Literature Research Guide: Nobel Prize Winners

This guide highlights resources available from the McClelland Library to anyone researching the four Irish Nobel Prize in Literature Winners. The McClelland Library owns many titles by these very well known writers and can be found by searching our catalog. 

  • William Butler Yeats-1923 (year awarded) 
  • George Bernard Shaw-1925 
  • Samuel Beckett-1969 
  • Seamus Heaney-1995 
dublin in 1916

William Butler Yeats (1923) 

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1923 was awarded to William Butler Yeats “for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.” 


Early Poems by W.B. Yeats 

Call Number: 821.8 Y34e Publication Date: 1993

Rich selection of 134 poems published between 1889 and 1914: “Lake Isle of Innisfree,” “When You Are Old,” “Down by the Salley Gardens,” “The Stolen Child,” “Fergus and the Druid,” “To the Rose upon the Rood of Time,” “The Song of Wandering Aengus,” many more. 

“Easter, 1916” and Other Poems by W.B. Yeats 

Call Number: 821.8 Y34e Publication Date: 1997

The greatest modern Irish poet describes the aftermath of his country’s 1916 Easter Rebellion against the British in the famous title poem. 

Selected Poems and Four Plays of William Butler Yeats by W.B. Yeats; edited by M.L. Rosenthal 

Call Number: 821.8 Y34s 1996 Publication Date: 1996

Since its first appearance in 1962, M. L. Rosenthal’s classic selection of Yeats’s poems and plays has attracted hundreds of thousands of readers. This newly revised edition includes 211 poems and 4 plays. 

The Tower: A Facsimile Edition by W.B. Yeats; introduction by Richard J. Finneran

Call Number: 821.8 Y34t Publication Date: 2004

This facsimile edition reproduces exactly that seminal first edition as it reached its earliest audience in 1928, adding an introduction and notes by esteemed Yeats scholar Richard J. Finneran. Written between 1912 and 1927, these poems (“Sailing to Byzantium,” “Leda and the Swan,” and “Among School Children” among them) are today considered some of the best and most famous in the entire Yeats canon. 

Yeats: Romantic Visionary by W.B. Yeats 

Call Number: 821.8 Y34y 1999 Publication Date: 1999

A collection of poems by Irish poet William Butler Yeats which are accompanied by a selection of paintings by Yeats’ brother Jack.


W.B. Yeats: A Life by R.F. Foster 

Call Number: BIO Yeats, W. Publication Date: 1997-2003

In the first authorized biography of W. B. Yeats in over fifty years, Foster sheds new light on one of the most complex and fascinating lives of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Working from a great archive of personal and contemporary material, he dramatically alters traditional perceptions to illuminate the poet’s family history, relationships, politics and art. 

W.B. Yeats: The Man and the Milieu by Keith Alldritt 

Call Number: BIO Yeats, W. Publication Date: 1997

Keith Alldritt gives us a lively telling of Yeats’s story that puts the poet in the context of his times, from the high Victorian era to the modernism of the thirties. The author was given special access to Yeats’s private papers in the National Library of Ireland and interviewed people who knew Yeats, including Yeats’s daughter, Anne.

W.B. Yeats: A New Biography by A. Norman Jeffares 

Call Number: REF BIO Yeats, W. 1989 Publication Date: 1989

This volume is a re-issue of the revised edition that was to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the poet’s death. Included is an account of Yeats’s life and work, together with a collection of letters, photography and poetry. 

Other Works:

The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore by W.B. Yeats 

Call Number: 398 Y34c Publication Date: 2004

Rooted in myth, occult mysteries, and belief in magic, these stories are populated by a lively cast of sorcerers, fairies, ghosts, and nature spirits. The great Irish poet heard these enchanting, mystical tales from Irish peasants, and the stories’ anthropologic significance is matched by their timeless entertainment value. 

Mythologies by W.B. Yeats 

Call Number: REF 828.8 Y34m Publication Date: 1959

Mythologies is the definitive edition of W.B. Yeats’s folklore & early prose fiction, edited according to Yeats’s final textual instructions. This is a must-have for any fan of Yeats. 

