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“Death of a Naturalist” at 50

On Tuesday 8th March, Dr Rosie Lavan from the School of English held an undergraduate class in the reading room. The students were examining twentieth-century material relating to Seamus Heaney, partly for their course work and partly in preparation for one of the first student-curated small exhibitions in the Long Room. This exhibition marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Death of a Naturalist, Seamus Heaney’s first collection of poetry.

Since then, the students have come in individually to select the content and, on 5th April, the chosen items went to the Conservation Laboratory for Clodagh Neligan to effect any necessary repairs and prepare stands. The display was installed on 5th May by Dr Lavan and three students, under the supervision of Dr Lydia Ferguson from the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections. The curators had to think on their feet when they found that they had too many items for the space – a perennial problem when there is so much lovely material from which to choose!

To accompany the exhibition, students who have been involved in preparing it have been reflecting on some of the publications it features. Here, Megan Oliver, a third-year student of English and History, and Clare Ní Cheallaigh, who has just completed her degree in English and Classics, consider the personal, political, and literary implications of the appearance of two poems by Seamus Heaney in Young Commonwealth Poets ’65 (1965) an anthology edited by P. L. Brent. HereAnna D’Alton, who has just finished her degree in English, and Virginie Trachsler, who is writing her Master’s thesis on Heaney and Eavan Boland at the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, consider Heaney in the press.

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