Synopses & Reviews
As entertaining as it is enlightening, Dope Girls vividly records the scandals and moral panics in Britain that followed the end of the First World War, as drug use—especially of morphine and cocaine—was transformed into a national menace. The cast of characters includes Billie Carleton, a West End musical actress, whose highly publicized death from an overdose in 1918 fueled public anxiety; Brilliant Chang, a Chinese restaurant proprietor; and Edgar Manning, a jazz drummer from Jamaica—identified as the villains of the affair and invested with a highly charged sexual menace. Around them swirled a raffish group of seedy and rebellious hedonists. Britain was horrified and enthralled—the drug problem was born, amid a gush of exotic tabloid detail. A cult classic in Britain, Dope Girls remains both timely and instructive.