Video: Seamus Heaney Reading at Baylor, March 4, 2013
Seamus Heaney was born in 1939 on his family's farm, Mossbawn, in County Derry, Ireland. After graduating in 1961 from Queen's University, Belfast, he earned a postgraduate teacher's diploma in 1962 from St. Joseph's College in Belfast and was appointed as a lecturer in English at the college the following year. He went on to teach at Queen's University, Belfast, the University of California, Berkeley, and Carysfort College in Dublin. From 1989 to 1994, he was Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, and from 1996 to 2006 he served as the Ralph Waldo Emerson Writer-in-Residence at Harvard University. He currently lives in Dublin, Ireland.
Described by Robert Lowell as "the most important Irish poet since Yeats," Heaney was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. His most recent collection of poems is Human Chain (2010). His other books of poetry include District and Circle (2006), which was deemed one of the "100 Best Books of the Decade" by The Times (London), Electric Light (2001), The Spirit Level (1996), Seeing Things (1991), The Haw Lantern (1987), Station Island (1984), Field Work (1979), North (1975), Wintering Out (1972), Door into the Dark (1969), and Death of a Naturalist (1966). His most recent collected edition is Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996 (1998). His books of non-fiction include Finders Keepers: Selected Prose 1971-2001 (2002), and he has translated such works as Beowulf (1999), Sophocles' Antigone (The Burial at Thebes, 2004) and Philoctetes (The Cure at Troy, 1990), The Testament of Cresseid & Seven Fables (2009) by the late medieval Scots poet Robert Henryson, and Sweeney Astray: A Version from the Irish (1983).
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Heaney has received the Somerset Maugham Award (1968), the E. M. Forster Award (1975), the T. S. Eliot Prize (2006), and two Whitbread Prizes (1996 and 1999). He has been a member of Aosd na, an Irish association of artists, since its foundation in 1981, and since 1997 he has held the title of Saoi, a lifetime designation conferred by the President of Ireland after election by the membership. In 1996, he was made a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French government, and the Griffin Trust For Excellence in Poetry honored him with its Lifetime Recognition Award in 2012. Heaney has received honorary degrees from institutions including Oxford University, Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, and Trinity College, Dublin. He also is a fellow of The British Academy and the Royal Irish Academy, a Companion of Literature in The Royal Society of Literature, and a foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.