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The Colour Purple

How a young experimenter, William Perkin brought the colour purple to the people in Victorian London, leading to more than just colourful crinolines.

In 1856, a teenager experimenting at home accidentally made a colour that was more gaudy and garish than anything that had gone before. William Perkin was messing about at home, trying to make the anti-malarial Quinine - but his experiment went wrong. Instead he made a purple dye that took Victorian London by storm. Philip Ball tells the story of this famous stroke of serendipity. Laurence Llewelyn- Bowen describes the fashion sensation that ensued and chemist, Andrea Sella tells how Perkin's purple prompted the creation of much more than colourful crinolines.

(Photo: William Henry Perkin (1838-1907), British chemist. Credit: Science Photo Library)

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27 minutes

Last on

Tue 28 Jul 2015 12:32GMT

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