Jailhouse Lit: Great Works of Literature Written in Prison

Justice, civil disobedience, and mental health are just a few of the topics covered by these incarceration-inspired books.

[optional image description]
Nelson Mandela emerges from prison after serving 27 years of detention in 1990. (AP Images)

When we imagine the places where our favorite authors penned their greatest masterpieces, a jail cell usually doesn't come to mind. But, whether their writers were prisoners of war or victims of bigotry, the solitude and lack of distractions have produced many a great book. From Oscar Wilde's apologia on spiritual awakening to Thoreau's thoughts on civil disobedience, we survey authors whose great mental escapes from incarceration resulted in some of their most insightful and profound works.

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

Presented by

Heba Hasan writes for Flavorpill.

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Entertainment

Just In