Short Fiction by W.B. Yeats 

Call Number: FIC Yeats, W Publication Date: 1995

Yeats’s short fiction, rich in metaphor and symbolism, is preoccupied, like his poetry, with “the war of spiritual with natural order.” This collection contains his best short fiction. Included is his short novel, “John Sherman”, all of the stories in The Secret Rose, and the companion stories “The Tables of the Law” and “The Adoration of the Magi.” 

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George Bernard Shaw (1925) 

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1925 was awarded to George Bernard Shaw “for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty.” 


George Bernard Shaw’s plays: Mrs Warren’s Profession, Pygmalion, Man and Superman, Major Barbara by George Bernard Shaw; edited by Sandie Byrne Call Number: 822.912 Sh262g 1970 Publication Date: 1970

In this Norton critical edition, each of the four plays are fully annotated. The contexts and criticism section features all-new material on the author, and his work, from traditional critical readings to more theorized approaches. 

George Bernard Shaw: Selected Philosophical Plays and Prefaces by George Bernard Shaw 

Call Number: 822.912 Sh26g Publication Date: 2012

This book includes some of Shaw’s most poetic, political, philosophical and religious plays: “Candida”; Selections from “Man and Superman;” “John Bull’s Other Island;” Selections from “Back to Methuselah;” and “St. Joan.” 

Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw 

Call Number: REF 822.912 Sh262m Publication Date: 1962

Shaw began writing “Man and Superman” in 1901 and was determined to write a play that would encapsulate the new century’s intellectual inheritance. In this powerful drama of ideas, Shaw explores the role of the artist, the function of women in society, and his theory of Creative Evolution.


An Unsocial Socialist by George Bernard Shaw 

Call Number: FIC Shaw, B. Publication Date: 2012

With the leading male character, Sidney Trefusis, Shaw presented for the first time his view on what the relationship between the sexes should be. Irresistibly entertaining, An Unsocial Socialist is a brilliant satire on social prejudice from a great author. 


Cheerio, Titan: The Friendship between George Bernard Shaw and Eileen and Sean O’Casey by Eileen O’Casey 

Call Number: BIO Shaw, B. Publication Date: 1989

Eileen O’Casey shows readers for the first time the extent of their friendship and describes Shaw’s strong support of Sean O’Casey’s work. Letters including some previously unpublished are quoted from Shaw, O’Casey, Yeats and Lady Gregory. 

Shaw, George versus Bernard by J.P. Hackett

Call Number: BIO Shaw, B. Publication Date: 1937

Chapters range from the Shaw’s coming to Ireland, growing up in Dublin in the 1860s, the trials of being a writer to his political and religious affiliations, and Shaw’s emotionally-driven thinking and his way with words.

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Samuel Beckett (1969) 

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1969 was awarded to Samuel Beckett “for his writing, which-in new forms for the novel and drama-in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation.” 


The Collected Shorter Plays by Samuel Beckett 

Call Number: 842.914 B3889c Publication Date: 2010

This complete and definitive collection of twenty-five plays and “playlets” includes Beckett’s celebrated Krapp’s Last Tape, Embers, Cascando, Play, Eh Joe, Not I, and Footfalls, as well as his mimes, all his radio and television plays, his screenplay for Film, his adaptation of Robert Pinget’s The Old Tune, and the more recent Catastrophe, What Where, Quad, and Night and Dreams. 

Endgame: A Play in One Act, followed by Act Without Words, a Mime for One Player

Call Number: 842.914 B3889e Publication Date: 1958

“Endgame, ” originally written in French and translated into English by Beckett himself, is considered by many critics to be his greatest single work. A pinnacle of Beckett’s characteristic raw minimalism, it is a pure and devastating distillation of the human essence in the face of approaching death.

Krapp’s Last Tape, and Other Dramatic Pieces by Samuel Beckett 

Call Number: 842.914 B3889k Publication Date:1960

This collection of Nobel Prize winner Samuel Beckett’s dramatic pieces includes a short stage play, two radio plays, and two pantomimes. The stage play, Krapp’s Last Tape, evolves a shattering drama out of a monologue of a man who, at age sixty-nine, plays back the autobiographical tape he recorded on his thirty-ninth birthday.


