Shakespeare Saved My Life

ISBN: 9781402273148

By: Laura Bates

Published: 04/02/2013

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A female professor, a super maximum security prisoner, and how Shakespeare saved them both

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.

A testament to the power of literature, Shakespeare Saved My Life is a remarkable memoir. Fans of Orange is the New Black (Piper Kerman), A Place to Stand (Jimmy Baca) and I Couldn't Help Myself (Wally Lamb) will be be inspired by the story of the most unlikely friendship, one bonded by Shakespeare and lasting years—a friendship that would, in the end, save more than one life.

What readers are saying about Shakespeare Saved My Life

"I was tremendously moved by both the potential impact of Shakespeare and learning on human beings and the story of this one man."

"This is one of the most extraordinary books I've ever read."

"I have never read a book that touched me as much as this memoir."

"It is a challenging and remarkable story."

"I loved this book so much. It changed my life."

What reviewers are saying about Shakespeare Saved My Life

"You don't have to be a William Shakespeare fan, a prisoner, or a prison reformer to appreciate this uplifting book. "Shakespeare Saved My Life" also reveals many important truths ... about the meaning of empathy in our dealings with others"—Finger Lake Times

"Shakespeare Saved My Life touches on the search for meaning in life, the struggles that complicate the path to triumph and the salvation that can be found in literature's great works ... An inspiring account."—Shelf Awareness

"Opening the mind's prison proves enormously gratifying, not to mention effective ... brave, groundbreaking work"—Publishers Weekly

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

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


Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Favorite Freakin’ Shakespeare

Chapter 2: The Value of Education

Chapter 3: Breaking Out

Chapter 4: Breaking In

Chapter 5: I’m In

Chapter 6: Newton’s In

Chapter 7: Life Inside

Chapter 8: The First Lesson I Teach

Chapter 9: The First Group Session

Chapter 10: The First Lesson I Learn

Chapter 11: Regaining Lost Humanity

Chapter 12: Contraband

Chapter 13: Childhood

Chapter 14: The Tragedy of Macbeth

Chapter 15: Supermax Kid

Chapter 16: The Closet

Chapter 17: My Secret Life

Chapter 18: Tough Freedoms

Chapter 19: “To Know My Deed”

Chapter 20: CSI: Muncie, Indiana

Chapter 21: Death Penalty

Chapter 22: Escape Artist

Chapter 23: The Dagger I See before Me

Chapter 24: The Shower: Newton

Chapter 25: The Shower: Me

Chapter 26: All Hands on Deck

Chapter 27: The Boat

Chapter 28: New Directions

Chapter 29: Sensory Deprivation

Chapter 30: Isolated…and Alone

Chapter 31: Ghosts in the Cell

Chapter 32: Insanity

Chapter 33: More House Calls

Chapter 34: Administrative Segregation versus Disciplinary Segregation

Chapter 35: Killer Dog

Chapter 36: Extraction

Chapter 37: B-East

Chapter 38: This Prison Don’t Matter

Chapter 39: Meeting of the Minds

Chapter 40: Dr. Newton

Chapter 41: The Picture

Chapter 42: “That’s Freedom”

Chapter 43: Another Door Opens

Chapter 44: Killer Dog Comes Inside

Chapter 45: “Shakespearean Considerations”

Chapter 46: Hamlet: to Revenge or Not to Revenge

Chapter 47: Othello: Girl Meets Boy

Chapter 48: “Shakespeare Saved My Life”

Chapter 49: Shakespeare Saved My Life

Chapter 50: Shakespeare Could Save Your Life Too

Chapter 51: Doing Life

Chapter 52: Romeo and Juliet

Chapter 53: Romeo and Juliet for Youth Incarcerated as Adults

Chapter 54: Balance

Chapter 55: Tybalt Must Die!

Chapter 56: Killer in the Classroom

Chapter 57: Hands that Kill Can Also…Sew?

Chapter 58: Fears and Phobias

Chapter 59: Sociopath or…

Chapter 60: Socrates

Chapter 61: Doing Good for Bad Done

Chapter 62: Correctional Education

Chapter 63: “Cool!”

Chapter 64: Timeline of Anxiety

Chapter 65: Media Celebrity

Chapter 66: Cell Phone in the Cell

Chapter 67: Back to Seg

Chapter 68: Remembering the Victims

Chapter 69: Full Circle

Chapter 70: Tragic Kingdom

Chapter 71: “Stay Strong”

Chapter 72: Closing Doors

Chapter 73: The Letter

Chapter 74: Powering through with Shakespeare

Chapter 75: Revelation

Chapter 76: Footprint in the World

Chapter 77: Mother’s Day

Chapter 78: Five Steps


Reading Group Guide


About the Author



Favorite Freakin’ Shakespeare

Oh, man, this is my favorite freakin’ quote!”

What professor wouldn’t like to hear a s


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“Readers will find much to be inspired by and optimistic about in Bates’s book” - PopMatters

“You don’t have to be a William Shakespeare...

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Format: Paperback

Length: 8 in
Width: 5.25 in
Weight: 11.20 oz
Page Count: 304 pages


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