Google celebrates Sir William Henry Perkin, the ‘accidental’ inventor of purple dye

Sir Henry Perkins, Mauve, purple dye, Britain, Queen Victoria, British royals, Google Doodle, 12th March 2018
Google celebrates Sir William Henry Perkin, the 'accidental' inventor of purple dye

Google celebrates the 180th birthday of British chemist Sir William Henry Perkin. He was the ‘accidental’ inventor of purple colour, the first synthetic dye.

Born on 12 March 1838, William Henry Perkin’s discovery of ‘mauveine’, the first synthetic dye, was found at the time when the textile industry was at a peak. As an 18-year-old laboratory assistant, Perkins was cleaning out a beaker following a failed experiment when he noticed that the constituents of the beaker left a vivid purple stain when diluted with alcohol.
This gave him the idea and mauveine was invented.

Following his invention, Perkins quickly focused on the patenting, manufacturing and commercialisation of this purple dye. At the time of the invention, purple clothing was in style in Britain, but was expensive and faded away with time.

Thus, the invention of purple dye created quite a stir in the lives of people in those days. Queen Victoria herself wore a mauveine-dyed gown to the Royal Exhibition of 1862, making Perkin’s invention a huge hit.

Having gained wealth and success from his stint in manufacturing, Perkin eventually returned to laboratory research and was later knighted in 1906, on the 50th anniversary of his discovery.
Today’s doodle, by Sonny Ross, a UK-based illustrator, captures the frenzy of the once-exclusive purple clothing in Britain after mauveine was commercialised.

The reach of today’s Doodle is limited to the United States, west coast of South America, the UK and a few other European countries, India, Japan and Indonesia.


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