Born in 1842 in a family of medical professors, Retzius was himself appointed professor in histology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm 1877. His research in anatomy and anthropology resulted in several big theses on human cranies, brain anatomy, hearing organs in the animal series, and anatomy of the retina. He acquired the famous newspaper Aftonbladet, founded by the father of his wife Anna Hierta. As editor he was initially liberal and when Strindberg was accused of indecency, he defended him. Later on he became reactionary and as a member of the Swedish Academy he fought against the modern currents in literature and art. He was a generous donor to the academics and societies to which he belonged. He wrote poetry of rather dubious quality. He was estimated in the scientific societies but was often ridiculed in newspapers and magazines.