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Book review: Seamus Heaney’s letters put us in a room with him at his most relaxed

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This letters collection finds the poet giving gracious critiques to young poets, being engaging and funny with friends, and crafting sublime sentences no matter the topic

In 1946, when David Marcus – an unknown 21-year-old – launched a new journal called Irish Writing, he received a generous response from every famous writer he approached for work – except for George Bernard Shaw, who sent a postcard emblazoned with a gigantic “NO!”

If this gives Shaw a rating of zero in terms of collegiality towards younger writers, then, based on this extensive collection of letters, Seamus Heaney deserves a rating of 9.5.

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