Shakespeare = Pothead?

BBC: Bard ‘used drugs for inspiration’

According to the article, pipes dug up from William Shakespeare’s garden have been dated to the 17th century, and they contain traces of cannabis. The insinuation is that he may have smoked marijuana to get inspiration for his writing.

However, regarding that conclusion:

I disagree. If this is true, is he any less of a genius, simply because he came up with ideas under the influence of a drug?

Well, there may certainly be some difference in methods of preparing the stuff in the recent past vs. Shakespear’s time, but I would find it highly doubtful that this is accurate.

The main reason being (related to my comment on preparation) that marijuana burns at a higher temperature than “normal” tobacco. If you attempt to take a normal pipe, and pack it with marijuana and attempt to smoke it, you won’t get high because the pipe bowl will overheat, crack and burning embers will rain down on your lap.

[sub]What? Of course I never…Did I ever mention I was a frat boy when I was in college?[/sub]

More directly in response to your OP, I agree with you… If he DID use drugs of any sort or not should not be considered to take away from his genius.


I dunno, man. I mean, Shakespeare’s early plays were totally trippin’. Like that “Midsummer” one? That’s some pretty messed up shit, with the dude with the donkey head and the fairies and the humans doin’ the nasty all over the place. But his later stuff just sucked. Like that one about the really old king. I mean, what’s that shit about? Dude giving away his kingdom to his three skanky daughters? That’s just lame, man. Maybe he went through rehab, like Aerosmith. Man, Aerosmith just sucks since they went all Betty Ford. So yeah, I can see the Bard smoking some herb in his early days.

He may also have stuffed rabid wombats up his ass as a source of inspiration. Would that lessen the value of his work at all?


I don’t know anything about this myself, but my friend informs me that smoking out of a wood pipe does work, and in fact might work better than a typical glass or metal pipe. Or do you mean something else by “normal pipe”?


Well, all I’m relating is my own experience, and I wasn’t about to sacrifice a second briar wood pipe to the cause of experimental science.

Was your friend refering to a wood (usually Briar) pipe intended for tobacco, or a wood pipe actually intended for marijuana, which would have thicker walls and a shallower bowl?


Mr2001, try and get hold of a copy of The Doors of Perception, by Aldous Huxley. It recounts the details of one of his (admittedly infrequent) experiments with mescalin. In his case at least his judicious use of the drug significantly enhanced his creative prowess.

I’d say anybody who got stoned wrote stuff that was still good in the sober light of morning was a real genius.
The article does not give any details, the pipes may have been made of clay, rather than wood.
Minty, Lear had 2 skanky daughters and one nice one. Put down the pipe and no one will get hurt.

Dammit, I knew I should have put a sarcasm warning in that last post …

Nahhh…if the human brain is all about chemicals, then everybody has something they like to use to stimulate themsleves creatively. Some folks like to listen to classical music. Some have to be all alone in a quiet room. Other folks need caffiene or a good novel, or even just the right pen to get their juices flowing. Pot is just more blatant as something you “put into” your brain that people try to give it all the credit for some folks’ creativity. But a moron on weed is still a moron. Sometimes even more a moron.

Besides…Faulkner was piss-ass drunk all the time. Hendrix used to line his headband with tabs of acid so he would start tripping in the middle of performances. No one questions their genius.

Well, not no one. But no one questions it on the basis of the substances they used, anyway.

In Stephen King’s book, “On Writing,” he talks about the whole alcoholism-creative writer myth. That is, it really doesn’t make you any more creative/brill if you’re alcoholic. Essentially, in terms of alcoholism, Fitzgerald and Hemingway were no different from drunken, dissipated derelicts.

If you guys want a quote i’d be happy to dig it out for you.

PS: Weird timing. We’re getting ready to discuss a Shakesperian play in English and have been talking about the life of the Bard in class. Not that I’m going to show my English teacher this thread…:wink:

Isn’t making the connection betweek finding traces of cannibis use in his garden and him using it as inspiration a bit speculative?

That’s like saying we found some empty six packs in Dale Earnhardt’s garage and thus he drank because he felt it inspired his driving.

Or maybe it just doesn’t make HIM more creative. There’s plenty of ways to get into the mood, and if you’re convinced that you can’t write well unless you’re drunk, chances are you won’t.

On the other hand if your convinced you can’t write well unless your drunk, it doesn’t mean you WILL write well when your drunk. If it does anything, it eleveates the mind-crushing anxiety that keeps you from sitting down to write in the first place. Which is not the same thing as making you more creative.
“Coleridge was Coleridge before he ever did opium.”

                             Liquid Sky

Okay. If you take “creativity” as the one set amount of creativity that you have in your being, then it is present whether you are accessing it or not.

However, isn’t it possible that some people might find it difficult, for whatever reason, to access that part of themselves unless they are fucked up on some substance?


He bought it at a tobacco shop (the kind that just has tobacco and wood pipes - as opposed to a “tobacco product” shop, wink wink), so I can only assume it was intended for tobacco.

I agree with Satan here. Look at the logical train of this:

Pipes containing traces of cannibis were found at Shakespeare’s house.

Shakespeare is a great writer of the English language.

Therefore, Shakespeare used cannibis as inspiration for his work.

There’s no logical connection between these statements. For all we know, it could have been Mrs. Shakespeare who toked away and Will was so irritated by the fumes, he threw himself into theater work to get away from his dope-fiend wife. Makes as much sense.

I agree that simply finding pipes in his garden wouldn’t suggest more than that he may have used it, but apparently they did have reason to suspect that it was a source of inspiration… from the same article:

It’s just a shame that asshole from Porlock showed up right in the middle of the fifth act of Hamlet.

(No really, I hear Bill was planning on writing another four acts, except he forgot to make notes after he woke up . . .)

It’s been said already, but I’ll say it again: one who smokes pot != pothead just as one who drinks beer != alcoholic.

We know Shakepeare drank. Now we might know he toked up once in a while. So what?

Wells’ concerns are founded, IMO. There ARE going to be plenty of people who will use this to discount Shakespeare’s work.

'Course, next thing you know people will be saying that Francis Bacon actually packed the bowl.