Birthplace: Belfast, Northern Ireland
One of many Northern Irish poets, Seamus Heaney being the most famous, whose emergence in the 1970s coincided with the region's political and sectarian troubles. Longley, born to English parents, was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and read Classics at Trinity College, Dublin. After stints as a schoolteacher in Dublin, London, and Belfast he went to work for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 1972, retiring in 1991. He made his mark with No Continuing City (1969) and An Exploded View (1973), poems that combined his Northern Irish sensibility with his classical education. The Echo Gate (1979) is regarded as his most important collection. Longley's mature work addresses the political and social troubles in Northern Ireland and the meaning of artistic identity. Gorse Fires (1991) won the Whitbread Prize for Poetry. The Weather in Japan (2000) won the Hawthornden Prize, the T. S. Eliot Prize, and the Irish Times Literary Prize for Poetry. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of Aosdána, an affiliation of artists supported by the Irish Arts Council, Longley is married to the critic Edna Longley. They live in County Mayo.