Science

Google honours British chemist Perkin with sketch doodle on his 180th birthday

Google honours British chemist Perkin with sketch doodle on his 180th birthday

The Doodle shows Sir William Henry Perkin with a bottle of the purple dye on the right of the Doodle, as the letters of the word Google flow through what appear to be men and women from the 19th century wearing clothes dyed in the colour. Born in London's East End on March 12, 1838, Perkin is credited with discovering synthetic dye at a young age of 18.

Perkin was trying to find a substitute for quinine which was the only feasible medical treatment for malaria in 1856 because the demand for it was exceeding the supply. Perkin noticed that the substance left a purple stain when diluted with alcohol increasing his curiosity.

Upon discovering the purple-tinted dye, Perkin worked to get the dye he named "mauveine" patented, manufactured and commercialized.

"Perkin's timing was remarkable as the textile industry was at a high", explains Google Doodle. Today marks the 180th birthday of Sir Willian Henry Perkin and apart from mauveine, he is also known for aniline dye and Perkin triangle. "Purple clothing was very much in style, but prohibitively expensive for most, not to mention quick to fade".

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 decades dedicated to manufacturing and working on dyes, Perkin went back to research after he sold his factory in 1874.

Queen Victoria herself wore a mauveine-dyed gown to the Royal Exhibition of 1862, making Perkin's invention a huge hit.

Happy 180th birthday, Sir William Henry Perkin!

A 1906 painting of Perkin by Sir Arthur Stockdale Cope hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. He died at the age of 69 due to pneumonia and other complications resulting from a burst appendix.


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