William Shakespeare sought inspiration by smoking cannabis in the sort of pipe commonly referred to as a "bong", a South African scientist has claimed.
In a paper published in the South African Journal of Science last month, Francis Thackeray suggested the playwright used cannabis as a "stimulant which had mind-stimulating properties".
Thackeray, who currently holds the Phillip Tobias Chair in Palaeoanthropoloy at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at University of the Witwatersrand, analysed the "plant residues" found in the tobacco pipes used in Stratford Upon Avon during the 17th Century - some of which were reportedly found in the Bard's garden.
He assessed 24 of these pipes and found traces of cannabis in eight samples - and Peruvian cocaine in two.
"[There was] unquestionable evidence for the smoking of coca leaves in early 17th century England, based on chemical evidence from two pipes in the Stratford-upon-Avon area.
"Neither of the pipes came from the garden of Shakespeare. Four of the pipes with cannabis came from Shakespeare’s garden."
Since he first tested the old bongs in 2001, Thackeray has been on a mission to convince Shakespeare fans that their hero was actually a stoner.
In his latest paper, the scientist issued an "an appeal is to the Shakespearean community to give attention" to his work and presented a series of arguments to back up his claims.
"One can well imagine the scenario in which Shakespeare performed his plays in the court of Queen Elizabeth, in the company of Drake, Raleigh and others who smoked clay pipes filled with ‘tobacco’," Thackeray wrote.
"However, there were several kinds of ‘tobacco’ in those days."
He presented the following "literary indications" of Will's herbal predilections.
"In Sonnet 76 Shakespeare writes about ‘invention in a noted weed’," he added.
"This can be interpreted to mean that Shakespeare was willing to use ‘weed’ (cannabis as a kind of tobacco) for creative writing (‘invention’). "
Just like many modern-day reggae artists, the playwright did not agree with snorting cocaine.
"Shakespeare may have been aware of the deleterious effects of cocaine as a strange compound," Thackeray continued.
"In the same sonnet it appears that he would prefer not to be associated with ‘compounds strange’, which can be interpreted, at least potentially, to mean ’strange drugs’ (possibly cocaine).
A similar sentiment can be seen in the lyrics to Wayne Smith's hugely influential tune Under Me Sleng Teng - the first reggae number to use digital instrumention - and a number of other Jamaican songs which extol the relative virtues of blazing weed and condemn the dangers of cocaine.