Recent findings from South African Scientists report that pipes excavated from the garden of William Shakespeare contained cannabis, meaning that the famous playwright may gotten some of his inspiration from marijuana.
Of the 24 17th century clay pipe fragments that were excavated from his garden, eight contained weed residue (resin). The pipes were analysed using a sophisticated mass spectrometer called gas chromatography mass spectrometry
In Sonnet 76, he writes about “invention in a noted weed”, which could be interpreted to mean that Shakespeare was willing to use “weed”, or cannabis, while he was writing.
In the same sonnet it appears that he would prefer not to be associated with “compounds strange”, which can be interpreted, at least potentially, to mean “strange drugs”
A recent Huffington Post article reports:
“We don’t know what Shakespeare did or didn’t do,” Shapiro told The Huffington Post. “Just because these pipes were found in his garden doesn’t mean his neighbor kid didn’t throw the pipes over the fence. There are a million possible explanations.”
He’s especially skeptical of Thackeray using Sonnet 76 as supporting evidence, which Shapiro called a “really lame interpretation” of the poem.
This is the passage from Sonnet 76:
Why is my verse so barren of new pride,
So far from variation or quick change?
Why with the time do I not glance aside
To new-found methods and to compounds strange?
Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Showing their birth and where they did proceed
Shakespeare’s Online presence even speculates that he could have used weed as a source of inspiration for his work.
All in all we will never know if Shakespeare was a stoner or if he never smoked weed; but if A Midsummer Night’s Dream is any indication, I would say that chances are pretty good.