Samuel Beckett: The Complete Short Prose, 1929-1989 edited and with an introduction by S.E. Gontarski 

Call Number: 848.91409 B3889s Publication Date: 1995

An anthology of short stories by a poet and dramatist who considered his prose fiction “the important writing.” The collection represents the seeds of creation for his later works in which he looked at the tragicomic plight of man. The titles range from Assumption, published in a magazine when Beckett was 23, to Stirrings Still, written when he was 82.


Molloy; Malone Dies; The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett with an introduction by Gabriel Josipovici 

Call Number: FIC Beckett, S Publication Date: 1997

Three novels in one book: Mysteriously imprisoned, Molloy disappears while looking for his mother in the first novel “Molloy.” Then “Malone Dies” is about a dying man’s reflection on life, and lastly a nameless individual ponders his existence in “The Unnamable.” 

More Pricks than Kicks by Samuel Beckett 

Call Number: FIC Beckett, S Publication Date: 1974

This collection of ten short stories was first published in 1934; they originally formed part of an unfinished novel. These stories trace the career of Belacqua Shuah, the first of Beckett’s antiheroes. 

Nohow On: Three Novels by Samuel Beckett with an introduction by S.E. Gontarski

Call Number: FIC Beckett, S Publication Date: 1996

Now compiled in one volume, these three novels, which are among the most beautiful and disquieting of Samuel Beckett’s later prose works. In Company, a voice comes to “one on his back in the dark” and speaks to him. Ill Seen Ill Said focuses attention on an old woman in a cabin who is part of the objects, landscape, rhythms, and movements of an incomprehensible universe. And in Worstward Ho, Beckett explores a tentative, uncertain existence in a world devoid of rational meaning and purpose. Here is language pared down to its most expressive, confirming Beckett’s position as one of the great writers of our time. 

Watt by Samuel Beckett 

Call Number: FIC Beckett, S Publication Date: 1959

An account of the grotesque and improbable adventures of a fantastically logical Irish servant and his master, narrated with mordant wit and rooted in Beckett’s own terrifying vision of despair. 


Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett by James Knowlson 

Call Number: BIO Beckett, S Publication Date: 1996

The Award-Winning Biography of Twentieth-Century Literature’s Enigmatic Genius. Winner of the George Freedley Memorial Award and shortlisted for the Whitbread, Damned to Fame is the brilliant and insightful portrait of Nobel Prize-winning author Samuel Beckett, the renowned yet reclusive master of twentieth-century literature. 

Other Works:

I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On: A Selection from Samuel Beckett’s Work by Samuel Beckett; edited and introduced by Richard W Seaver 

Call Number: 848.914 B3889i 1976 Publication Date: 1976

In this one-volume collection of his fiction, drama, poetry and critical writings, we get an unsurpassed look at his work. Included, among others, are: The complete plays Waiting for Godot, Cascando, and That Time; Selections from his novels Mercier and Camier, and The Unnamble; The shorter works Dante and the Lobster, and The Expelled; and a selection of Beckett’s poetry and critical writings.

The Letters of Samuel Beckett edited by Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck

Call Number: REF 848.91409 B3889L v.1 Publication Date: 2009

The letters written by Samuel Beckett between 1929 and 1940 provide a vivid and personal view of Western Europe in the 1930s, and mark the gradual emergence of Beckett’s unique voice and sensibility. The Cambridge University Press edition of The Letters of Samuel Beckett offers for the first time a comprehensive range of letters of one of the greatest literary figures of the twentieth century.

No Author Better Served: The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett & Alan Schneider edited by Maurice Harmon 

Call Number: REF 848.914 B3889n Publication Date: 1998

The 500 letters between Beckett and Schneider offers an unparalleled picture of the art and craft of theater in the hands of two masters. It is also an endlessly enlightening look into the playwright’s ideas and methods, his remarks a virtual crib sheet for his brilliant, 

eccentric plays. Alan Schneider premiered five of Beckett’s plays in the United States, including Waiting for Godot, Krapp’s Last Tape,and Endgame, and directed a number of revivals. 

