We are delighted to welcome to the Belfast Book Festival one of Ireland’s greatest living historians and literary biographers, Roy Foster.
This event is centred on his recent book, On Seamus Heaney, which is a vivid and original account of one of Ireland's greatest poets. Built on access to papers from the Seamus Heaney Estate, the book was published by Princeton University Press in 2020 to excellent reviews.
"Roy Foster's insightful and accessible study of Seamus Heaney deftly intertwines a fluent account of the poet's life with illuminating analyses of his work." Cliona Ni Riordain, Irish Times
This readable, concise, and well-crafted book gives us new glimpses into Heaney by an acclaimed Irish historian and an author personally familiar with Heaney at the University of Oxford, where he attended his Lectures in poetry. Roy was Carroll Professor of Irish History for over two decades, overlapping with Heaney’s time as Professor of Poetry. He is the author of multiple books including the magisterial two-volume biography W.B. Yeats: A Life and The Standard Modern Ireland, 1600–1972.
Joining Foster to discuss and read Heaney’s work is actor Ian McElhinnney.
Ian grew up in Belfast and went on to study at Brandeis University, Massachusetts. After working as a teacher he became an actor and featured in a number of roles at the Lyric Players Theatre in Belfast, Dublin’s Abbey Theatre and with Field Day Theatre Company (in plays by Heaney’s colleague Brian Friel). McElhinney has appeared in many, many films and television shows of note and is particularly recognized for his roles as Barristan Selmy in Game of Thrones and, wonderfully, as Granda Joe in Derry Girls.
Chairing the discussion is Dr Connal Parr, who is Senior Lecturer in History at Northumbria University and has published widely on politics and culture in Northern Ireland.
Looking to buy a book by one of the writers involved in this year's programme? Check out our official Festival Bookstore partner, No Alibi’s, who have created this special Belfast Book Festival page on their website which features the books and collections of the writers at the 2021 Festival. Plus they are offering a 10% discount on all of the Festival titles!