- Title: The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela
- Editor: Sahm Venter (Foreword by Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela)
- Publisher: Random House, South Africa
- Country of Origin: South Africa
- Publication Year: 2018
- ISBN: 9781631395465
- Bib. Info: Hardcover
To be published upon the centenary of his birth, The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela is a landmark work: the first, and only, authorized and authenticated collection of correspondence spanning the twenty-seven years Mandela was held as a political prisoner.
Poignant, impassioned, gripping, and always inspirational, the letters – many of them never seen by the public – have been assembled from the collections held by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the South African National Archives among others. On 12 June 1964, Mandela – then serving a five-year sentence at a Pretoria prison – would learn the apartheid government had no intention of ever setting him free. Brought up on charges of sabotage and now sentenced to life, Mandela and six others were led to the notorious maximum-security compound on Robben Island, where harsh physical conditions and brutal enforcement combined to systematically dehumanize inmates. Denis Goldberg, the only white person convicted and sentenced to life with Mandela was sent to Pretoria to serve his sentence as apartheid regulations prevented him from being imprisoned with his black comrades. Decades later, despite enduring three other prisons and a life-threatening illness, Mandela would prove his captors wrong. The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela is a testament of his defiance and his resolve.
During his incarceration, Mandela would pen a multitude of letters to loved ones, compatriots, prison authorities, and government officials. At first, he was only allowed to write and receive one letter of five hundred words every six months. Even when restrictions were finally loosened regarding the length and regularity of his correspondence, his jailors continued censoring his letters for political overtones – even innocuous references. The ultimate output reflects the famed Mandela willfulness and resilience; here every word is chosen as if his life depended upon it.