Edith Bone (1889–1975), originally Edit Olga Hajós, was a medical professional, journalist and translator who later became a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain.
In 1949, Bone was acting as a free-lance correspondent in Budapest, affiliated with the London Daily Worker. When leaving Hungary, she was accused of spying for the British government, arrested by the State Protection Authority (AVH) and detained in solitary confinement without trial or a prisoner identification number for seven years. During her detention, Bone managed to avoid the mental instability or insanity that typically accompanies isolation. She developed a series of mental exercises, including reviews of geometry, the several languages she knew and vocabulary. She mentally reconstructed the plots of all of the books she had read, made a comprehensive list of all of the characters in Shakespeare she could remember, and made letters out of the dense black bread she was fed; out of these she composed poetry. Perhaps most stunning was the weeks-long effort she put into removing a very large nail from the iron-hard oak door of her cell. To accomplish this, she slowly removed single threads from towels and wove them into a solid rope with which to work the nail. After weeks of straining effort to get the nail to begin to wiggle and then loosen, she finally got the nail out. She then sharpened it on the concrete floor and used at as a drill to create a small peephole in her cell door so she could finally see out of her cell. She used these projects to keep her mind stimulated, to fill her time with goal-oriented actions, and to keep her sanity during her long period of extreme isolation.
Bone was freed during the last days of the revolutionary Nagy Government in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. A student group had seized control of the Budapest political prison where Bone was held, and processed political prisoners for release.
In an interview in Britain, following her release from prison, Bone was asked if she still believed in the benefits of Communism. She replied, "Alas, no!" And went on to describe how it failed the very people it claimed to serve: the workers.
- Seven Years Solitary. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1957; London: Pan Books, 1960.
- Bone, Edith. Seven Years Solitary, Hamish Hamilton, London: 1957.
- Bone, Edith. Hét év magánzárka Budapest: 2007.