Shakespeare Saved My Life

Shakespeare Saved My Life

Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard

By Laura Bates

Sourcebooks, Paperback, 9781402273148, 291pp.

Publication Date: April 2013


"A powerful testament to how Shakespeare continues to speak to contemporary readers in all sorts of circumstances."--Booklist

"The work that Laura Bates has been doing for years with prison inmates and Shakespeare is of extraordinary importance. It has a kind of beauty and symmetry all its own."--David Bevington, Shakespeare scholar, University of Chicago

"An eye-opening study reiterating the perennial power of books, self-discipline, and the Bard of Avon."--Kirkus

While He Was Breaking Out of Prison, She Was Trying to Break In.

Shakespeare professor and prison volunteer Laura Bates thought she had seen it all. That is, until she decided to teach Shakespeare in a place the bard had never been before -- supermax solitary confinement. In this unwelcoming place, surrounded by inmates known as the worst of the worst, is Larry Newton. A convicted murderer with several escape attempts under his belt and a brilliantly agile mind on his shoulders, Larry was trying to break out of prison at the same time Laura was fighting to get her program started behind bars.

Thus begins the most unlikely of friendships, one bonded by Shakespeare and lasting years--a friendship that, in the end, would save more than one life.

About the Author
Laura Bates is an English professor at Indiana State University, where she has taught courses on Shakespeare for the past 15 years to students on campus and in prison. Her work has been featured in national media, including MSNBC's "Lock Up". Laura lives in Indiana.

Monday, Apr 22, 2013

Many people thought Laura Bates was out of her mind when she offered to teach Shakespeare in the maximum security wing of an Indiana prison. But the prisoners found a deep connection with the playwright's words. Laura Bates talks about her experience in her new book Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard. She speaks with host Michel Martin. More at

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