Wole Soyinka - playwright, novelist, poet and polemical essayist - was born in Nigeria in 1934. He was educated at Government College, Ibadan and then at Leeds University, and worked in the British theatre before returning to Nigeria in 1960.
Soyinka's career as a political activist in exile is inseparable from his writing which has earned him worldwide acclaim. Soyinka's numerous plays include The Road, The Lion and the Jewel, Death and the King's Horseman and many others. His earlier prose work The Interpreters was awarded the Jock Campbell Prize for Commonwealth Literature. His collections of poetry include Idanre and Other Poems (1967) and A Shuttle in the Crypt (1972) were composed during a period of over two years in prison without trial, most of it in solitary confinement. He has also written two earlier autobiographical volumes, Ake: The Years of Childhood and Isara: A Voyage Around Essay, published in 1981 and 1990 respectively. In 1988 his collection of essays on literature and culture Art, Dialogue and Outrage was published.
He received a New Statesman John Whiting Award for 1966-7 and was Overseas Fellow at Churchill College Cambridge in 1973-4 where he wrote Death and the King's Horseman. He has been awarded the George Benson Medal for the Royal Society of Literature and the Unesco medal for the Arts. In 1986 he became the first African writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. He is currently Woodruff Professor of the Arts, Emory University, Atlanta.