Robert Hooke, F.R.S. (1635–1703)

Hooke Laboratories is named after Robert Hooke, F.R.S. (1635-1703), the world's first professional scientist and discoverer of the biological cell.

Micrographia title page

Robert Hooke is best remembered today as the author of Micrographia (London, 1665), the first publication of observations and experiments made using a microscope, and for Hooke's Law of Elasticity. However, Hooke was passionately interested in all branches of science, as well as architecture, mechanics, and measurement.

Flea detail

In his early years, Hooke was best known as an instrument maker par excellence – he was employed by Robert Boyle to construct his “Pneumatical Engine” (vacuum pump), and built the first Gregorian telescope for James Gregory.

Hooke was an early Fellow of the (British) Royal Society, and served as its first Curator of Experiments, performing three to four major experiments each week to be reported to the Society. Later, he served as Secretary to the Royal Society.

In addition to his scientific pursuits, Hooke somehow found time to act as Surveyor of the City of London, laying out the rebuilding after the Great Fire, and as a partner in Christopher Wren's architectural firm. Among Hooke's designs are the Royal College of Physicians, Bethlem Hospital (Bedlam), and the Monument of London – today still the tallest isolated stone column in the world, Hooke designed it to double as an astronomical instrument, with a hole running through the 202 foot height of the building, leading to a basement observatory.

Monument interior

Hooke's scientific accomplishments include:


Some of Hooke's inventions:

Selected online references

Project Gutenberg version of Micrographia
Robert Hooke – The Galileo Project
Robert Hooke – Wikipedia
Robert Hooke bio –
Robert Hooke bio – University of St. Andrews (Scotland)
Robert Hooke bio – NNDB
Biographical Timeline

Selected books

The Forgotten Genius: Biography of Robert Hooke 1635-1703 (Stephen Inwood, MacAdam/Cage, 2005)
Micrographia: Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies (Robert Hooke, 1665, reprinted by BiblioBazaar 2007)
England's Leonardo: Robert Hooke and the Seventeenth-Century Scientific Revolution (Allan Chapman, Taylor & Francis, 2004)
The Curious Life of Robert Hooke: The Man Who Measured London (Lisa Jardine, HarperCollins, 2004)