When we read a book, most of the time we don’t even in what circumstances the book was written or what the mental condition of the writer was while he was writing the book. Well though it might not interest us much to do a background study of a book, because we generally assume that the author might have written the book in usual locations, comfortably sitting on his study table or pondering under a tree. But have we ever thought that the book might also have been written in a prison cell ? Yes! Many of the well known books like, Hitler’s Mein Kampf and John Bunyan’s The Pilgrims Progress have been written when these authors were in jail. Let’s have a quick glance at some of these well known books written in prison:
#1 Letter from Birmingham Jail
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was put behind the bars in April 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, for leading a public demonstration without permission. He was said to be behind the bars for nine days, during which he used bits of jailhouse toilet papers and margins of newspapers to send a response to a group of Birmingham clergymen who denounced a fight against his segregation and labelled him as an outside agitator. These scraps of papers were collected by the King’s associates and were typed before his release. These writings were published as Letter from Birmingham Jail.
#2 The Pilgrim’s Progress
John Bunyan was originally a tinker by trade who made his name in the late 1650s when he found religion and became a popular separatist preacher. His increasing followers became a hindrance in the eyes of the monarchy, which was considered illegal for him to hold religious gatherings which were going against the Anglican Church. He was arrested in 1660 and was confined in jail in Bedford. Though he was sentenced for only three months but due to his refusal of quitting preaching he had to spend more than 12 years behind the bars. During this tenure of his started writing The Pilgrim’s Progress, a religious allegory that follows the adventures of a Christian crusader who have to endure all the trial while his journey to Celestial City. The book was published in 1678 after he completed his imprisonment.
#3 Mein Kampf
There must be a very few people who have not heard the name of the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler. He was in prison for attempting to overthrow the government in the futile Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. During his prison, he started writing his autobiography, Four and a Half Years (of struggle) Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice. This title was later changed on the advice of the publisher as Mein Kampf. The book contains Hitler’s ideology, most of his plans, his character and his vision.
#4 Don Quixote
Don Quixote a well known literary piece was derived in a prison cell. This humorous, witty and sardonic novel written by Miguel de Cervantes is the first contemporary European novel with its imaginative original knight in its immaculate armour. He wrote part of his magnum opus while serving his time for his debt predicament in Spain in the 17th century.
#5 Le Morte d’Arthur
Le Morte d’Arthur written by Sir Thomas Malory was put in jail for rape and for theft. Very little is known about the author of such a well known collection, though. During 1470, while he was put in lock he wrote his collection of King Arthur Camelot’s. This collection later became as the first Caxton bestseller.
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