Nigerian by birth, Soyinka studied in both Nigeria and the UK. His political views have led to periods in exile and a stay in prison with the prospect of a death sentence.  A playwright, novelist, essayist and editor as well as poet, he is known for battling against tyranny both in Nigeria and more widely.  Soyinka has been both a resident and visiting professor at academic institutions in Nigeria, the UK and the USA. His work in theatre led to an appointment as Dramaturgist at the Royal Court theatre in London and he founded the theatre group ‘The 1960s Masks’.  Soyinka has written many plays, memoirs and two novels. Some of his essays are collected in Myth, Literature and the African World (1975).  He is President and Founder of the Woyle Soyinka Foundation donating many artefacts to the organisation. 

Soyinka is the recipient of many awards and prizes, including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. The Swedish Academy cited the ‘sparkling vitality’ and ‘moral structure’ of his work and praised him as one ‘who in a wide cultural perspective with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence.’ Myth, heritage, meditation, satire and politics combine in his work.   


Poems by Wole Soyinka

‘Idanre’ for BBC 100 - Wole Soyinka

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