Skip to Content


Queen’s announce Oliver Jeffers, Marian Keyes, and Enda Walsh as the next Seamus Heaney Fellows

The Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast has announced the appointment of Oliver Jeffers, Marian Keyes, and Enda Walsh as the Seamus Heaney Centre Fellows for 2020 – 21.

Lanyon Building at Queen's University Belfast

Each year, the Seamus Heaney Centre announces three Fellows from the worlds of Poetry, Fiction, Music, Film and Television to explore creative writing in all its forms by working with students, and contributing to the Centre’s activities within the University and the wider literary community.

Oliver Jeffers is an artist and author working in painting, bookmaking, illustration, collage, performance and sculpture. Curiosity and humour are underlying themes throughout Oliver’s practice as an artist and storyteller. His engagements and practice are truly international in scope. His critically acclaimed picture books are translated into over forty languages, selling over ten million copies worldwide. His original artwork has been exhibited at New York’s Brooklyn Museum, Dublin’s Irish Museum of Modern Art, London’s National Portrait Gallery and Vienna’s Palais Auersperg. Oliver has received numerous awards, including a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award, Bologna Rigazzi Award, an Irish Book Award, and a UK Literary Association Award. He releases his eighteenth book as author and illustrator, What We'll Build, in October 2020, and has illustrated several others. Oliver grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland; he currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Marian Keyes is the international bestselling author of fourteen novels including Watermelon, Rachel's Holiday, Sushi for Beginners, This Charming Man, and The Break. With a chatty conversational style and whimsical Irish humour, but themes including alcoholism, depression, addiction, cancer, bereavement, and domestic violence her novels have sold over 40 million copies worldwide and been translated into 36 languages. Her latest novel, Grown Ups, was published in February 2020. Marian currently lives in Dún Laoghaire with her husband, after returning to Ireland from London in 1997.

Speaking about the appointment, Marian Keyes said: “Creative writing is a challenging, and sometimes lonely experience.  Having been writing professionally for 26 years, I have a lot of experience to offer in terms of the nuts and bolts of writing - dialogue, plotting and especially characterisation.  I also understand the emotions that go with creative writing – the excitement, the aspirations, the acute self-doubt.  

“The fellowship is a great resource for creative writing students to have published writers to connect with, and the three fellows for 2020-21 offer wonderful diverse skills and experience.

“For me personally, it’s an honour, and very exciting to be able to assist in another writer’s process.  I am extremely proud to be a Fellow at the Seamus Heaney Centre.”

Enda Walsh is a Tony and multi award-winning Irish playwright and director. His work has been translated into over 20 languages and has been performed internationally since 1998. His recent plays include Sing Street (2019); an adaptation of Max Porter’s Grief is the Thing with Feathers (2018) for Complicité in association with Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival; The Same (2017), produced by Corcadorca; Lazarus (2016) with David Bowie; Arlington (2016), Ballyturk (2014), Misterman (2012), all co-produced by Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival; and, with Donnacha Dennehy, the operas, The Last Hotel (2015) and The Second Violinist (2017) for Landmark Productions and Irish National Opera. In an ongoing project he has made six installations, called collectively ‘Rooms’, with Paul Fahy and GIAF: Room 303, A Girl’s Bedroom, A Kitchen, Bathroom, Office 33A, Waiting Room and Changing Room. In 2014, he received an honorary doctorate from NUI Galway.

Welcoming the new appointments, Professor Glenn Patterson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s said: “It is with enormous pleasure, and excitement, that we announce Oliver Jeffers, Marian Keyes and Enda Walsh as the 2021 Seamus Heaney Centre Fellows. Our students, the whole university body, and indeed the wider literary community, will benefit tremendously from their presence, from their experience and globally recognized excellence as writers. I can’t wait for January.”

Previous Seamus Heaney Centre Fellows have included musicians Iain Archer and Duke Special, novelists Jo Baker, Anna Burns and Lucy Caldwell, poets Vahni Capildeo and Doireann Ni Ghriofa, and screenwriters Lisa McGee and Jed Mercurio. Anna Burns, who was a Fellow in 2019-20, has extended her Fellowship into the autumn.

The new Fellows will officially take up their posts in the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s in the new year.



Media inquiries to Zara McBrearty at Queen’s Communications Office on T: 07795676858 or email: