Kicked Out of School

By Evan Andrews
Education might be one of the keys to success, but unruly students can take solace in the fact that some of history’s most influential figures were kicked out of school in their younger days. Most were dismissed for pranks or other youthful indiscretions, but a few got the boot thanks to the very qualities that later made them famous. From Edgar Allan Poe to Salvador Dalí, learn more about six historical figures who were expelled from school.

1. Edgar Allan Poe

edgar allen poe

In 1830, future literary legend Edgar Allan Poe resigned a post in the U.S. Army and enrolled at the United States Military Academy at West Point. The aspiring poet had previously left the University of Virginia after drinking and gambling his way into a mountain of debt, and it appears that his tenure at the Point was equally unsettled. Poe endured the school’s strict military discipline and thrived in his studies, but following a falling out with his foster father, John Allan, he resolved to intentionally get himself kicked out. A popular legend states that he won a court martial by showing up to a drill naked save for a cartridge belt, but in actuality, he simply stopped attending classes, roll call and chapel in favor of passing the time at Benny Havens’, a local watering hole. In total, Poe collected more than 200 offenses and demerits en route to being dismissed from West Point in January 1831. Before leaving, the 22-year-old convinced several of his classmates to donate money to fund the printing costs for his third book of poems. He later dedicated the volume to “the U.S. Corps of Cadets.”

2. William Randolph Hearst
william randolph hearst

Before he established a news media empire, William Randolph Hearst was one of Harvard University’s most notoriously unruly students. The young mogul-in-waiting struggled to keep up with the school’s rigorous academic program, preferring instead to spend his days working at the “Harvard Lampoon” humor magazine, keeping a pet alligator named “Champagne Charlie” and carousing with friends. Still, it may have been Hearst’s penchant for pranks that finally got him the boot. He famously left a donkey in a teacher’s classroom with a note around its neck that read, “Now there are two of you,” and once assaulted the performers at a Boston theater with custard pies. The final straw came in 1885, when Hearst—already on academic probation—mailed his professors specially made chamber pots with their names and photograph engraved on the inside. Hearst left Harvard in disgrace, but by 1887, he’d convinced his father to put him in charge of the family-owned San Francisco Examiner newspaper, kicking off a media career that would make him one of the world’s richest men.

3. Benito Mussolini

benito mussolini

During his school days in the 1880s and 90s, Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini had a notorious reputation for bullying, stealing and general defiance toward his teachers. “More than once I came back home with my head bleeding from a blow with a stone,” he later wrote of his many fights, “but I knew how to defend myself.” When he was nine, Mussolini’s parents sent him to a strict Catholic boarding school in the hope that the priests could smooth off his rough edges. The boy who would become “Il Duce” didn’t take to church discipline, however, and in 1893 he was expelled after he stabbed a fellow student in the hand with a penknife and threw an inkpot at a priest who tried to discipline him. Mussolini was sent to another boarding school, where he was nearly expelled a second time for yet another stabbing incident. Despite his seeming antipathy toward schooling, Mussolini later got a teaching certification and intermittently worked as an educator. Perhaps not surprisingly, the future dictator was known for his sternness, and was nicknamed “the tyrant” by his students.

4. Marlon Brando

marlon brando

One of actor Marlon Brando’s most famous film roles came in 1953’s “The Wild One,” where he played the leader of a rebel motorcycle gang. The biker character may not have been much of a stretch for Brando, an unabashed troublemaker and prankster who supposedly once rode a motorcycle through the halls of his high school in Libertyville, Illinois. “I was a bad student, chronic truant and all-around incorrigible,” Brando later wrote of his high school days. “I was forever being sent to the principal’s office to be disciplined.” Thanks to poor grades and a litany of bad behavior ranging from throwing firecrackers to writing a class essay on a roll of toilet paper, Brando was eventually expelled from Libertyville High in 1941. He then transferred to Shattuck Military Academy in Minnesota, where he continued to exhibit a healthy resentment toward authority. In 1943, Brando was put on probation and confined to campus for talking back to an officer during a drill. When he ignored the order and headed out for a day on the town, he was charged with being AWOL and formally dismissed. Having been expelled from two different schools, Brando moved to New York and dove into acting. He made his Broadway debut only one year later.

