Born in London on March 12, 1838, William Perkin was the youngest of the seven children of George Perkin, a successful carpenter.
At the age of 14, Mr Perkin attended the prestigious City of London School - setting him on a path of scientific discovery.
In 1853, 15-year-old Perkin began working with esteemed German chemist August Wilhelm von Hofmann at the Royal College of Chemistry (now Imperial College London).While carrying out experiments with quinine, a chemical that was first discovered in the bark of certain trees, Mr Perkin had accidentally discovered a way of creating a dye which could be used to colour fabrics.
The discovery was significant as until then fabrics had to be coloured with expensive natural substances that could never be used in large quantities.
The rich purple colour Mr Perkin had stumbled across was adopted by no less than Queen Victoria herself.
Mr Perkin passed away in 1907 after suffering from pneumonia and is buried in Harrow.