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Sunday, 5 November, 2000, 06:08 GMT
Did cannabis fuel Bard's genius?
Globe Theatre
Globe Theatre: Platform for Shakespeare's "dark visions"
Scientists in South Africa believe they may have discovered the stimulus for Shakespeare's creative genius - cannabis.

Dr Frances Thackery and Professor Nick van der Merwe are investigating whether the secret of the Bard's prolific output was his dope-smoking, reports the Independent on Sunday.


This project has Stratford agog

Dr Frances Thackery
A number of clay pipes found at Shakespeare's home in Stratford-upon-Avon are currently being tested for traces of the drug.

Dr Thackeray, head of palaeontology at the Transvaal Museum in Pretoria, believes imagery used in Shakespeare's work points to a drug habit.

Put that in your pipe...

He told the paper the playwright's use of complex imagery of darkness and mental journeys provide evidence of drug-induced visions.

Willliam Shakespeare
Shakespeare: No dope when it came to literary output
In a paper written for the Shakespearean Society of Southern Africa, he said: "There are very few literary scholars who have recognised the potential link between Shakespeare and hallucinogenic stimuli. This project has Stratford agog.

"A close reading of his sonnets and some other lines suggests that he was aware of them and may have experienced the effects himself."

The two scientists have asked Pretoria police laboratories to analyse the contents of several clay pipes retrieved from New Place in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare lived until his death in 1616.

Cannabis was first cultivated in England in 400AD and in the 16th and 17th centuries was commonly used to produce hemp for ships' ropes and canvas.

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See also:

21 Mar 00 | Medical notes
Cannabis: The debate
07 Aug 00 | Education
Teachers 'need Shakespeare lessons'
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