The Perkin Legacy

It was in the year 1856 that William Henry Perkin, a true innovator of his day, discovered a colour that changed the world. At 18 years of age, it was his failed attempt to synthesise quinine from aniline that led to the invention of the first synthetic dye (mauveine). Perkin’s recognition of the potential of mauve as a dye, coupled with his iron determination to commercialise it, was the spark that launched the modern synthetic chemical industry. Nowadays, Perkin is commemorated in a number of ways by several bodies involved in the chemical industry, including the Society with its Perkin House headquarters and its prestigious Perkin Medal.

Perkin Celebrations: 150 Years of Colour (14-Mar-06)

150 years ago, William Henry Perkin, a true innovator of his day, invented a colour that changed the world. At 18, it was his failed attempt in 1856 to synthesise quinine from aniline that led to the invention of the first synthetic dye (mauve). (More)

William Henry Perkin: 1838-1907 (04-Apr-06)

Featuring the early years and achievements of William Henry Perkin and his discovery and development of mauveine. (More)

Perkin: The Birth of the Chemical Industry (26-May-06)

A talk presented by Simon Campbell at the SDC Day of Celebration, 28 April 2006, which outlined the true impact on today’s chemical industry. (More)

Perkin’s Mauve: the History of the Chemistry (26-May-06)

This article details the chemistry behind Perkin’s discovery in 1856 and the long search for the structure of mauveine, which was only fully elucidated just over 10 years ago. Andrew Filarowski, the SDC technical officer, explains further. (More)

Perkin’s Mauve: 150 Years of Colour (30-May-06)

Guest speaker at the 2006 SDC Day of Celebration Simon Garfield, an expert on Perkin and his discovery and author of the book Mauve, gave an entertaining look at how Perkin might have viewed the world today. (More)

Dyeing to Fish – the Story of the Perkin Fly (17-Aug-06)

David Young, the great grandson of Sir William Henry Perkin, tells the story of the family connection which inspired a new salmon fly. (More)

Sir William Henry Perkin: A Review of his life, work and legacy (10-Oct-06)

The life, work and legacy of Sir William Henry Perkin are reviewed in the light of his early chemical education, his training in coal tar chemistry with Hofmann, and his discovery, patenting and manufacture of mauveine. (More)

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