Mandela and the Robben Island Bible

Updated
 
Nelson Mandela's signature can be seen written on this edition of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, which was circulated South Africa's apartheid-era Robben Island jail in the 1970s.
Nelson Mandela's signature can be seen written on this edition of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, which was circulated South Africa's apartheid-era Robben Island jail in the 1970s.
Lefteris Pitarakis/AP Photo

In honor of Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday: a story about a book, known as the Robben Island Bible

Prisoners weren’t allowed to have reading material — one prisoner was finally allowed one book. The only thing he could think of that would keep him going in prison was Shakespeare’s Complete Works. So that’s what he got — and he circulated it secretly in the prison. Prisoners signed their favorite passages.

Nelson Mandela chose “Julius Caesar,” and signed in front of this line on December 16, 1977, thirteen years after the South African leader went to prison: ”Cowards die many times before their deaths.”

Prison

Mandela and the Robben Island Bible

Updated