The Chelsea Network and White Drug Use in the 1930s
This chapter examines the appearance and characteristics of a white drug culture in the early 1930s. Basing the analysis on the case of Brenda Dean Paul and the network around her, it traces the consolidation of this subculture from upper-class bohemia. The erosion of the aristocracy’s social and political power created new cultural spaces for elite youth, who enjoyed transnational links with other metropolitan centres and their bohemias and modernisms: London, Paris, Berlin, New York and so on. Several of those at the centre of the ‘bright young people’ crossed over into an emerging opiate subculture, embracing pleasure and sexual experimentation and rejecting a form of Englishness that represented to them the repression of these categories. The chapter explores this new set, its subcultural spaces, its relations to doctors and treatments and its frequent arrests and court cases.