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Bobby Sands personal writings from his time in prison. Bobby Sands was twenty-seven years old and had been on hunger strike for sixty-six days when he died on 5 May 1981. The young IRA volunteer was world-famous by the time of his death, having spent the last nine years of his short life in prison and been elected, while still a prisoner, to the British parliament. The hunger strike was aimed at rebutting the British government’s attempts to criminalise the struggle for Irish freedom by changing Sands’ and his fellow cellmates’ status from political to criminal. While behind bars, Sands secretly wrote on toilet paper and cigarette papers with the refill of a cheap pen that he kept hidden inside his body. These writings were then smuggled out of the prison. With dry humour, they chart a man’s attempt to preserve his identity against appalling beatings, unimaginable filth, freezing cold and numbing boredom. In poetry and prose, he vividly evokes the enclosed hell of Long Kesh, the harassment and the humiliatingly invasive searches. Bobby Sands was an Irish volunteer of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and member of the United Kingdom Parliament who died on hunger strike while in HM Prison Maze. He was the leader of the 1981 hunger strike in which Irish republican prisoners protested against the removal of Special Category Status. During his strike he was elected as a member of the United Kingdom Parliament as an Anti H-Block/Armagh Political Prisoner candidate. His death resulted in a new surge of IRA recruitment and activity. International media coverage brought attention to the hunger strikers, and the Republican movement in general, attracting both praise and criticism.

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