The School Bag - edited by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney as a companion to their enormously popular The Rattle Bag - is an exhilarating introduction for any student of poetry.
Seamus Heaney was born in 1939 in County Derry in Northern Ireland. He grew up in the country, on a farm, in touch with a traditional rural way of life, which he wrote about in his first book Death of a Naturalist (1966). He attended the local school and in 1951 went as a boarder to St Columb's College, about 40 miles away in Derry (the poem 'Singing School' in North refers to this period of his life). In 1956 he went on a scholarship to Queen's University, Belfast and graduated with a first class degree in English Language and Literature in 1961. After a year as a post-graduate at a college of education, and a year teaching in a secondary modern school in Ballymurphy, he was appointed to the staff of St Joseph's College of Education. In 1966 Seamus Heaney took up a lecturing post in the English Department of Queen's University, and remained there until 1972, spending the academic year 1970-71 as a visiting Professor at the University of California in Berkeley.