5. Percy Bysshe Shelley

percey bysshe shelley

Writer Percy Bysshe Shelley is best known as the author of beloved poems such as “Ozymandias” and “Queen Mab,” but he was also a notorious freethinker and rabble-rouser. In 1811, during his first year as a student at Oxford University, an 18-year-old Shelley joined with his friend Thomas Jefferson Hogg in anonymously writing a pamphlet called “The Necessity of Atheism.” The short text laid out the duo’s arguments against the existence of God, and was signed, “Thro’ deficiency of proof, an atheist.” Hoping to spark a theological debate, Shelley advertised the pamphlet extensively and used aliases to send copies to various clergyman and university professors. At the time, atheism was still considered an illicit topic, and before long, Shelley and Hogg were found out and dragged before Oxford’s academic authorities for questioning. When they refused to neither confirm nor deny authorship of the controversial pamphlet, both were expelled. The scandal created a rift between Shelley and his father, who denounced the leaflet as being “criminal” and “improper.” Only a few months later, Shelley cut ties with his family, eloped with a 16-year-old girl and set off to begin his literary career in earnest.

6. Salvador Dalí

salvador dali

In 1922, future Surrealist icon Salvador Dalí entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. Dalí had only applied to the school after being encouraged by his father, and from the beginning, he was none too impressed with its faculty. “I immediately understood that those old professors covered with honors and decorations could teach me nothing,” he later wrote. While he won acclaim for his bold painting style, Dalí was suspended from the Academy in 1923 for leading a student protest against the faculty selection process. He returned to San Fernando the following year, only to be expelled for good in 1926 after he proclaimed that none of his professors were skilled enough to evaluate his work. Following his dismissal, Dalí entered the Paris art world, adopted his signature upturned moustache and began collaborating with members of the Surrealist movement. By 1931, he had worked on two films and completed “The Persistence of Memory,” his most well known painting.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

By  Neil D. Isaacs, Burton Raffel

Written by an anonymous 14th-century poet, this epic poem is recognized as an equal of Chaucer’s masterworks and of the great Old English poems, including “Beowulf.” This edition includes a Preface by Raffel and a new Introduction. Revised reissue.

Shakespeare In Shackles

Text by Jeremy Berlin
On a windy April day in central Indiana, six men enter a room.Three are white, three are black. Two are over 50, the rest under 40. All of them wear khaki jumpsuits and carry books under their tattooed arms.They are six of the 1,840 inmates at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, a Level 4 maximum-security prison. Built in 1923, its Spanish Colonial Revival buildings and grassy courtyards once housed John Dillinger.

The men sit in a semicircle, facing a chalkboard and two visitors. One is the instructor, a gray-bearded man with glasses. The other is a guest speaker: a tall woman in her mid-50s with keen blue eyes and flaxen hair streaked silver. This is her first time in Pendleton. But she knows one of the inmates, kept in another part of the prison, very well.

“Remember,” she tells the men in the room, speaking cheerfully with a Midwestern cadence, “make what you read today relevant.”

One of the youngest men, wearing a green knit cap issued by the prison, stands up. “Me and John have been practicing,” says Chris Lewis, smiling proudly. “We’ll be Coriolanus and Menenius.”

He and John Gray, a short, goateed young man, face each other. The other four move to the side and open their books.

“O sir,” says Gray, reciting the adviser Menenius’s lines from memory, “you are not right: Have you not known the worthiest man have done’t?”

“What must I say?” says Lewis, playing the proud general Coriolanus. “‘I pray, sir’—plague upon’t! I cannot bring my tongue to such a pace:—’Look, sir, my wounds!’ I got them in my country’s service, when some certain of my brethren roar’d and ran from the noise of our own drums.'”

“O me, the gods!” says Gray. “You must speak of that: You must desire them to think upon you.”

“Think upon me!” says Lewis. “Hang ’em! I would they would forget me, like the virtues which our divines lose by ’em.”

“You’ll mar all,” says Gray. “I leave you. Pray you, speak to ’em, I pray you, in wholesome manner.”

Gray steps to the side. Three of the other men move in, playing Roman plebeians. They read their parts. Lewis continues from memory.

When Act 2, Scene 3 ends they stop and talk about what they’ve just read, picking apart each line for meaning and context. Then they run through the scene several more times before sitting down and discussing Coriolanus‘s titular character.

“He’s like General Patton,” says Tim Woods, burly and bearded with a shaved head. “He was great on the battlefield, but said inflammatory things in public.”

“I agree,” says Michael Shannon, his long brown hair pulled straight back. “He’s totally out of place—a military man forced into the political arena. He’s acting out of conscience, but he’s struggling with his ego.”

“His contempt for the citizenry—he reminds me of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men,” says Woods.

“Yeah?” says Zach Truax, a thin young man with a fresh buzz cut. “I picture the dude who played the English king in Braveheart.”

They go on, respectfully discussing the character and his motivations, tying it to their own lives, to pop culture and the modern world. The middle-aged woman sitting in their midst listens closely—and smiles.

Laura Bates sits with inmate Walter Travis while other inmates act out a Shakespeare scene during class at the Pendleton (Ind.) Correctional Facility on Friday, April 11, 2014.
At the Pendleton Correctional Facility in Indiana, Bates reads along with inmate Walter Travis as Chris Lewis (right), John Gray (left), and Michael Shannon (top left) perform a scene from Coriolanus. Prison official Neil Potter looks on. Jack Heller (not pictured), an English professor at Huntington University, started the Pendleton program after being inspired by Bates’s work. PHOTOGRAPH BY MIKE FENDER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Supermax Students

Laura Bates teaches Shakespeare to maximum-security prisoners. For most of the past 15 years she has focused on those in “Supermax”—the violent, erratic, “worst of the worst” stowed in long-term solitary confinement. She is the first and only person ever to do so.

“They’re the ones who need education the most,” says Bates, 56, an English professor at Indiana State University in Terre Haute. “And they’re the ones with the least opportunity. Shakespeare has the power to educate convicted killers and help them examine the choices they made that landed them here—and how to avoid making those choices again.

Reading and performing plays—the crux of most Shakespeare-in-prison programs found in 11 other states and half a dozen other countries—isn’t enough for Bates. Her work, uniquely, centers on critical thinking, interpretive analysis, and creative rewriting.

In one project, men from the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility collaborated with women from the Rockville Correctional Center (where Bates also volunteered) to rewrite The Taming of the Shrew in plain language, turning the play into a commentary on domestic violence. Other adaptations of Shakespeare plays, which were performed by prisoners in Wabash’s general population, spoke out against violence, revenge, and gangs.

“It’s the only way to bring Shakespeare back to their lives,” she says, “to make it matter in a way that’s personal.”

Picture of an inmate reading Coriolanus
Inmate Tim Woods reads Act 2, Scene 3 from Coriolanus during class at Pendleton. PHOTOGRAPH BY MIKE FENDER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Despite the gravity of her work, Bates is good-natured and quick to laugh. She speaks briskly, conversationally—more like an attentive neighbor than an ivory tower academic. That may have something to do with her salt-of-the-earth upbringing. Her parents were World War II refugees from Latvia who took factory jobs after they settled in Chicago. Bates and her sister grew up on the city’s west side, in the notorious Austin neighborhood.

“It was a ghetto,” she says with characteristic frankness. “A lot of crime and criminals. Having grown up with that population, I’m still more comfortable in a prison than in a university setting. The first time I volunteered as a literacy tutor in Cook County Jail, I wasn’t scared—or surprised to see some old friends from the neighborhood behind those bars.”

That was in 1984, when Bates believed “that first-time offenders would be the most rehabilitate-able. In fact, I remember arguing vehemently with a friend of my husband’s who was doing theater work with inmates at Joliet. I told him that the hard-core prisoners he was working with were beyond rehabilitation.”

She soon learned, however, that people in jail awaiting trial can be unstable, unsettled by drug withdrawal or by the adjustment to incarceration.

“Ironically,” she says, “it’s the lifers—the ones who have been in prison for 20 years and are resigned to it—who are the safest population to work with. And the ones we really need to reach. So it only took me 25 years to admit I was wrong in that initial argument!”

Solitary Confinement

For a dozen years after her first tutoring session at Cook County Jail, as she completed her doctorate under noted Shakespeare scholar David Bevington at the University of Chicago, Bates taught English courses at the medium-security Putnamville Correctional Facility. In the late 1990s, when she began as an adjunct professor at Indiana State, she volunteered at Wabash—one of two prisons in Indiana with a Security Housing Unit (SHU), aka solitary confinement.

Shakespeare has the power to educate convicted killers and help them examine the choices they made that landed them here—and how to avoid making those choices again.

The practice of keeping prisoners in solitary has become a hot-button issue in recent years. Conditions vary from prison to prison, but it’s essentially the same everywhere: An inmate spends 23 hours a day locked in a small windowless cell—on a concrete floor, behind a steel door—for weeks, months, even years at a time.

Since the early 1970s solitary confinement has been an increasingly popular sanction in state and federal prisons. But as public opinion shifts and budget cuts mount, states have begun rethinking its merits and viability. Is it an expensive but necessary means of segregating the most dangerous prisoners? Or an inhumane form of psychological, and perhaps unconstitutional, torture?

At Wabash, Bates knew she’d need something different to reach the SHU residents. So she turned to the Bard.

“I figured if I did the ‘criminal tragedies’—Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet—they’d see that the content isn’t all lovey-dovey, but things they can really relate to: complicated characters, moral decisions, action-packed adventure. And I thought, ‘If I can just get just one guy to buy in, he’ll spread the word.'”

Picture of Laura Bates talking with inmates in her Shakespeare class
Bates talks about Shakespeare with inmates Gray (left) and Zach Truax at Pendleton. She emphasizes critical thinking and discussion, asking inmates to relate the plays to their own lives and experiences. PHOTOGRAPH BY MIKE FENDER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Gold-Star Student

That one guy was Larry Newton. A fifth-grade dropout from Muncie, Newton had been in and out of juvenile facilities since he was ten years old. At 17 he was convicted of kidnapping and murder, along with two peers, and given a life sentence with no chance of parole. In prison he was violent again and again. He tried to escape several times. When Bates arrived at Wabash, he’d been in solitary confinement for a decade.

“I had never met an inmate who scared me—until Newton,” Bates writes in her book Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary With the Bard, a chronicle of her work with Newton and others in the Wabash SHU. “I had never rejected one—until Newton.”

But something made her think again. While screening prospective participants for her nascent “Shakespeare in Shackles” program, Newton’s sophisticated analysis of a soliloquy in Richard II—”It seems to me that he has gone from king to prisoner,” Newton wrote, “and in his thoughts goes back and forth, but seems to conclude with saying that until you have been at peace, or content, with nothing … you cannot be pleased with anything”—persuaded her to take a chance.

The United States is the biggest jailer in the world—1,570,400 inmates in state and federal prisons as of 2012.

For the next ten years Bates guided Newton and 200 other SHU inmates through careful considerations of Shakespeare’s plays. Each week guards would lead as many as eight prisoners, chained and leashed, from their windowless rooms into adjacent holding cells. As they knelt on the concrete floor, legs still shackled, they spoke through cuff ports (also called food-pass doors).

Bates sat on a plastic chair in the narrow hallway between their cells. Wearing jeans and a sweater, with a workbook on her lap and a pen in her hand, she guided them patiently through the thicket of Elizabethan English, encouraging them to articulate their ideas and refusing to let them settle for pat responses. Again and again, she reminded them to bring the discussion back to their own experiences.

Those close readings and thoughtful analyses led to appreciable changes. Prior to the program, says Bates, the 20 inmates who spent the most time with Shakespeare had had more than 600 write-ups for violent behavior. During and after the program, they totaled just two—for cell-phone possession.

In the SHU group Newton’s critiques were the most trenchant—”Some of his interpretations are being cited in scholarly papers and at conferences,” Bates says proudly—and his change the most profound. He was eventually released from solitary confinement at Wabash, and went on to write a manual to help other inmates read Shakespeare.

“He’s written workbooks for 13 separate plays,” says Bates, “and a synopsis page for 37 plays. I’ve used them with dozens of prisoners—and some of my college classes. Now I just need to find a publisher for Larry’s work.”

Newton is currently housed in Pendleton. Though he and Bates have kept in touch by mail, they have not seen each other for three years, and Bates was unable to secure a meeting with him when she visited the Coriolanus group on April 11. But she was hoping to reunite with her gold-star student when she was to return later in the month.


Rex Hammond doesn’t look like a career criminal. With his neat sandy hair, thoughtful expression, and blue oxford tucked into black slacks, the 49-year-old looks like a faculty member enjoying his lunch at an Indiana State University eatery.

But from the age of 12, when he stole a neighbor’s coin collection, until August 2009, when he was released from prison after serving time for armed robbery and taking a deputy hostage, he was a recidivist through and through.

“Classic case of differential association theory,” he says. “I was influenced by my peers and older brother—crime as a learned behavior. It happens in Shakespeare, where good people can become bad, like in Macbeth. And they can get played, like in Othello. But that’s life. And sometimes circumstances make a life-course criminal, from an early age well into adulthood.”

Hammond knows all this because he’s studying criminology at the graduate level. He’s been working on a master’s degree since completing his bachelor’s at ISU in 2012. He is also a graduate assistant for three professors.

Hammond says his turnaround began with education in prison—especially Shakespeare.

“When I met Dr. Bates in Wabash, I was 34 years old,” he says, “and I’d read ten books in my life, if I’m lucky. I took my first Shakespeare course with her, and I went, ‘Wow!’ It started opening my mind, getting me to think outside myself. The world became more than the 15 or 20 miles around me. And I saw right away how relevant it was. Our modes of technology have changed, but the human mind—wants, needs, desires—is the same as it was in Shakespeare’s time.”

Including our darker impulses. “Some criminologists ask, ‘Why do people commit crimes?’ says Hammond. “But Emile Durkheim, the French sociologist, turned that around and asked, ‘Why don’t people commit crimes?’ You see that a lot in Shakespeare’s plays. We all have within us the ability to become serial killers.”

Picture of an inmate in Laura Bates' class reading Coriolanus
Cast in the role of a Roman plebeian in Coriolanus, inmate Woods reads his lines during class at Pendleton. PHOTOGRAPH BY MIKE FENDER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Sitting in on Bates’s English 460 class at ISU, in a third-row chair by the window, Hammond offers a dose of stark reality in counterpoint to the other students, who are all in their early 20s and look like traditional undergrads. Bates walks the class—18 juniors and seniors, half of them paying attention, all bound for grad school or a teaching job—through six points in Macbeth, using one of Newton’s workbooks to frame the discussion.

“In Act 2, Scene 1,” she says, “Macbeth sees a floating dagger. What is he really seeing?”

“Well, he’s definitely not seeing an actual dagger,” says a student named Emily. “Maybe he’s seeing … opportunity?

“I think that’s right,” says Hammond. “When I went on a two-week armed-robbery spree, every night I’d see myself committing a robbery I hadn’t yet. The more it consumes you, the more it overtakes your mind.”

“OK,” says Bates. “What about accomplices? Let’s talk about the relationship between Macbeth and his wife.”

“Like Bonnie and Clyde,” says Sam, a male student, “this is a couple that’s extremely loyal to each other. They’ve got an interdependent sociopathic relationship.”

“She becomes a direct participant when she drugs the guards,” says a female student named Alex. “When she gets her hands dirty.”

“Actually,” says Hammond, “just talking about it makes her an accomplice in the eyes of the law. I can tell you that in prison, if you talk about doing a crime you don’t want anyone there. One person knowing is too many.”

Bates ends the class by showing a grainy five-minute video of her Wabash SHU group considering some of the same questions.

“Let’s look at influence,” says Newton on screen, leading the discussion through the cuff port of his cell door. “Do you think I could hypothetically convince you to conduct yourself in the way you’re most opposed to?”

“If you could push me to do it, then there was something in me already,” says inmate Leon Benson, another star SHU student who wrote a foreword to Newton’s workbooks. “We have to look at Macbeth as a human being. He might not be aware of influence. When I was on the streets, I was hustling. But who was I hustling for? I was being influenced unconsciously.”

“When I first read the play, I saw huge mitigating circumstances,” says Newton. “Blame the witches. Blame Lady Macbeth. But now I want to remove the influence argument and leave Macbeth to stand on his own for his behavior. As I’ve tried to do myself. I’m still finding reasons for why I behaved the way I did.”

Hammond watches the video and smiles. So does Bates.

Grassroots Volunteers

The United States is the biggest jailer in the world—1,570,400 inmates in state and federal prisons as of 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Should they be educated? And who should pay for it? These are fraught questions.

Data shows that higher education leads to less recidivism. Yet many legislators and voters balk at criminals receiving free college classes. In 1994 the U.S. Congress passed legislation to deny federal Pell Grants to prisoners. Over the past two decades many states have followed suit, phasing out prison education programs.

“I agree that lawbreakers shouldn’t get free education when law-abiding people have to pay for it,” says Bates. “But the old ‘it’s cheaper to educate than incarcerate’ line is true: Men and women in prison need education. We just need to figure out a way they can pay for it themselves, by working for it.”

