William Henry Perkin
The man who invented synthetic dyes
Perkin quickly grasped that his purple solution could be used to colorfabric, thus making it the world’s first synthetic dye. Realising theimportance of this breakthrough, he lost no time in patenting it. But perhapsthe most fascinating of all Perkin’s reactions to his find was his nearlyinstant recognition that the new dye had commercial possibilities.
Perkin originally named his dye Tyrian Purple, but it later becamecommonly known as mauve (from the French for the plant used to make the colorviolet). He asked advice of Scottish dye works owner Robert Pullar, who assuredhim that manufacturing the dye would be well worth it if the color remainedfast (i.e. would not fade) and the cost was relatively low. So, over the fierceobjections of his mentor Hofmann, he left college to give birth to the modernchemical industry.
With the help of his father and brother, Perkin set up a factory not farfrom London. Utilising the cheap and plentiful coal tar that was an almostunlimited byproduct of London’s gas street lighting, the dye works beganproducing the world’s first synthetically dyed material in 1857. The companyreceived a commercial boost from the Empress Eugenie of France, when shedecided the new color flattered her. Very soon, mauve was the necessary shadefor all the fashionable ladies in that country. Not to be outdone, England’sQueen Victoria also appeared in public wearing a mauve gown, thus making it allthe rage in England as well. The dye was bold and fast, and the publicclamoured for more. Perkin went back to the drawing board.
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 8-13 on your answer sheet.
1 Before Perkin’s discovery, with what group in society was the colorpurple associated?
2 What potential did Perkin immediately understand that his new dye had?
3 What was the name finally used to refer to the first color Perkininvented?