Rare Heaney collection gives charity shop a record boost

Seamus Heaney's first poetry collection which was published in 1965. (1307MM23)
Seamus Heaney's first poetry collection which was published in 1965. (1307MM23)

The first published collection of poetry by Derry’s Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney has broken a fundraising record for an English charity shop.

The pamphlet, ‘Eleven Poems’,was published in 1965 and was the first collection of the St Columb’s College-educated poet’s work.

It was donated to Oxfam music and book shop on Nottingham’s Market Street along with another pamphlet ‘Ten Poems’, by fellow Irish poet, Michael Longley, by an anonymous donor.

Both pamphlets were later sold at auction for £3,500 - a record for the shop.

Staff at the charity shop have said they do not know who donated the rare pamphlets but added that they were “delighted” and “very grateful”.

The items had been valued at between £300 and £500 by valuers from auction house, Bonhams.

Dawn Nicholl, who works in the charity shop said; “Like most of our donations they just came through the door. Bonhams said you might be lucky, you might not.

“Obviously someone really wanted them so they made a lot more.”

The pamphlets were published by Festival Publications at Queen’s University, Belfast, in November 1965 and were the first collections of poetry from both poets. They went on to become literary giants.

The pair were friends at Queens and members of the so-called ‘Hobsbaum Group’ of poets, writers, and critics.

The Heaney collection is 16 pages long and contains eleven poems, some of which had previously been appeared in various literary magazines, including, ‘The Dublin Magazine,’ ‘New Statesman,’ and ‘Poetry.’

All of the poems in the pamhlet would later appear in the county Derry poet’s first widely-released collection, ‘Death of a Naturalist,’ except one poem, ‘Peter Street at Bankland’, which had been commissioned to be read at the foundation ceremony for the Lyric Theatre.

The pamphlets were festivals publications used by new poets to get their work more widely read.

Seamus Heaney won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1995 “for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth which exalt everyday miracles and the living past”, according to the citation.

He also won the Forward Prize for poetry last year for his latest collection, ‘Human Chain.’