Hello! If you've come to this page looking for current Wellcome Collection information, please return to wellcomecollection.org where you can find our latest exhibitions, events, stories and more. 

High Society

Mind altering drugs in history and culture

Mike Jay


Order online
Price £9.95

Designed to accompany the exhibition of the same name, 'High Society: Mind altering drugs in history and culture' explores the spectrum of mind-altering substances across the globe and throughout history. Beautifully illustrated with rarely seen material, this striking, lyrical and rigorously researched book puts its controversial subject into the widest possible context.

Acclaimed cultural historian Mike Jay, one of the curators of the 'High Society' exhibition, paints vivid portraits of the roles that drugs play as medicines, religious sacraments, status symbols and coveted trade goods. He traces the understanding of intoxicants from the botanicals of the classical world through the mind-bending self-experiments of early scientists to the present 'war on drugs', and reveals how the international trade in substances such as tobacco, tea and opium shaped the modern world.

Praise for High Society

“Fascinating and highly recommended.”
Psychedelic Press
“Straightforward and engaging storytelling...deserves high praise for rendering a complex, controversial topic with clarity and elegance. It's also good looking...quite marvellous.”
British Medical Journal
“Instructive and, crucially, non-judgmental...illustrated with fascinating posters, artwork and rarely seen drawings.”
Sunday Express
“A lively whisk through the history of mind-altering substances.”
The Times
View all books