Published in January of 1977, it embodied the character of the Czechoslovak population which silently protested against the communist government and resultant oppression, as well as providing a name for the movement. Václav Havel was one of the founders of this initiative, and one of its first three spokesmen. In April, 1979, he became a co-founder of the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted. He was imprisoned three times for his civic views, and spent nearly five years behind bars.
During this time, Czechoslovak authorities made it impossible to publish any of Havel's texts. Under the guidance of Havel's former literary agent, Klaus Juncker, the German publishing company Rowohlt, based in Reinbek near Hamburg, compliled a nearly complete publication of Havel's works.
In the second half of the 1980's, at a time of increasing dialogue between the Soviet Union and the Western Democracies, there was an perceptible increase in open dissatisfaction with the government in Czechoslovak society. The citizens became less willing to accept the repressive policies of the communist regime, which was seen in the willingness to sign the petition of "A Few Sentences", of which Havel was one of the authors. Whereas Charter 77 had only a few hundred signatories, ten thousand Czechoslovaks signed the Petition.