Buy A Prison Diary: Volume 1 – Hell Reprints by Jeffrey Archer (ISBN: ) from Amazon’s Book Store. Everyday low prices and free delivery on. Title: A Prison Diary Volume I: Belmarsh: Hell (The Prison Diaries) Author(s): Jeffrey Archer ISBN: / (UK edition) Publisher: . Jul 26, When Lord Archer published volume one of his prison diary, Belmarsh: Hell, in , the critical consensus was that ‘Jeff’,as he likes to be.

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According to an apocryphal story, Picasso was once asked to support a fund dedicated to getting Russian writers out gelmarsh Soviet prisons. They write better in prison, he is reported to have said. When Lord Archer published volume one of his prison diary, Belmarsh: Hellinthe critical consensus was that ‘Jeff’,as he likes to be known in the slammer, had surpassed himself.

That archwr scarcely a feat of literature, of course, but there’s no doubt that Jeff’s hour-by-hour account of his first few weeks of detention at Her Majesty’s pleasure, much of it in solitary confinement, had the journalistic virtue of being based on first-hand experience.

Hell (A Prison Diary, #1) by Jeffrey Archer

In this respect, Jeff, who takes his writing seriously, owes Mr Justice Potts, beljarsh gave him four years for srcher, a big thank you. Jeff never fails to tell his readers how much he loathes Mr Potts, but the judge actually put his prisoner into some fairly select company: Strictly speaking, Wodehouse was not ‘jailed’ but ‘interned’, but never mind. Jeff’s erstwhile colleagues in the upper house will find it instructive to see how he measures up to the challenge of chokey, and Jeff’s diary gives his readers a clear idea of how he will be conducting himself in the future.

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Hell was fuelled by Jeff’s indignation at his treatment ‘This is not Turkey, not Nigeria, not Kosovo,’ he spluttered and although it was neither De Profundis nor Pilgrim’s Progress it held out the intriguing belmarsg that a few months in the nick was going to do for Jeff’s prose what 30 years of ‘editing’, followed by dinner at the Caprice, had never managed to achieve.

Lord Archer’s true crime – Telegraph

Alas, in volume two, Jeff’s readers will discover that Picasso was right. Transferred from the inferno of Belmarsh to the sweeter regime of Wayland prison in far Norfolk, Jeff loses the plot. His prose, still just on speaking terms with the English language, reverts to an almost comic banality.

Prison is a monotonous and humiliating experience which generally inspires writers to introspection. Although, impressively, he writes first thing every day, with the persistence of an asylum-seeker learning a foreign tongue, his diary chiefly reveals Jeff’s hidden shallows.

Apart from his portrait of Dale wounding with intent to endanger life aka ‘Big Mac’, he shows little interest in the lives of his fellows, and they, in turn, treat him as if he has just wandered in from the Lords. As a celebrity whose ups and downs are reported in the Sun, and as a millionaire who can afford to have his daily jottings typed up every 10 days by Alison and sent to his long-suffering literary agent, he is not your average category-C prisoner.

Wayland eludes Jeff’s pen because he so plainly has another, outside, life to lead. Almost from the first, he is fretting about the troubles he has left behind: How can he revenge himself on Emma Nicholson? How should Mary handle the Today programme? When he meets ‘Sergio’, whose mother is a friend of the Latin-American artist Fernando Botero, he is thrilled: All at once, life in Wayland has a purpose.


Can he, through Sergio, acquire a valuable Botero?

In case the market aka the velmarsh has missed the significance of this potential acquisition, Jeff’s publishers helpfully provide a colourful Botero reproduction in a lavish plate-section. Indeed, the most vivid pictures in Jeff’s diary are the glossy reproductions of the pencil sketches made by Shaun, another inmate.

Prose and cons

Thin on the human side of doing time, Jeff’s diary is positively threadbare when it comes to his favourite subject: Is he a changed man? Jeff’s diary, a laugh-free zone, does have this one Wodehousean quality: Jeff’s resilience in the face of adversity is what he wants to advertise to the Tory faithful, for whom ‘character’ has always been more important arcyer integrity.

If prison is supposed to bring the miscreant face to face with himself, then this diary tells us that, behind the mask, there’s only a loud voice with nothing much to say. Stripped of its wide margins and portentous typography, Jeff’s diary is, at best, an over-inflated magazine article or, at worst, a diary item.

With a few more pictures, it might even have made a nice piece in Hello! But no, Jeff’s saving that for volume three. Let it never be said that Jeffrey Archer did not redeem himself. Topics Jeffrey Archer The Observer.