Michael Longley was born in Belfast in 1939 and educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Trinity College, Dublin, where he read Classics. In 1991 he retired from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, where he initiated the programmes for literature, the traditional arts and arts-in-education. His collections include Gorse Fires (1991), which won the Whitbread Prize for Poetry, The Ghost Orchid (1995) which was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, and The Weather in Japan (2000), which won the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Hawthornden Prize and the Irish Times Literature Prize for Poetry. His Selected Poems was published in 1998, and in 2001 he was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and member of Aosdána. He and his wife, the critic Edna Longley, live and work in Belfast.