Anders Fredrik Regnell was the largest private donor to Uppsala University of his time, but he was born in great poverty by an anonymous servant girl in Stockholm 1807. He spent his first years as a fosterling, but at the age of six, his father brought him to Uppsala, where he was given the opportunity to study.
At the university, he studied botany for a few years, before entering medical school. After graduation and training as a doctor, he moved to Caldas in Brazil, which had a better climate for his weak lungs.
Regnell was regarded as a very skilled doctor and ran a lucrative practice. He invested his profits in plantations and he also became known as the money-lender of the district, lending money at an interest rate of up to 20%. As he was a bachelor without offspring, he soon began to donate his fortune to medical and botanical institutions in Sweden. When he passed away, Regnell’s entire estate went to Uppsala University.
His main interest, however, was botany. From his arrival in Caldas in 1840, and up to his death in 1884, he collected plants. Many botanists visited him and stayed in his house for years. These plants are now exhibited in the Regnell herbarium at the Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. The herbarium holds more than 400 000 specimens and is one of the largest collections of South American plants in the world.
Regnell was considered a peculiar man by those around him and he had few friends. His confidant was Isak Gustaf Clason, a classmate from Uppsala. They never met in person after Regnell left Sweden, but they regularly exchanged letters up to Clason´s death in 1880. These letters were donated to the University library in Uppsala and have been used for this book.
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2011, 700. , 244 p.