his images from numerous observations made from multiple vantage points, under varying lighting conditions, and with lenses of differing powers. Similarly his specimens required a great deal of manipulation and preparation in order to make them visible through the microscope.