The city of Belfast has been the homeplace to many famous Irish literary figures. C. S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, was born in Belfast as were, playwright Marie Jones and poet John Hewitt, just to name a few. Belfast has also helped to inspire other brilliant minds within the Literary world, including Seamus Heaney and Jonathan Swift.
Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland, on November 29, 1898, to Flora August Hamilton Lewis and Albert J. Lewis. C.S. Lewis was a prolific Irish writer and scholar who wrote 40 books. C.S. Lewis was best known for his ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ fantasy series, which have been adapted into various films for the big and small screens. During the 1940s, Lewis began writing the seven books that would comprise The Chronicles of Narnia children’s series, with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) being the first release. Find out more about CS Lewis here.
John was born in Belfast, on 28 October 1907 and lived at Cliftonpark Avenue. John was a renowned poet, art historian and collector and political activist. Hewitt worked as an employee of Belfast City Council for 29 years in the Ulster Museum. In 1930 he was appointed Art Assistant at the Ulster Museum and Art Gallery. Some of John Hewitt’s prolific work include, An Ulster Reckoning (1971)’& Art in Ulster (1977).
His life and work are celebrated in two prominent ways – the annual John Hewitt International Summer School – and a Belfast pub is named after him – the John Hewitt Bar and Restaurant, which opened in 1999.
Samuel Beckett was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator. Beckett graduated with a BA and, after teaching briefly at Campbell College in Belfast. He is considered one of the last modernist writers, his best-known work is his 1953 play Waiting for Godot.
In East Belfast you will be able to see a mural of playwright and poet Samuel Beckett on the Belmont Road. There is also a self-guided, audio tour that immerses the listener in the enigmatic imagination of the great Irish writer Samuel Beckett in Belfast.
Sarah Marie Jones is a Belfast based playwright, whose plays have been staged on Broadway as well as across Ireland. Sarah has written many plays, including Stones in His Pockets, A Night in November, about the troubles, and Fly Me To The Moon, that premiered at the Grand Opera house in 2015 prior to a hugely successful run in New York, and was also staged at the Lyric Theatre.
Seamus Heaney is widely recognized as one of the major poets of the 20th century. He received the 1995 Noble Peace Prize in Literature. One of Heaney’s well renowned poems is Digging from his 1966 debut, Death of a Naturalist.
Although Seamus Heaney was not born in Belfast, but in county Derry, he did live in the city for many years. Heaney studied and taught at Queen’s University Belfast and his legacy lives on in the college’s Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. There is also an arts and literary centre called Seamus Heaney HomePlace, Bellaghy, dedicated to his life, work and legacy.
Did you know that Cave Hill is believed to have been the inspiration for Jonathan Swift’s famous novel Gulliver’s Travels. Swift once imagined that the outline of Cave Hill resembled a sleeping giant safeguarding the city of Belfast. Cave Hill has been synonymous with Belfast, with its imposing outline visible throughout the city. .
Things to See & Do for Literary Lovers
Check out different venues and attractions that allow you to relax, learn and embrace the complex world of literature and creativity within Belfast.
Linen Hall Library
Belfast's oldest library with famous Irish and genealogy collections, housed in a listed Victorian linen building.
Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich
Cultúrlann produces a vibrant arts programme that promotes Irish language and culture and provides a meeting place for visitors and locals alike.
2 Royal Avenue
Belfast City Council’s community and cultural hub at 2 Royal Avenue provides a free creative space in the heart of the city centre.
Crescent Arts Centre
The Crescent Arts Centre is a vibrant community arts centre and cultural hub in the heart of south Belfast, which provides opportunities for people to meet, be inspired, experience and participate in a wide range of art forms.
The MAC is a cultural hub; selecting, creating and mixing up music, theatre, dance and art.
Grand Opera House
Northern Ireland's premier theatre presenting an outstanding programme of drama, opera, dance, comedy, musicals, family shows and much more.
EastSide Visitor Centre
Packed full of information on EastSide's key attractions, famous faces and places. Come in and sample local delicacies from Jack Coffee Bar.
Queen's Welcome Centre
A local Tourist Information Office, stocking an attractive choice of gifts and memorabilia.