Prison is supposed to be correctional, but when creative people are sent behind bars, they use the boredom, terror, and awful food of the system in a more positive way. You might be surprised to know that many historical figures have so far used the bleakness and solitude of their jail cell to come up with a work of literature. From Daniel Defoe’s A Hymn to the Pillory to Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, here we have mentioned the facts on some of the most influential works written behind bars:
Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King
In April 1963, the protagonist of American civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was sent to jail on charges of leading a public demonstration without legal permission. During his nine days stay at Birmingham jail, King used the bits of toilet papers and margins of newspapers to pen down a response to a group of clergymen that labeled him as an agitator. The 7000 words essay used quotations from some of the most influential political books of that time, and included the famous line “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” A few days before his release, some of the secret followers of King in the jail’s administrative department collected the scraps of his writing and send them to various publishing houses across the nation. The book influenced many to join the civil rights movement.
A Hymn to the Pillory by Daniel Defoe
Daniel Defoe is still remembered for his novel Robinson Crusoe. But besides being a novelist and poet, he was also a campaigner and pamphleteer during England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688. In 1703, he was arrested for writing The Shortest Way with the Dissenters, a journal which satirized high Anglican Tories. He was then sentenced to stand in the pillory (a device made of wood having holes for securing the head and hands) until he could find sureties for his good behaviour. In Newgate Prison, Defoe was tortured for committing a political crime. Perturbed by this, he composed the famous poetry book A Hymn to the Pillory, the copies of which were sold by his followers during one of his sessions in the pillory. The poem touched the heart of spectators to such as extent that instead of pelting him with rotten food, they decorated his pillory with flowers.
The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine
His series of political pamphlets known as Common Sense and the famous book Rights of Man aroused people against the ruling government during the Age of Enlightenment. After being convicted of seditious libel against the British government, he fled to France where he fought for civil rights and was elected to the French National Convention. Paine was sent to prison by order of Robespierre, then president of the Committee of Public Safety. In prison, he wrote book The Age of Reason, which highlighted the authority of organized religion and advocated for deism.
Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
Though he studied mathematics at college, Bernard Russel was famous for his political books including the German Social Democracy and Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits. In 1950, he was awarded the Novel Prize for literature for his diverse range of books on human rights. He also wrote many books of mathematics, Principia Mathematica being the greatest among them. During the World War I, he campaigned against the British government. As a result of which, he was sentenced to six months imprisonment. During this period, he wrote the “Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy,” a book which expounded the ideas laid out in the book Principia Mathematica.
The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela is one of the most revered statesmen of our time. He was sent to prison for his campaign that was focused to end the white minority rule and racial discrimination in South Africa. He was released in 1990, after 27 years imprisonment, and was awarded the Novel Peace Prize in 1993. In the year 1994, when he became the president, his autobiography was published by Little Brown & Co. Much of the autobiography is based on the manuscripts written by him in prison. The work recounts his early life, education, and experiences in prison, where he was made to do hard labour in a lime quarry and was locked in solitary confinement.
When we think of prisoners, it brings to mind the images of terrifying wrongdoers, unworthy of living in the society. But sometimes one can be held as a criminal just for destroying the restrictive stereotypes of the system or challenging an unjust government. The above-mentioned works exemplify that jail time and criminal convictions can be used creatively. To know more about such criminals, you can read the various journals and books published by the Australian Institute of Criminology. However, if loads of pending assignments are not letting you focus on this area, then seek assignment help from our experts.