In 2011, the Indiana General Assembly and budget-pressed Department of Corrections abolished college degree-granting programs. That included ISU’s distance-learning program, which had reached inmates like Hammond.

“That’s why it’s so important that my work is completely voluntary,” says Bates. “The fact that it doesn’t cost taxpayers a dime is one reason I don’t get shut down when other programming does. Now I want to get a new generation out there on a volunteer basis. Because really, at this point, that’s all we can do.”

You’re introducing critical thinking to people who have never had that opportunity.

Her grassroots seeding is starting to sprout disciples, like Micki Morahn.

Morahn, 59, works with Bates each week at the United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute. She uses her master’s degree in history to help prisoners contextualize what they’re reading, like explaining the Black Death pandemic of the 14th century.

“This is the place where you can make a difference,” she says. “Here you really see the brain starting to engage. You’re introducing critical thinking to people who have never had that opportunity.”

Keaton Bernier, a 23-year-old undergrad at ISU, and Joshua Akens, a 34-year-old graduate assistant, also help Bates at USP Terre Haute.

“Prisoners are people, and people make mistakes,” says Akens. “That’s how I see them, even though I admit I’m nervous around them. Hopefully, Shakespeare will help them start to see there are different perspectives out there, and that’ll create tolerance of other people and other cultures.”

Scott Bonham, chaplain at USP Terre Haute, says it’s already happening.

“Dr. Bates’s program has drawn inmates of different ages, races, and religions into a group—a big step toward civility and citizenship. Shakespeare’s plays still speak to deep and true ideas, thoughts, and emotions. The more inmates grapple with these profound ideas, the more they grasp human complexity and community.

“[Her program] expands interests, improves attitudes, and tempers negative behavior. It may only be a small group of inmates she and her volunteers work with at any one time, but the ripple effect is very powerful in prison. A dozen positive men can change the tenor of an entire unit—and ultimately an institution.”

Alan Kemp is one of those positive men. Tall and tanned with buzz-cut hair and a calm mien, he’s hoping to become the first inmate to start his own Shakespeare program. On a bright spring day Bates and her husband, Allan—a white-haired playwright and retired professor who is a constant companion to his wife—drop off a workbook for him at USP Terre Haute. As Bates wishes him luck, Kemp clutches the book to his chest, smiles, and walks back inside.

Picture of Laura Bates sitting with her Shakespeare class
Bates and inmates at Pendleton listen closely to a class member’s interpretation of a scene from Coriolanus. PHOTOGRAPH BY MIKE FENDER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Professors Play Their Part

Bates is also inspiring her peers. Cynthia Rutz, an English professor at Valparaiso University, has asked her advice on how to set up a Bard-behind-bars program. So has Jonathan Shailor, a communications professor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. And the Maine State Prison, after consulting with Bates last year, might begin its own Shakespeare program this summer.

Jack Heller, an English professor at Huntington University, founded the Pendleton program last fall after reading Bates’s book. He’d also previously spent six years volunteering in Kentucky prisons. Shakespeare, he says, is good for what ails any inmate.

“With Laura’s group, many of whom will never get out, it helps them see their own humanity,” he says, “and the humanity of people they’ve associated with, including their victims. For the men who eventually do get out, we can see that Shakespeare [greatly reduces] the recidivism rate. It’s time for people in the social sciences to start studying this and why it works.”

For Bates, it comes back to something Newton told her.

“He said he’d been through all sorts of programs in prison, and nothing worked. But Shakespeare did. Why? Because all those other programs start with the premise that you’re broken and need to be fixed—need to become another person. Shakespeare starts with the premise that you’re not broken if you can handle the language and grapple with the issues. Once you do, you can start to get past whatever personas you’ve been hiding behind and examine who you really are.

“And isn’t that,” she says with a smile, “what we all want to know?”

Saving Lives

Laura Bates and Larry Newton were reunited this April 23—Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. They spoke through a glass panel in the Pendleton SHU, where Newton is confined.

Newton was enthusiastic about the new Shakespeare program at Pendleton, modeled on the one Bates created in Supermax ten years ago. He said he’s come to believe that human nature is essentially good—and that Shakespeare has the power to change anyone, just as it did him.

“Some of the guys signed up because of what I told them about Shakespeare, how he saved my life,” he said. “And that made them want to do it too. That’s so cool, man!”

