Bottle of opium tincture or laudanum


Opium tincture or laundanum was widely used in the 19th century as a pain killer or sleeping aid; it was highly addictive, leading to many of its users forming a drug addiction.

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Bottle of opium tincture or laudanum
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Representations of drugs in 19th-century literature

Article by:
Sharon Ruston
Romanticism, Fin de siècle, Technology and science

Opium was widely available in the 19th century, sold by barbers, tobacconists and stationers. Writers including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Charles Dickens all used the drug, for pleasure or as medicine. Professor Sharon Ruston explores how drugs provided both inspiration and subject matter for the literature of the period.

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