Barbara Hodgson is the author of The Tattooed Map, The Sensualist, and The Rat: A Perverse Miscellany and is coauthor with Karen Elizabeth Gordon and Nick Bantock of Paris Out of Hand.

Opium--a drug that induces euphoria, banishes pain and stimulates creativity--is also a one-way ticket to slavish dependency. Its long, bizarre and shocking history began in ancient times; by the 1870s, opium was an ingredient in many popular patent medicines touted as cures for every ill. At the same time, the vice of smoking opium was regarded as an embodiment of the romantic East, embraced with interest by writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Graham Green and Jean Cocteau.

Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon is a cultural history that explores the 19th-century's decadent world of opium smoking with accounts from memoirs, fiction and films. The many rare images feature opium dens around the world, opium-smoking apparatus, portraits, sensationalized movie stills and the covers of lurid pulp-fiction novels.

You can order the book here

Published in the U.S. by Chronicle Books / Published in Canada by Greystone Books / Published in Australia by Hardie Grant Books

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  1999/2000, All Rights Reserved
Images and text copyright 1999 by Barbara Hodgson