“You’re an innovator, Larry,” said Bates. “And you are saving lives.”

Edmund Spenser Poet Poetry Literature and Fiction



London, England, The United Kingdom

January 13, 1599






Edmund Spenser (c. 1552 – 13 January 1599) was an important English poet and Poet Laureate best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem celebrating, through fantastical allegory, the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I.

Though he is recognized as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, Spenser is also a controversial figure due to his zeal for the destruction of Irish culture and colonisation of Ireland.

December 1, 1589: English poet Edmund Spenser registered the first part of his epic, The Faerie Queene, for publication 425 years ago today.
Edmund Spenser

“For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.”
Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene
The Faerie Queene The Faerie Queene, Book One Edmund Spenser's Poetry Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves (Spenser's Faerie Queen, #1) The Faerie Queene, Book Two

Jonathan Swift Author Nonfiction Literature and Fiction Poetry



Jonathan Swift
Author profile

in Dublin, Ireland
November 30, 1667

October 19, 1745


Nonfiction, Literature & Fiction, Poetry

John Arbuthnot


Jonathan Swift was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for Whigs then for Tories), and poet, famous for works like Gulliver’s Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, The Drapier’s Letters, The Battle of the Books, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, and is less well known for his poetry. Swift published all of his works under pseudonyms — such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, M.B. Drapier — or anonymously. He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire; the Horatian and Juvenalian styles.


November 30, 2014

Satirist Jonathan Swift (born November 30, 1667), author of Gulliver’s Travels, was a founding member of the Scriblerus Club, along with fellow wit Alexander Pope. This literary society’s sole aim was to ridicule scholarly pretension.
Jonathan Swift

“Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.”
Jonathan Swift
“May you live every day of your life.”
Jonathan Swift
“Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.”
Jonathan Swift
“When a great genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”[Thoughts on Various Subjects]”
Jonathan Swift, Abolishing Christianity and Other Essays

“Books, the children of the brain.”
Jonathan Swift, A Tale Of A Tub And Other Writings
“We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.”
Jonathan Swift
“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”
Jonathan Swift
“I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.”
Jonathan Swift
“Every man desires to live long, but no man wishes to be old.”
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.”
Jonathan Swift
“Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.”
Jonathan Swift
“He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.”
Jonathan Swift
“Fine words! I wonder where you stole them.”
Jonathan Swift
“I cannot but conclude that the Bulk of your Natives, to be the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the Surface of the Earth.”
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
“Every dog must have his day.”
Jonathan Swift
“Proper words in proper places make the true definition of style.”
Jonathan Swift
“Undoubtedly, philosophers are in the right when they tell us that nothing is great or little otherwise than by comparison.”
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
“No wise man ever wished to be younger. ”
Jonathan Swift
“You should never be ashamed to admit you have been wrong. It only proves you are wiser today than yesterday”
Jonathan Swift
“For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery.”
Jonathan Swift
“There are few, very few, that will own themselves in a mistake.”
Jonathan Swift
“Happiness is the perpetual possession of being well deceived.”
Jonathan Swift
“If a man makes me keep my distance, the comfort is, he keeps his at the same time.”
Jonathan Swift
“And he gave it for his opinion, “that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.”
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
“The tiny Lilliputians surmise that Gulliver’s watch may be his god, because it is that which, he admits, he seldom does anything without consulting.”
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels
“Some men, under the notion of weeding out prejudice, eradicate virtue, honesty and religion.”
Jonathan Swift
“We of this age have discovered a shorter, and more prudent method to become scholars and wits, without the fatigue of reading or of thinking.”
Jonathan Swift
“Satire is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own; which is the chief reason for that kind reception it meets with in the world, and that so very few are offended with it.”
Jonathan Swift, The Battle of the Books and Other Short Pieces
“I have ever hated all nations, professions, and communities, and all my love is toward individuals: for instance, I hate the tribe of lawyers, but I love Counsellor Such-a-one, and Judge Such-a-one: so with physicians—I will not speak of my own trade—soldiers, English, Scotch, French, and the rest. But principally I hate and detest that animal called man, although I heartily love John, Peter, Thomas, and so forth. This is the system upon which I have governed myself many years, but do not tell…”
Jonathan Swift
“That was excellently observed’, say I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.”
Jonathan Swift
“The latter part of a wise person’s life is occupied with curing the follies, prejudices and false opinions they contracted earlier.”
Jonathan Swift