Jailhouse Lit: Great Works of Literature Written in Prison

By Heba Hasan

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

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Nelson Mandela emerges from prison after serving 27 years of detention in 1990. (AP Images)
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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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/08/jailhouse-lit-great-works-of-literature-written-in-prison/261190/