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Was Shakespeare HIGH when he wrote his works?
Was Shakespeare HIGH when he wrote his works? New chemical analysis of tobacco pipes found in the Bard's garden suggests he had a taste for cannabis
Researchers tested fragments of pipe found in writer's garden in Stratford
Chemical analysis showed they had been used to smoke cannabis
Shakespeare's neighbours also took cocaine which had recently been introduced into England for the first time
Academics suggest his plays could have performed in a smoky haze
HUGO GYE FOR MAILONLINE
14:22 GMT, 9 August 2015
14:30 GMT, 9 August 2015
Drug fiend? Shakespeare has been accused of smoking cannabis by modern-day researchers
William Shakespeare could have written his plays under the influence of drugs, according to researchers who have identified traces of cannabis in pipes found in the author's garden.
South African scientists carried out a chemical analysis on broken pieces of pipe found in Shakespeare's garden in Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as in the grounds of his neighbours' homes.
They discovered that four of the pipes from the playwright's house had traces of cannabis on them - implying that Shakespeare himself may have enjoyed the drug.
Two pipes found nearby had apparently been used to smoke coca leaves, but the researchers suggest that the great writer deliberately rejected the more potent narcotic.
Francis Thackeray, of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, says that both cannabis and coca were considered variants of 'tobacco' during the Elizabethan period.
Cannabis had been known in Europe for centuries by Shakespeare's time, while coca is native to South America and came to the Old World thanks to explorers such as Francis Drake.
Writing in the South African Journal of Science, Professor Thackeray describes how he obtained the pipe fragments from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and submitted them to scientific analysis.
He used a technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry, which involves separating out different chemicals to discern the make-up of a particular residue.