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High Society: Drugs in Victorian Britain

18 January 2011

Victorian Britain: a global Empire and a culture awash with drugs. Opium, morphine, cocaine and cannabis are on sale in every high street pharmacy. Join us for this special event, where we will explore these drug-addled and dissolute times and discover the origins of today’s drug controls.

Symposium at Wellcome Collection
Friday 11 February 2011, 19.00-21.00, and Saturday 12 February 2011, 10.30-17.30

Take a mind-expanding journey as Wellcome Collection brings together experts and performances to explore Victorian drug culture in a special symposium - High Society: Drugs in Victorian Britain. A variety of speakers will uncover stories of Victorian drug use, from the history of addiction as a disease to the depiction and influence of opium and other drugs in literature of the period. Discover the pleasure seekers who give the lie to our sense of Victorian austerity and the scientists and artists who experimented in search of enlightenment.

FRIDAY 11 FEBRUARY: MAGIC LANTERN PERFORMANCE, 19.00-21.00
Immerse yourself in the era at an evening of authentic Victorian entertainment. The evening will include a performance of the marvellous Magic Lantern with piano accompaniment, a complimentary drinks reception so you can get to know your fellow guests and a chance to enjoy the 'High Society' exhibition away from the crowds.

SATURDAY 12 FEBRUARY: TALKS AND DISCUSSIONS, 10.30-17.30
It is the 19th century. The advances of science, combined with unfettered global trade, are making drugs stronger, more available and more dangerous than ever before. Something must be done - but what?

Join experts from the worlds of history, literature and pharmacology to explore the drug-addled Victorian metropolis in a series of fascinating talks. Our speakers include 'High Society' curator and writer Mike Jay; Stuart Anderson, Associate Dean at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and historians Louise Foxcroft and Michael Neve.

Tickets must be booked in advance and cost £30 full price or £20 for concessions for both days. Ticket prices include drinks on Friday evening and lunch, tea and coffee on Saturday.

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