Doesn’t it break your heart when you learn that your favorite celebrities may have had a hidden past that isn’t exactly role-model worthy? Just imagine a scandal coming out centuries, and I mean literal centuries, after you are dead. According to recent studies, classic playwright William Shakespeare, author of renowned classics such as Romeo and Juliet to Hamlet, which our younger readers may know better as Gnomeo and Juliet and The Lion King, may have been a stoner. Turns out that pipes belonging to Shakespeare were discovered to have cannabis residue.
According to the South African Journal of Science, pipes found in the classic playwright’s garden, located in Stratford-upon-Avon, within central England, were reported to not only have traces of cannabis, but also nicotine. Other samples were found claiming to have a Peruvian cocoa-based cocaine within them. Well, mind-altering drugs do help explain A Midsummer’s Night Dream.
Mind you, the report does claim that it is entirely possible that the pipes may not have even belonged or were even used by the Bard, but there is speculation that his works may have given him away.
Professor Francis Thackeray of the Evolutionary Studies Institute at University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, noted that in one of the Bard’s sonnets, he makes reference to “compounds strange,” as well as an “invention in a noted weed.” Thackeray claims “I think that Shakespeare was playing with words and (it) is probably a cryptic reference to cannabis.”
And this isn’t something that is only noteworthy out of context, either; cannabis was condemned by religious groups long before Shakespeare was alive. “Writers who were explicit about Cannabis could have their books burnt,” as Thackeray explained. However, it is believed that it was common for people of Shakespeare’s setting to accidently smoke different things they incorrectly assumed to be different forms of tobacco, such as that aforementioned, “henbane of Peru.”
Like all good celebrity scandals, Shakespeare even made the mistake of having his picture taken in the act, and by picture we mean portrait. As Thackeray points out, it is a bit ironic that what is believed to be the sole authentic portrait of the man is found in a botany book.