Lodewijk Elzevir

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Title page from Prof. Nicolaes Tulp's book called Observacionum Medicarum, published by Ludovicum Elzevirium, 1641

Lodewijk Elzevir (c. 1540 – 4 February 1617), originally Lodewijk or Louis Elsevier or Elzevier, was a printer, born in the city of Leuven (today in Belgium, then part of the Habsburg Netherlands or Spanish Netherlands). He was the founder of the House of Elzevir, which printed works such as "Two New Sciences", written by Galileo,[1] at a time when his work was suppressed for religious reasons. Although the House of Elzevir ceased publishing in 1712, the modern Dutch Elsevier company was founded in 1880 and took its name from the historic Dutch publishing house.[2]


Elzevir, son of Hans Helschevier, was born in Leuven and started his career as a bookbinder at the printing shop of Christoffel Plantijn in Antwerp. In 1563, he married Maijke de Verdeijen Verbois in Antwerp, where his first two sons were born. He moved to Wesel before 1570, to Douai (before 1575), and settled in Leiden before 1580.

He produced his first book at Leiden in 1583, and the business continued until 1791 under his descendants. The printing house was instrumental in the publication of important work in science. Atypical of other printers of the era, Elzevir books focused on sturdiness rather than elegance and legibility over ornate characters. His books were usually smaller with narrow margins. Christopher van Dyck was one of the type designers. Most of the work was published in Latin.

His oldest son, Matthijs, his sixth son, Bonaventure Elzevir, and his grandsons, Abraham and Isaac Elzevir, continued and expanded the business. The Lodowijk Elzevir who famously met Galileo in Arcetri in 1636 was the grandson of this Lodwijk (1604–1670).[3][4][5]


  1. ^ John Michael Lewis (2006). Galileo in France: French Reactions to the Theories and Trial of Galileo. Peter Lang. p. 59. ISBN 978-0-8204-5768-0.
  2. ^ John J. Regazzi (12 February 2015). Scholarly Communications: A History from Content as King to Content as Kingmaker. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-8108-9088-6.
  3. ^ "Elsevier". Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, Bd. 6. Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. Duncker & Humblot. 1877. p. 62.
  4. ^ Brian Clegg (22 July 2016). A Brief History of Infinity: The Quest to Think the Unthinkable. Little, Brown. ISBN 9781472107640.
  5. ^ Michael Sharratt (22 July 2016). Galileo: Decisive Innovator. CUP. ISBN 9780521566711.

External links[edit]


Literature in archives and libraries and online on archive.org:

Literature in libraries and for sale online:

  • David W. Davies, The World of the Elseviers 1580-1712, (Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1954, 168p)
  • S.L. Hartz, The Elseviers and their Contemporaries, (Elsevier, Amsterdam-Brussels, 1955, 107p)
  • Paul Hoftijzer e.a. (red.), Boekverkopers van Europa - Het 17de-eeuwse Nederlandse uitgevershuis Elzevier, (Walburg pers, Zutphen, 2000, 352p)

Literature in libraries:

  • A.M. Bosters, Enige genealogische gegevens over het West-Brabantse geslacht Elsevier (A.M. Bosters. Voorburg, 2000, 5p)
  • C.E.G. ten Houte de Lange, Stockmans, Stokmans, Elsevier Stokmans, Elzevier Stokmans (Megen) (NIGHO, Zeist, 2006, 48p)