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In Black and White: 10 Famed Literary Jailbirds

The internet has been hopping this past week with the news that Lil’ Wayne is set to release Gone Till November, a memoir based on the journals he kept during his eight month stint at Rikers Island, this fall. Weezy’s transformation to memoirist got us to thinking about other famous literary jailbirds — whether they wrote in jail, wrote after coming out of jail, or were imprisoned for their writing. As you might imagine, going to prison seems to be almost a rite of passage for a canonical author — at least it used to be — so it looks like Weezy is heading down the right path. Click through to read our list of ten famed literary jailbirds, and let us know if we missed any of your favorite authors-behind-bars in the comments.

The Marquis de Sade

The libertine of all libertines spent about 32 years in prisons and one insane asylum during his life, including ten years at the Bastille, and wrote most of his novels behind bars — possibly in large part to pass the boring, lady-less time. He was arrested several times for acts of blasphemy, indecency and alleged abuse, and only was able to publish any of his writing in his relatively brief periods of freedom. Even so, in 1801, when Napoleon Bonaparte himself called for the arrest of the anonymous author of Justine and Juliette, Sade was thrown back in jail right away, before being declared legally insane in 1803 and moved to the asylum at his family’s petition.

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