Shakespeare Saved My Life:
Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard

by Laura Bates

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.

“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

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March 17 – 31, 2015

Meet Laura Bates

Laura Bates has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in Comparative Literature, with a focus on Shakespeare studies. She is Professor of English at Indiana State University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Shakespeare. For more than twenty-five years she has also taught in prison. She created the world’s first Shakespeare program in supermax—the long-term solitary confinement unit.  Her work has been featured in local and national media, including two segments on MSNBC-TV’s Lock Up. She is the author of “Shakespeare Saved My Life:” Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard (Sourcebooks, 2013).

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