Perkin, Sir William Henry (1838-1907)

Sir William Henry Perkin, 1838-1907. Sir William Henry Perkin, 1838-1907.

Sir William Henry Perkin was an English chemist who accidentally discovered the first aniline dye. Perkin was born in London and as a teenager studied chemistry under August Wilhelm von Hofmann (1818-1892), who was working on synthesising quinine as a treatment for malaria.

Perkin was conducting some private experiments when he accidently combined some aniline (extracted from coal tar) with alcohol to develop into a fast, intense purple colour. Perkin filed for a patent in August 1856, when he was eighteen years old. He then started producing the dye commercially under the name mauveine. It soon became very popular and was rapidly followed by a range of aniline dyes in a range of different colours that were produced throughout Europe and later in many other parts of the world.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 17th June 2016).


Last modified on Monday, 01 May 2017 14:54