Thomas Burke & Tourism

In the 1920s Limehouse Chinatown became thought of as a notorious focus for crime, exotic mystery and alluring sexuality partly through the wildly imaginative writings of Thomas Burke, especially his first book of short stories Limehouse Nights: Tales of Chinatown of 1916.

Burke's "More Limehouse Nights"

Burke’s “More Limehouse Nights”

Thomas Burke

Thomas Burke

Burke’s opium-wreathed fantasy world of fascinating Orientals loving white girls in secret retreats set amid the violence and squalor of the East End proved irresistible. In the 1920s and 30s the curious would nightly descend on the area from the West End, either in organised parties or as individual private tours, some led by Burke himself.

Burke's "Song Book of Quong Lee"

Burke’s “Song Book of Quong Lee”

Star of the East pub

Star of the East pub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In later life Burke attempted to distance himself from the legend he had done so much to create.