I was a Dutch shopkeeper and maker of lenses who was the first to see living cells up close and personal. A British scientist, Robert Hooke, had discovered cells, observing dead cork tissue though a rudimentary microscope. (He named them cells because they reminded him of the cells in a monastery where monks went to sleep!)

I didn’t have a scientific background, but I was so inspired by Hooke’s work, that I started to use my experience with lenses to build more powerful microscopes. As a result, I was the first to see and describe bacteria, plant cells and even the structure of human blood, skin, teeth and hair cells.
It wasn’t for a long time that cells were understood to be the basic building blocks of all living things, but I was an early thinker on the subject of cell theory.