Discover Robert Hooke's Micrographia restaura with Dr Jane Lomax-Smith

Flea repair Robert Hooke's Micrographia restaura

In 1665, Dr Robert Hooke, the Royal Society’s Curator of Experiments, published Micrographia; or Some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses… 

One of the most important scientific texts of its time, it essentially initiated the field of microscopy. By the early 1700s copies had become rare and expensive to obtain. This prompted a somewhat condensed and more popular second edition in 1745 - a copy of which Rare Books and Special Collections is privileged to hold.

Entitled Micrographia restaurata: or, The copper-plates of Dr Hooke's wonderful discoveries by the microscope, reprinted and fully explained..., the 33 magnificent plates are fortunately complete in the Library copy.

Hooke’s microscopy made visible what was invisible to the naked eye. His “flea” and “louse” alone must have shocked readers who were seeing insects in this way for the first time. The book also included Hooke’s experiments and ideas on a wide range of topics including the nature of light where he conflicted with Isaac Newton with whom there was personal antagonism and claims of priority in discoveries.

The condition of the Library copy had deteriorated through heavy use over time. It has now been professionally restored under the Friends of the Library Adopt-a-Book program. The restoration was generously sponsored by Dr Jane Lomax-Smith in October 2020. The book will be on display at this event.

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