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Irish Times columnist Fintan O'Toole appointed as Seamus Heaney biographer

Irish Times columnist Fintan O'Toole who has been appointed as official biographer of Co Derry Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney
Marie Louise McConville

The family of Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney has "wholeheartedly" welcomed the appointment of an official biographer.

Fintan O'Toole, an Irish Times columnist for almost 30 years, has been commissioned to write the official biography of the Co Derry-born poet and playwright.

Mr O'Toole, who this year has won the Orwell Prize for Journalism, the European Press Prize Commentator Award and Broadsheet Columnist of the Year at the Newsbrands Ireland Journalism Awards, has also written a number of books, including studies of playwrights Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Tom Murphy, and most recently Judging Shaw, a biography of George Bernard Shaw.

He will now focus on the life of Ireland's Nobel Prize-winning poet, who died in August 2013 after a career spanning seven decades.

Mr Heaney's son, Michael said the family "wholeheartedly" welcomed the appointment of Mr O'Toole as biographer.

"We have long been great admirers of Fintan’s astute and wide-ranging work – as was my father – whether as a critic, a biographer or an observer of Irish society, so when he approached us with his proposal for a biography, we felt he was uniquely qualified to chronicle the life and work in a new light," he said.

"We look forward to helping Fintan in working on this new biography, which enjoys the approval and co-operation of the Heaney family".

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