Seamus Heaney dies

Seamus Heaney dies

The death of Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney has been confirmed.

The Irish poet, who was 74, died in hospital in Dublin this morning (30th August) following a short illness.

Heaney received numerous prizes during his career, including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995, the 2010 Forward Poetry Prize (for his collection Human Chain) and the 2009 David Cohen British Literature Prize.

In a statement, Heaney's publisher Faber said: "We cannot adequately express our profound sorrow at the loss of one of the world's greatest writers. His impact on literary culture is immeasurable. As his publisher we could not have been prouder to publish his work over nearly 50 years. He was nothing short of an inspiration to the company, and his friendship over many years is a great loss."

Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page told The Bookseller: "The simple truth is that he was an inspirational person to know and to work with. He wasn't just a writer that we were indescribably proud to publish, he was a friend. He was inspiring to many generations of people at Faber, no less now than 40 years ago."

Judith Palmer, director of the Poetry Society, said: "We're stunned by the news. That there'll be no more of Seamus's poetry is hard to accept. But we've also just lost an incredibly warm and generous man. He was a great man, with a great mind, yet he was always approachable, and always took the time to support others. We've been very lucky, for so long, to have had a poet of such powers, whose work could speak so directly to people of all ages and backgrounds; and a poet, too, who could speak of our islands to the world. There's no question that Heaney will be one of the enduring voices of the century."

Chris Holifield, director of the Poetry Book Society, commented: "It is a great loss to the poetry world. Seamus has been a towering figure whose poetry has been a powerful inspiration for us all and who has generously offered encouragement to young writers."

Jonathan Ruppin at Foyles said: "He is one of those great writers who's always been there. Literature doesn't necessarily have that many legendary, living figures, so his passing is a significant moment. As well as being a great writer in his own right, he was a wonderful spokesman for poetry, turning many people on to the art form who may not have otherwise tried it, whether it was a student reading him at school or someone picking up his latest prize-winner out of curiosity." Chris Prince of The Poetry Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye said: "It is sad news, as he was a hugely popular poet – one of the few poets who became known outside the world of poetry."

Maurice Riordan, editor of Poetry Review, commented: "Seamus Heaney was the great poet of our time, the one most equal to its history, in Ireland and elsewhere. His poems, in a phrase he liked himself to borrow from Yeats, were often ‘befitting emblems of adversity’. His death is a great personal loss for his family and friends. It’s a great loss, too, to a vast community of poets and writers, and people who simply loved his poetry. For many he was like a father or an elder brother, resourceful and inventive in his care for people. He was a friend to presidents and celebrities, but also attentive to the person in the street asking for his autograph or for a book to be signed. His poems will live on, loved by many, and will indeed be loved by readers not yet born. Today the man is gone, the voice, the hearty laugh, the generous embrace. It’s the felling of a great oak."

Heaney's bestselling work of recent years was his 2002 volume Beowulf: A New Translation (over 100,000 copies via Nielsen BookScan).