The failure of the attack eventually landed Castro in prison. Naty Revuelta sustained his morale by sending him books, including a copy of Somerset Maugham’s Cakes and Ale with its cover replaced by a picture of a portrait of her. She also posted him her favourite poem, Kipling’s If, and an envelope filled with sand to remind him of the beach. “Despite the distance,” she wrote, “you are very good company.”
In his turn, Castro penned letters to her which, though necessarily guarded as they had to undergo censorship, revealed some of his rarely seen private passions. “I am on fire,” he told her in 1954. “Write to me, for I cannot be without your letters. I love you very much.” He asked her to stop using a typewriter, so that he could see her handwritten script – “so delicate, feminine, unmistakable”.
At the same time, however, he was also writing to his wife, Mirta Diaz-Balart. One day – perhaps through mischief-making by the prison governor – she received an envelope intended for Revuelta and vice versa.