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Wole Soyinka


Wole Soyinka was born in 1934 in Abeokuta in the West of Nigeria. Both his parents were teachers. After school, he attended the University of Ibadan and the University of Leeds, where he received a degree in English literature. He started work on an M.A. but gave it up to go into theatre, starting off as a reader for the Royal Court. He wrote a series of plays which were produced in London and in Nigeria. He also directed and acted in his own plays and the plays of others. He also worked as a lecturer in Nigerian universities. He was critical of the Nigerian government and, in 1967, was imprisoned for being sympathetic to Biafra and stayed in prison for more than two years. He continued to write plays as well as writing poetry, two well-received novels, notes on his stay in prison and an autobiography. In 1986 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He left Nigeria in 1994 and was tried in absentia and sentenced to death for treason but was able to return in 1998.

Books about Wole Soyinka

Bankole Olayebi (ed.): WS A Life In Full

Other links

Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka (1934-)
Profile of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka
A Dramatic Life
Wole Soyinka – Nobel Lecture
England is ‘cesspit’ breeding Islamists, says Soyinka
Wole Soyinka attacks BBC portrayal of Lagos ‘pit of degradation’


1958 The Swamp Dwellers (drama)
1959 The Lion and the Jewel (drama)
1960 The Trials of Brother Jero (drama)
1963 A Dance of the Forests (drama)
1965 The Interpreters (novel)
1965 Before the Blackout (drama)
1965 Kongi’s Harvest (drama)
1965 The Road (drama)
1965 The Detainee (radio play)
1967 The Writer in a Modern African State
1967 Idanre and Other Poems
1969 Poems from Prison
1970 Madmen and Specialists (drama)
1972 The Man Died – Prison Notes of Wole Soyinka
1972 A Shuttle in the Crypt (poetry)
1972 Ogun Abibiman (poetry)
1973 Season of Anomy (novel)
1976 Death and the King’s Horseman
1981 Aké: The Years of Childhood (autobiography)
1981 The Critic and Society: Barthes, Leftocracy, and Other Mythologies
1981 Opera Wonyosi, an adaptation of Brecht’s Three Penny Opera
1982 Cross Currents: The ‘New African’ after Cultural Encounters
1983 Shakespeare and the Living Dramatist
1984 A Play of Giants (drama)
1985 Climates of Art
1985 Requiem for a Futurologist
1986 The External Encounter: Ambivalence in African Arts and Literature
1987 Six Plays
1987 Childe internationale
1988 Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems
1989 Isara: A Voyage around Essay (autobiography)
1990 Myth, Literature and the African World
1991 The Credo of Being and Nothingness
1992 From Zia With Love
1994 Ibadan – the Penkelemes Years – a Memoir 1946 – 1965
1994 Art, Dialogue, and Outrage: Essays on Literature and Culture
1995 The Beatification of Area Boy
1996 The Open Sore of a Continent: A Personal Narrative of the Nigerian Crisis
1998 Early Poems
1999 The Burden of Memory, The Muse of Forgiveness
1999 Arms and the Arts : a Continent’s Unequal Dialogue
2000 The Seven Signposts of Existence: Knowledge, Honor, Justice and Other Virtues
2001 Selected Poems
2001 The Black Man and the Veil: Beyond the Berlin Wall
2002 Salutation to the Gut
2002 Samarkand and Other Markets I have Known (poetry)
2002 Nigeria’s Transition to Democracy: Illusions and Realities
2002 King Baabu (drama)
2003 The Deceptive Silence of Stolen Voices
2004 Climate of Fear
2005 The Invention & The Detainee (drama)
2006 You Must Set Forth At Dawn: A Memoir
2010 New Imperialisms (lecture)
2012 Of Africa (non-fiction)
2015 Reimagining Pan-Africanism : distinguished Mwalimu Nyerere lecture series 2009-2013
2015 InterInventions: Between Defective Memory and the Public Lie, A Personal Odyssey in the Republic of Liars
2019 Beyond Aesthetics: Use, Abuse, and Dissonance in African Art Traditions
2021 Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth (novel)
2023 The Putin Files (non-fiction)