Curious about Sir William Henry Perkin? Here’s everything you need to know about the man chosen to be a Google Doodle on March 12.
1.) Sir William Henry Perkin was a British chemist who accidentally discovered the first aniline dye. Believe it or not, he was only 18 years old when he made the discovery! Once he set up a factory to produce and distribute the dye industrially he essentially revolutionized the entire fabric and fashion industry. William’s discovery was made during Easter vacation in 1856 when he was using his professor’s laboratory to do some experimenting. It was there he discovered that aniline could be partly transformed into a crude mixture, then extracted with alcohol to produce a substance with a strong purple color.
2.) He was chosen as the Google Doodle on March 12 because it’s his birthday! Sir William was born on March 12, 1838 and he died at 69 years old on July 14, 1907. He was the youngest of seven children to an East End of London family. His father was a successful carpenter while his mother was of Scottish descent. William was baptized at St. Paul’s in Shadwell, which was allegedly connected to Thomas Jefferson‘s mom, Jane Randolph Jefferson. Small world, huh?
3.) It was at age 14 that William realized he wanted to study chemistry. When William began attending the City School of London, he was taught by Thomas Hall. Thomas fostered William’s specific eye for talent in the chemistry genre, then encouraged him to pursue the subject as a career.
4.) Sadly, William died of pneumonia. As previously mentioned he was only 69 years old when a bout of pneumonia mixed with a burst appendix took William out. Over the course of his life he was married twice, first to a woman named Jemima Harriet with who he had two sons, William Henry Perkin Jr., and Arthur George Perkin. In 1866 William married a second woman, Alexandrine Caroline, which resulted in four children — three more boys and one little girl!
5.) Sir William was a heavily decorated chemist. Over the course of his short life span, the chemist was honored by Fellow of the Royal Society club! In 1879 they received a royal medal.