Seamus Heaney is one of the great poets of the 20th and 21st centuries, bringing a classical training and influence together with modern and individual freshness to poetry. He was born in the countryside of Northern Ireland on April 13, 1939, at a farm called Mossbawn. The Heaney family was Irish Catholic, and much of Heaney's education took place at Catholic schools, were he gained proficiency in English, Gaelic, and Latin. Heaney graduated from Queen's University of Belfast, with honors, in English Language and Literature. He then began simultaneously to teach at various schools and publish his early poetry. Ever since, he has been on demand as a professor and lecturer at a range of colleges from Berekely in California to Oxford to his alma mater, Queen's University. As for his poetry, Heaney has been widely read and awarded since his first major publications, Eleven Poems and The Death of a Nationalist, appeared in 1965 and 1966. His poetry reveals his love for the English language, not only in his personal works but also in translations like the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf. At the heart of Heaney's work remains his Northern Irish birthplace of Derry and the memories of his family. In 1995, Heaney was honored with the Nobel Prize in Literature, followed closely by two Whitebread Book of the Year awards for The Spirit Level and Beowulf.
On August 30, 2013, at age 74, Seamus Heaney passed away from complications of a stroke he suffered in 2006. He is survived by his wife, the writer Marie Devlin, with whom he raised two sons and a daughter.
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