Sir William Henry Perkin, English chemist, 1907.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Perkin portrayed on the Perkin medal. In 1856, whilst attempting to synthesise quinine for the treatment of malaria, Perkin (1838-1907) managed to extract a brilliant purple dye, subsequently named mauveine. His manufacture of this and other aniline dyes was a great commercial succes and he went on to create the modern synthetic dyestuffs industry and introduce a new range of colours into human life. He was elected to the Royal Society in 1866 and knighted in 1906.