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Seamus Heaney (1995) 

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1995 was awarded to Seamus Heaney “for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past.” 


The Burial at Thebes: Sophocles’ Antigone translated by Seamus Heaney

Call Number: 822.914 H35b 2004 Publication Date: 2004

Commissioned to mark the centenary of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 2004, The Burial at Thebes is Seamus Heaney’s new verse translation of Sophocles’ great tragedy, Antigone – whose eponymous heroine is one of the most sharply individualized and compelling figures in western drama.


Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney 

Call Number: REF 829.3 B4501b Publication Date: 1999

In this new translation, Seamus Heaney produced a work that is both true, line by line, to the original poem, and an expression of something fundamental to his own creative gift. Beowulf is one the great epics and classics of European literature. It is a tale of its hero’s triumphs as a warrior and his fated death as defender of his people. 

Field Work by Seamus Heaney 

Call Number: Special 821.914 H35f 2009* Publication Date: 2009

Field Work is the record of four years during which Seamus Heaney left the violence of Belfast to settle in a country cottage with his family in Glanmore, County Wicklow. Heaney wrote poems with a new strength and maturity, moving from the political concerns of his landmark volume North to a more personal, contemplative approach to the world and to his own writing.

(*See a librarian for assistance) 

Human Chain by Seamus Heaney 

Call Number: 821.914 H35h 2010 Publication Date: 2010

Seamus Heaney’s new collection elicits continuities and solidarities, between husband and wife, child and parent, then and now, inside an intently remembered present – the stepping stones of the day, the weight and heft of what is passed from hand to hand, lifted and lowered. Human Chain also broaches larger questions of transmission, as lifelines to the inherited past.

New Selected Poems, 1966-1987 by Seamus Heaney 

Call Number: 821.914 H35n Publication Date: 1990

A collection of poems previously published, including Door into the Dark (1967), North (1975), Sweeney Astray (1983), The Haw Lantern (1987), and others. 

Open Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996 by Seamus Heaney 

Call Number: Special 821.914 H35o* Publication Date: 1998

A definitive choice of the Nobel Laureate’s best poems, this volume gathers the landmark works from Heaney’s 12 previous collections and brings the reader up to date with work he has published since 1987. 

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The Redress of Poetry: Oxford Lectures by Seamus Heaney 

Call Number: REF 821.009 H35r 1995 Publication Date: 1995

Seamus Heaney defines the title of this work of criticism as follows: “To redress poetry is to know and celebrate it for its forcibleness as itself . . . not only as a matter of proffered argument and edifying content but as a matter of angelic potential, a motion of the soul.” Throughout this collection, Heaney’s insight and eloquence are themselves of a poetic order. 

Seeing Things by Seamus Heaney 

Call Number: Special 821.914 H35s* Publication Date: 1991

This collection of Seamus Heaney’s work, especially in the vivid and surprising twelve-line poems entitled Squarings, shows he is ready to re-imagine experience and to credit marvels. The title poem, Seeing Things, is typical of the whole book. It begins with memories of an actual event, then moves towards the visionary while never relinquishing its feel for the textures and sensations of the world.

(*See a librarian for assistance) 


Finders Keepers: Selected Prose, 1971-2001 by Seamus Heaney 

Call Number: 828.91408 H35f 2002 Publication Date: 2002

Finders Keepers is a collection of Seamus Heaney’s prose of three decades. Whether autobiographical, topical or specifically literary, these essays and lectures circle the central preoccupying questions: ‘How should a poet properly live and write? What is his relationship to his own voice, his own place, his literary heritage and the contemporary world?’ 

Other Works:

Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney/Dennis O’Driscoll

Call Number: 821.914 H35Od 2009 Publication Date: 2009

Through his own lively and eloquent reminiscences, ‘Stepping Stones’ retraces Seamus Heaney’s steps from his early works, through to his receipt of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature and his post-Nobel life. It is supplemented with a large number of photographs, many from the Heaney family album and published here for the first time.

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