Born in Northern Ireland, torn between two different cultures, two languages and two religious and political traditions, he believes in the need to preserve Irish identity and thus he writes poems that are at the same time a 'digging' in search for his own Irish roots and metaphors of the struggle and division of his own country. In 1995 he won the Nobel Prize for literature "for works of Lyrical beauty and ethnic depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past".
The oldest of nine children, the Northern Irish Catholic poet Seamus Heaney was born in 1939 and raised on Mossbawn, the family farm in Country Derry, some 50 km from Belfast, Ulster. His Catholic land was adjoined by a Protestant estate and, as he himself later said, "I was symbolically placed between the marks of English influence and the lure of the native experience, between the 'demesne' and the 'bog'". Unlike most of his family, in 1957 he left the farm. He subsequently studied English Language and Literature at Queen's University, Belfast, and eventually became a university lecturer in English. In 1965 he married Marie Devlin, ho bore him three children. In 1966 he published Death of a Naturalist, his fisrt first book of poetry, which was at once very successful and earned him the Gregory Prize.
Among his best-known works we have:
- Death of a Naturalist.
- Door into the Dark.
- Wintering Out.
- Bog Poems.
- The Haw Lantern.