1856. Eighteen-year-old chemistry student William Perkin's experiment has gone horribly wrong. But the deep brown sludge his botched project has produced has an unexpected power: the power to dye everything it touches a brilliant purple. Perkin has discovered mauve, the world's first synthetic dye, bridging a gap between pure chemistry and industry which will change the world forever.
From the fetching ribbons tying back the hair of every fashionable head in London to the laboratories in which scientists developed modern vaccines against cancer and malaria, Simon Garfield tells the story of how the colour purple became a sensation.
"A book about science which also happens to be a miniature work of art" (Daily Telegraph)
"Intriguing and elegant" (Guardian)
"Thoroughly researched and beautifully written" (New Scientist)
"By bringing Perkin into the open and documenting his life and work, Garfield has done a service to history" (Chicago Tribune)
"Simon Garfield's history of the synthetic dye industry mixes chemistry and social history into quite a colourful tale" (Observer)
"A one-man Blue Peter team for intelligent adults, a great British explainer" (Observer)
"Witty, erudite and entertaining" (Esquire)
"Garfield has a talent for being sparked to life by esoteric enthusiasm and charming readers with his delight" (The Times)
"A sort of museum between hard covers . . . as good as pop history gets" (Sunday Express)
"Simon Garfield has made his name as an author who can spin fascinating narratives out of subjects that seem, on the face of it, narrow to the point of being dull" (Financial Times)