Other publications

Prior to 1800, excerpts, summaries, and quotations from Leeuwenhoek's letters were published by others in Dutch and in English, French, and Latin translations, often re-translated from the English or Latin translation in Philosophical Transactions of the Dutch manuscript. The parts devoted to Leeuwenhoek range from word-for-word re-printings to brief quotations or summaries within a broader discussion that could hardly be called an edition of the letter.

The three English-language publications on the table below contain letters that Leeuwenhoek sent to officers and members of the Royal Society. The same is true for seven of the eight letters in Boekzaal van Europe. For the others, it is doubtful that any of the publishers got permission from Leeuwenhoek to publish his work. Nor did he receive any payment if they profited.

Compared to Leeuwenhoek's self-published letters, which have the complete text and all of the figures, almost all of the articles and chapters in these edited journals and books were extracts and summaries, usually omitting the figures but not always the discussion of them.

These edited publications were devoted mostly to Leeuwenhoek's early work. The editors seemed most interested in sperm and the little animals.

Several of the journals were printed in Amsterdam from fear of censorship in France.

On the table below, they are arranged chronologically in the order in which they began publishing Leeuwenhoek's work. Most of the information comes from Alle de Brieven / Collected Letters, so it would not be surprising to find other publications prior to 1800 that should be on this list.

Summary of Leeuwenhoek's work in edited publications

Title Language Issues or editions with L's letters published in ... # of letters Written from ... # of figures
Philosophical Transactions English 1673 - 1723  122 1673-04-28 to 1723-08-00  604
Journal des Sçavans French 1675 - 1683 9 1674-04-07 to 1682-04-04  none of 10
Lectures and collections: Cometa, Microscopium English 1678  2 1677-10-05 and 1678-01-14  none
Recueil d'experiences et observations French 1679 5  1674-04-07 to 1678-01-14  5? of 6
Philosophical Collections English 1681 - 1682  5 1679-04-25 to 1682-04-04 18 of 19
Acta eruditorum Latin 1682 - 1689 13 1680-11-12 to 1687-11-28  36 of 116
Nouvelles de la republique des lettres Latin 1683 2 1683-01-22 and 1683-07-16 1 of 12
Journal de médecine French 1683 2 1677-05-14 and 1682-0303 4 of 7
Bibliothèque universelle et historique French 1687 - 1688 16 1679-04-25 to 1688-09-07  36 of 136
De Boekzaal van Europe Dutch 1693 - 1697 8 1693-10-27 to 1697-04-05  none
Anatomes publicae Dutch 1709 1 1679-04-25 none of 1
Historia naturalis et medica latorum lumbricorum Latin 1715  4 1677-11-00 to 1694-01-24 6 of 15
after Leeuwenhoek's death
Genees-kundig Verhaal van de algemeene in zwang gegaan hebbende Loop-ziekte Dutch 1745 9 1681-11-04 to 1702-02-09 none of 57
L’Histoire Naturelle Latin 1749 7 1677-11 to 1716-11-21 ?
Collection académique French 1755 - 1766 27 1673-04-28 to 1686-04-02 27 of 132
Genees- en heelkundige proeven en aanmerkingen Dutch 1775 4 1674-04-07 to 1674-09-07 6 of 6
Abhandlungen zur Naturgeschichte, Physik und Oekonomie Latin 1779 - 1780  19  1673-04-28 to 1684-04-14  35 of ?

Beginnings of the secondary literature about Leeuwenhoek

Other than Robert Hooke, the first person to write extensively about Leeuwenhoek was Nicholas Hartsoeker in Essay de Dioptrique in 1694  and especially in  Extrait Critique. Published in 1730 after the deaths of both men, it showed the quarrelsome side of Hartsoeker's personality. It did not quote or summarize Leeuwenhoek's letters directly, so the editors of Alle de Brieven / Collected Letters did not include it in their "Published in" section of any letters.

They did, however, include two other pre-1800 publications.

Buffon's Histoire naturelle of 1749 was first published a couple of decades after Leeuwenhoek's death and it has only long quotations from half a dozen letters in the context of Buffon's chapter comparing his observations to Leeuwenhoek's. It is interesting because it shows Leeuwenhoek's influence. Buffon could not properly treat the topics of generation and reproduction without discussing the accuracy of Leeuwenhoek's observations and the truth of his interpretations. Remember that even that late, the homunculus theory was still credible.

Hoole's well-intended two-part translation and rearrangement of extracts from 79 of the 183 letters written between 1680 and 1702 is also noted in Alle de Brieven / Collected Letters.

If you know of any other publications that should be on the table above, please contact me.