Jimmy Boyle

A Sense of Freedom
  • A Sense of Freedom

  • Foreword by Irvine Welsh

    'My life sentence had actually started the day I left my mother's womb...'

    Jimmy Boyle grew up in Glasgow’s Gorbals. All around him the world was drinking, fighting and thieving. To survive, he too had to fight and steal… Kids’ gangs led to trouble with the police. Approved schools led to Borstal, and Jimmy was on his way to a career in crime.

    By his twenties he was a hardened villain, sleeping with prostitutes, running shebeens and money-lending rackets. Then they nailed him for murder. The sentence was life – the brutal, degrading eternity of a broken spirit in the prisons of Peterhead and Inverness. Thankfully, Jimmy was able to turn his life around inside the prison walls and eventually released on parole.

    A Sense of Freedom is a searing indictment of a society that uses prison bars and brutality to destroy a man's humanity and at the same time an outstanding testament to one man's ability to survive, to find a new life, a new creativity, and a new alternative.

James ‘Jimmy’ Boyle was born 17 May 1944 in Gorbals, Glasgow, Scotland. Influenced by his harsh surroundings, Jimmy entered the world of crime as a youth. In 1967, he was given a life sentence for murder, a crime he didn’t commit. Clashes with authorities and solitary confinement ensued. But, in 1973, Jimmy was one of the first offenders to participate in a rehabilitation program that included art therapy, which awakened a major creative talent. After his parole in 1982, and thanks to the discovery of his artistic talents, including sculpture work, Jimmy became an acclaimed artist and one of Scotland's most reformed criminals. First published in 1977, A Sense of Freedom is Jimmy’s experience of youth in Gorbals, imprisonment as a young man and the courage to start life over again as a renowned sculpture artist.