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, Leuven — 4 February 1617, Leiden), 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, for example, the work of Galileo, 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.

Biography[edit]

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 under his descendants the business continued until 1791. 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 and his sixth son Bonaventure Elzevir and his grandsons Abraham and Isaac Elzevir continued and expanded the business.

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