10 BOOKS WRITTEN WHILE AUTHORS WERE BEHIND BARS

books written while authors were in prison

When the writing bug bites, it usually does not matter where a person is, as the following authors showcase. They penned great books while they were incarcerated for one reason or the other. The following list shows 10 books written while authors were behind bars.

#1. PILGRIM’S PROGRESS BY JOHN BUNYAN

Perhaps the eldest writer in this mention, John Bunyan was born in 1628 on Britain in a period when religion was a very controversial topic. Bunyan would soon find himself on the wrong side of the law when he started preaching. The book, Pilgrim’s progress was written during the 12 year imprisonment and published six years after his release. It was an instant success.

#2. THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM BY MARQUIS DE SADE

The person who has served considerable prison time in this list is Marquis De Sade – 32 years in total. Most of his best works were penned while he was incarcerated, including one the creation that gave him much success, 120 days of Sodom. He was accused of anything from blasphemy to prostitution and spend the time in prisons across Europe.

 

#3. IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST BY JACK ABBOTT

Jack Abbot penned the Belly of the beast whilst behind bars. He spent practically his whole life behind bars on various charges including manslaughter, forgery and bank robbery. He committed suicide in 2002 but not before he wrote the novel, with the help of Norman Mailer.

 

 

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#4. ON THE YARD BY MICHAEL BRALY

In this book, Michael Braly talks about his struggles and complexities of imprisonment. He has spent most of his life behind bars. He released this book in 1967 and it was adapted into a movie in 1979.

 

 

#5. SOUL ON ICE BY ELDRIDGE CLEAVER

Soul on ice is a collection of essays and short stories by Cleaver. Cleaver was a political activist an African American writer and early leader of the Black Panther party. He committed many acts of crime, including rape as he occasions in the book.

 

 

#6. THE ENORMOUS ROOM BY E.E CUMMINGS

E.E Cummings was an American Poet and novelist with almost 3000 poems to his name. He was captured and imprisoned for a while by the French military during the war and it is in this period that he penned the Enormous Room, a book that went to become a huge success.

 

#7. OUR LADY OF THE FLOWERS BY JEAN GENET

Jean was a french writer and poet. His early life was not a rosy though. He was a vagabond and a criminal and its these acts that saw him sent to prison time to time. In one of those moments, he penned Our lady of the Flower.

 

 

#8. CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE BY HENRY DAVID THOREAU

Henry is renowned for his outright resistance to taxation and this is what landed him into trouble and ultimately behind bars. Though he didn’t spend much time incarcerated, the idea for the book Civil disobedience was conceived behind bars.

 

#9. FANNY HILL: MEMOIRS OF A WOMAN OF PLEASURE BY JOHN CLELAND

John spent time in prison for failure to pay a debt – a staggering 840 pounds in 1748 (equivalent to 120,000 pounds in 2005). It was during this period that he penned down the Fanny hill, a book that brought him so much controversy and trouble that he wished it was ‘buried and forgotten’.

 

#10. DE PROFUNDIS BY OSCAR WILDE

This list would not be complete without mentioning Oscar Wilde. He was an Irish Playwright and poet. He was in prison between 1895 and 1897 for sodomy and gross indecency. He penned De Profundis during this period.

 

 

 

There are other numerous books written while authors were behind bars. We shall update the list soon. Keep checking.