A facsimile reprint of the Verklarend woordenboek van wetenschappelijke plantennamen (Explanatory dictionary of scientific plant names) by C.A. Backer has been published in September, 2000. I have been asked to write an introductory note on the ‘author of this booklet’, as Backer called himself under the lemma ‘backeri’, with some of the backgrounds of the author and the origin of this monumental and unsurpassed work, of which a somewhat emended translation is given here. The following story is based on some biographies of Backer that have appeared after his death in 1963 (see References), especially that by Reinier Cornelis Bakhuizen van den Brink f. (1911-1987) and Cornelis Gijsbert Gerrit Jan van Steenis (1901-1986), but especially on the correspondence in the archives of the National Herbarium of the Netherlands, Leiden University branch, on a number of speeches kept by Backer himself, and some contemporary papers. In the necrologies written by friends and sympathizers Backer has more or less been praised up to high heaven under the slogan: ‘De mortuis nil nisi bonum’ (‘Let nothing be said of the death but what is favourable’). Nevertheless, casual remarks are made about Backer’s less pleasant qualities so that it must be feared that these have been somewhat higher than may appear from the following.