1. Seamus Heaney
(1939 - )
'...for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past' – citation for Seamus Heaney, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1995.
Seamus Heaney was born near Castledawson, County Derry. In 1961, he graduated from Queen's University, Belfast, returning there in 1966 as a lecturer. Since 1985, he has enjoyed poetry professorships at Oxford and Harvard.
His first book was Eleven Poems, which appeared in 1965. Death of a Naturalist followed in 1966, which established his reputation. Much of his work is rooted in Northern Irish rural life, although he has embarked on wider social and political issues such as The Government of the Tongue (1988), where he questioned the role of poetry in modern society. Heaney is definitely an Irish poet, not a British one, as he so eloquently wrote: 'Be advised! My passport's green. / No glass of ours was ever raised! To toast The Queen'.
Over the years he has worked on translations, which add a further dimension to his poetry. These have included Sweeney Astray (1983), The Cure at Troy (1991), and Beowulf (1999). In 2003 he won the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin. The award is the largest annual cash prize for literary criticism in the English language.
Books of his on display include: Wintering Out (1972), Selected Poems 1965-75 (1980), Death of a Naturalist (1980), Pre-occupations: Selected Prose 1968-78 (1980), North (1981), Sweeney Astray (1983), Station Island (1984), The Haw Lantern (1987), The Government of the Tongue (1988), New Selected Poems 1966-1987 (1990), The Cure at Troy (1990), Seeing Things (1991), The Redress of Poetry (1995), Open Ground Poems 1966-1996 (1998), Beowulf (1999), The Midnight Verdict (2000), and Finders Keepers: Selected Prose 1971-2001 (2002).