In 1856, William Henry Perkin, then 18, was given a challenge by his professor to synthesize quinine. His professor, August Wilhelm von Hofmann, was the first director of the Royal College of Chemistry in London.
The dye turned out to be suitable for silk and other textiles. It was patented by Perkin, who the next year opened a dyeworks mass-producing it at Greenford on the banks of the Grand Union Canal in London.
It was originally called aniline purple or Tyrian purple, the name of an ancient natural dye got from a mollusc. In 1859, the colour got the name mauve in England from the French name for the mallow flower, and chemists later called it mauveine. By 1870, the huge demand dropped when other colours were launched in the synthetic dye industry. Mauvine was the first of many.
The structure of mauveine was not fully identified until 1994.
- Hubner K (2006). "History – 150 Years of mauveine". Chemie in unserer Zeit. 40 (4): 274–275. doi:10.1002/ciuz.200690054.
- Anthony S. Travis (1990). "Perkin's Mauve: ancestor of the organic chemical industry". Technology and Culture. 31 (1): 51–82. doi:10.2307/3105760. JSTOR 3105760.
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- Matthew, H.C.G.; Brian Howard Harrison (2004). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-861393-8.
- O. Meth-Cohn & M. Smith 1994. What did W.H. Perkin actually make when he oxidised aniline to obtain mauveine? J. Chem. Soc. Perkin Transactions. 1, 5–7. doi:10.1039/P19940000005.