The color "purple" and its sibling "violet" play a large role in the visual panoply of Ulysses (17 and 19 mentions respectively). The presence of a third near-synonym, "mauve" (12 mentions), points to the scientific discovery responsible for making these colors so popular in the second half of the 19th century: the laboratory synthesis of the first aniline dye. This chemically reproducible color revolutionized fashion and other aspects of Victorian design, studding cityscapes full of brown and grey woolen threads with accents of spectacular, luxurious richness. (Today, mauve sometimes refers to duller hues, but it originally denoted a deep, strong, brilliant purple.) Among other interesting associations in the novel, Joyce attaches this color to the face of Bloom's dead son, Rudy.

JH 2021

Oil portrait of William Henry Perkin shown holding his laboratory-derived color, long after the discovery. Source:

Piece of silk dyed by Sir William Henry Perkin in 1860. Source:

Google doodle honoring Sir William Perkin on the 180th anniversary of his 12 March 1838 birthday. Source:

6d postage stamp with Queen Victoria's image printed with Perkin's mauve from 1867 to 1880. Source:

1 1/4 schilling violet stamps from the Free City of Hamburg issued on 27 June 1866. Source:

Shawl colored with Perkin's mauve dye that was shown at the International Exhibition of 1862. Source:

A Victorian mauveine dyed silk dress held in the Science Museum, London. Source: