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RIP Seamus Heaney 1939-2013

The Irish writer and poet Seamus Heaney has died after a short illness. He was 74 and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. Heaney was born in 1939 in County Derry, Northern Ireland, and studied at Queen’s University in Belfast, before training as a teacher. He settled in Dublin but also worked in the US.

The poet Simon Armitage said: “I’ll remember him both as a poet and a person – an incredibly generous and open man. He was a great ambassador for poetry and I think that’s recognised almost worldwide. People only had good things to say about his courtesy and his integrity. I remember once being in a pub with him in Shropshire – he was a superstar in the world of literature but in that pub he was like a guy from the village. He just sat there in the corner chatting way.”

Heaney’s first book was called Death of a Naturalist, and was published in 1966. He gave up teaching in 1972 to become a full-time writer.

Other notable titles include Wintering Out (1972), North (1975), Station Island (1984), Seeing Things (1991), District and Circle (2006) and Human Chain (2010).

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