How the “Robben Island Bible” Helped Create a Reading Revolution
In an interview with France24, Sonny Venkatrathnam recalls how Indian religious images from postcards his parents sent disguised the copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare that became a symbol of the prisoners’ educational revolution on Robben Island. Now known as the Robben Island Bible, the book is the focus of Ashwin Desai’s Reading Revolution:
Nelson Mandela’s handwritten memoirs were smuggled off South Africa’s Robben Island to become an international bestseller after his release from 27 years in apartheid jail.
The manuscript’s risky passage is just one of the extraordinary journeys of the island’s books and the lengths taken to obtain, protect and share them in cells where learning and reading were celebrated.
- Reading Revolution: Shakespeare on Robben Island by Ashwin Desai