Shakespeare on a high? Study suggests the playwright might have been high while writing

Using state-of-the-art forensic technology, South African scientists have discovered that 400-year-old tobacco pipes of William Shakespeare contained cannabis, suggesting that the playwright might have been high while writing some of his famous works, reports the Telegraph.

Getty Images

Getty Images

In a paper published in the South African Journal of Science in July, Francis Thackeray (Phillip Tobias Chair in Palaeoanthropology, Evolutionary Studies Institute at University of the Witwatersrand) suggested the playwright used cannabis as a "stimulant which had mind-stimulating properties".

Residue from clay tobacco pipes more than 400 years old from the playwright’s garden were analysed in Pretoria using a sophisticated technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry, Thackeray writes in a report for the Independent.

"One can well imagine the scenario in which Shakespeare performed his plays in the court of Queen Elizabeth, in the company of Drake, Raleigh and others who smoked clay pipes filled with “tobacco"," adds Thackeray.

The report suggests that Shakespeare was familiar with the effects of drugs. According to the report, in Sonnet 76 Shakespeare writes about ‘invention in a noted weed’, which can be interpreted to mean that Shakespeare was willing to use ‘weed’ (Cannabis as a kind of tobacco) for creative writing (‘invention’).

In his paper, the scientist also issued an "an appeal is to the Shakespearean community to give attention" to his work and presented a series of arguments to back up his claims, reports the Mirror.

Click here to read the paper by Thackeray.

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Updated Date: Aug 09, 2015 13:26:36 IST

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