Who is Sir William Henry Perkin?

Who is Sir William Henry Perkin?

He was quick to recognise the commercial possibility of the dye, originally named as Tyrian Purple. Born in England on March 12th, 1838, William Henry Perkin accidentally discovered "mauveine", the first synthetic dye. It would be his 180th birthday today.

Over a century after his death, Google is remembering the entrepreneur and chemist who went on to set up a factory for industrially manufacture synthetic dyes.

The English scientist was working as a lab assistant when he noticed a purple stain at the bottom of a beaker following a failed experiment.

While attempting to produce quinine - a drug used to treat malaria, and found in tonic water - Sir William Henry Perkin instead created a "bluish substance with excellent dyeing properties" that later became what is known as aniline purple, or mauve.

Hence the people wearing purple in the Google Doodle, a color too expensive for most people to wear, he made accessible to nearly all.

"Perkin's timing was remarkable as the textile industry was at a high", explains Google Doodle.

Until the mid-1800s, purple clothing was hard to come by and restricted only to those who could afford the expensive fabrics.

Sonny Ross, a UK-based illustrator who drew today's Doodle tries to capture the frenzy of the once-exclusive purple clothing in Britain after mauveine was commercialised.

After making relative riches from manufacturing, Sir William Henry Perkin turn to researching and studying chemical processes and was knighted in 1906, 50 years after his accidental discovery.

The rich purple colour Mr Perkin had stumbled across was adopted by no less than Queen Victoria herself.

In 1856, Perkin carried out a series of experiments to manufacture quinine from aniline, an low-priced and readily available coal tar waste product, working in his makeshift laboratory at his home.