Albrecht Von Haller

By: Ra'Kya Lewis

Birth Years

Born in Bern, Switzerland, in 1708, Albrecht von Haller, as a child prodigy, wrote several metrical translations when he was only fifteen. He studied the form and function of one organ after the other, launching anatomy as an experimental science, and also enforcing dynamic rules to the study of physiology.

Poetry or Nah?

Albrecht Haller was born in Switzerland in 1708. He lived a strange life in what was already an epoch of strange geniuses. Haller's genius was soon apparent. As with many smart people, his terrible need for approval surfaced early and lingered long.

Haller finished medical school at Leiden when he was 19. Then he went back to Bern. He tried to find a professorship in history and rhetoric. He did some lecturing on anatomy. He also walked the mountains writing poetry.

The poetry wasn't great. But Germany had yet to give us great poets. Haller published his book of poems when he was 40. It went through at least nine editions. It was very popular.

The medical school at Göttingen finally gave Haller a position. He stayed there 17 years. It was there he rewrote physiology. He produced his monumental text on the subject. That text was still a major medical source book when your great-grand-parents were in school.


It makes sense only in the light of Haller's inner torment. He craved acceptance in his own town. He was tormented by religious doubts and self-incrimination. He'd left a litter of broken friendships in Germany. Now he did good work in his new post. Then he took charge of a local salt works. That, said one biographer, was a small kingdom which he ruled well.

He kept writing on physiology, but he never went back to the university. He wrote several novels. They were well received.

While Haller was still young -- only 28 -- his first wife, Mariane, had died of a venereal disease. Where did she get it? What did it mean? His poetry pours out his pain. "How can I think of you without weeping," he cries. But in his diary he agonizes over whether she's in Heaven or Hell.

In the end, it is his physiology that soars. And that was simply the greatest part of many accomplishments. I wish I could say that the inventive mind is always a contented mind. It is not, of course. Sometimes it turns on itself. It invents discontent. Haller owned one of the great minds of all time.

Major Contributions to Science

He proceeded with his embryological investigations, already started in Göttingen, and published his major works on the development of the chicken embryo in 1758 and 1767. His opus magnum, the Elementa physiologiae, appeared in eight volumes over a period of ten years (1757–66). Haller presented his views on anatomy and physiology to the wider public in the Yverdon and the supplements to the Paris Encylopédie (1772–77), for which he wrote some 200 articles. A second, considerably revised and enlarged edition of his Swiss flora, was published in 1768. Remote from major centres of academia, he continued to build up his large library with more than 23,000 titles, mostly belonging to the medical, botanical and natural sciences. The last decade of his life Haller devoted to the edition of critically commented bibliographies of botany, anatomy, physiology, surgery and the practice of medicine. In 10 volumes, he presented and discussed some 50,000 works from all branches of medicine. Besides that, he wrote three novels on the principles of government and religious works against the French.
Albrecht von Haller (1708-1777) „Morgen-Gedanken"


"Albrecht Von Haller." Famous Scientists. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.

"No. 658: Albrecht Von Haller." No. 658: Albrecht Von Haller. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2014.

"Biography - Albrecht Von Haller." Albrecht Von Haller RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.