Nelson Mandela penned hundreds of letters to loved ones, followers, government officials, and prison authorities during the 27 years he was held as a political prisoner, and soon they’ll see the light of day.
Liveright Publishing, a division of W.W. Norton & Co., announced Tuesday that it will publish Mandela’s extensive prison correspondence in two separate editions: a single volume containing some 250 selected letters due in July 2018 (timed to the centenary of Mandela’s birth), and a more comprehensive two-volume collection to follow.
The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela will feature annotated facsimiles of some of Mandela’s letters and a foreword by his granddaughter Zamaswazi Dlamini-Mandela; Sahm Venter, a former Associated Press reporter who covered the future South African president’s release from prison in 1990, will serve as editor.
“This collection of letters reminds us of the exceptional pressures on Nelson Mandela to succumb to a system which aimed to wipe him from the public consciousness and which expected him to die a prisoner,” Venter said in the announcement. “His resilience and his determination, in the face of enormous odds, to maintain his dignity and authority throughout are apparent in this rich first-hand account of his life in prison.”
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Liveright acquired the rights to Mandela’s letters from the New Zealand-based publisher Blackwell & Ruth, which has a long association with Mandela and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.