Was Shakespeare A Stoner?
To celebrate Shakespeare's birthday, we're featuring some of our favorite archival pieces about his life and work. This one was first published in June 2011. Happy Birthday Bill!
To smoke or not to smoke? That is the question.
But a South African anthropologist has asked permission to open his grave to see if the playwright was smoking weed when he wrote his famous plays and poems, reports Live Science.
Other questions like how Shakespeare died could be answered by examining his skeleton, but it's his hair, finger and toenails that could answer the much more interesting question of if he was a pothead.
Francis Thackery, director of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, is the leading academic on theories of Shakespeare's drug use. In 2001, Thackery found marijuana residue in pipe fragments found in Shakespeare's garden.
Time points out that marijuana was grown in England at the time and was used to make textiles and rope. Plus experts have wondered about the connections to cannabis in the Bard's work, like a mention of a "noted weed" and "a journey in his head," lines that appear in two different sonnets.
Thackery has brought the proposal to dig up the grave to the Church of England, but even if they accept, it's a project that's already cursed.
The stone covering the poet's grave carries an engraved curse for any would-be disturbers:
"Blessed be the man that spares these stones and cursed be he who moves my bones."
Thackery doesn't want to mess with a 400-year-old curse, and told Fox News, his team has incredible techniques, which don't require them to move the bones at all.
Before the team establishes whether or not Shakespeare was a stoner they'll have to identify his identity, plus, Thackery told Fox News the team will also perform DNA tests on the remains of both Shakespeare's wife and sister.