1944 – He was born on a U.S. Army base in Michigan on January 21, 1944. 1960 – At the age of sixteen he was sent to a reform school.
1965 – At the age of twenty-one, Jack Abbott was serving a sentence for forgery in a Utah prison when he stabbed a fellow inmate to death. He was given a sentence of three to twenty years for this offense.
1971 – His sentence was increased by a further nineteen years after he escaped and committed a bank robbery in Colorado. Behind bars he was troublesome and often refused to obey guards’ orders. He spent a great deal of time in solitary confinement.
1977 – He read that author Norman Mailer was writing about convicted killer Gary Gilmore. Abbott wrote to Mailer and offered to write about his time behind bars and the conditions he was experiencing. Mailer agreed and helped to publish In the Belly of the Beast, a book on life in the prison system consisting of Abbott’s letters to Mailer.
1980 – Abbott was released on parole in June 1980. He went to New York City and was the toast of the literary scene for a short while. On the morning of July 18, just six weeks after getting out of prison, Jack Abbott went to a small cafe called the Binibon in Manhattan. He clashed with 22-year-old Richard Adan, son-in-law of the restaurant’s owner, over Adan’s telling him the restroom was for staff only. The short-tempered Abbott stabbed Adan in the chest, killing him. The very next day, unaware of Abbott’s crime, the New York Times ran a positive review of The Belly of the Beast.
1982 – He was convicted of manslaughter and given fifteen years to life. Apart from the advance fee of $12,500, Abbott did not receive any profits from The Belly of the Beast, as Richard Adan’s widow successfully sued him for $7.5 million in damages, which meant she received all the money from the book’s sales.
1987 – Abbott published another book titled My Return, which was not a success. It contained a great deal of self-pity, but no remorse for his crimes. In fact, Abbott blamed his crimes on the prison system and the government and said he wanted an apology from society for the way he had been treated.
2001 – He appeared before the parole board, but his application was turned down because of his failure to express remorse and his lengthy criminal record and disciplinary problems in prison.
2002 – On February 10, 2002, Jack Abbott hanged himself in his prison cell using a makeshift noose constructed from his bedsheets and shoelaces. He left a suicide note, whose contents have not been made public.