Storm on the Island
Seamus Heaney was born in Northern Ireland in 1939, the eldest child in what was to become a family of nine children. His father farmed 50 acres in rural County Derry and was a cattle dealer. Much of Heaney's poetry is centred on the countryside and farm life that he knew as a boy. He won a scholarship to the Catholic boarding school, St Columb's College, Derry, forty miles from home: he was here when his younger brother Christopher was killed, as described in Mid-Term Break.
He studied at Queen's University, Belfast and spent some years teaching. In 1965 he married Marie Devlin, and went on to lecture on poetry at his old university, Queen's, for six years (1966 - 72).
In the 1960s he belonged to a group of poets who, he said, used to talk poetry day after day. He has written many collections of poetry, the first of which was published in 1966. His later works capitalise on his knowledge of Latin, Anglo-Saxon and Gaelic and explore words and their significance. His translation of Beowulf, an Old English narrative [narrative: The sequence of events in a plot; a story. ] poem, was published in 1999.
In 1982 he began teaching for one semester a year at Harvard University in the USA. He was appointed Professor of Poetry at Oxford University in 1989 and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995.
He has lived with his family in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland since 1976.