ABSTRACT

In the late summer of 1913, two inmates of the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary were gazing out of the window of the isolation building. One of them, an older man in his late sixties with a drooping mustache, worked in the building writing articles for Good Words, the new prison newspaper. Writing also provided Julian Hawthorne with some protection from the darker side of prison life. Hawthorne had landed in the federal prison at the end of a long career as a writer. Even Hawthorne's poems about convict life were widely circulated. One newspaper, the Springfield Republican, read his poem "Footfalls" so carefully that it suggested Hawthorne might be guilty of some unintentional plagiarism. In late March, in the company of federal marshals, Hawthorne and Dr. William Morton traveled to the Atlanta penitentiary. Outside of prison Hawthorne rapidly produced a book on his stay in prison. Reflecting the fraternity he found among the inmates he called it the Subterranean Brotherhood.