Wole Soyinka was born on 13 July 1934 at Abeokuta, near Ibadan in western Nigeria.
After preparatory university studies in 1954 at Government College in Ibadan, he continued at the University of Leeds, where later in 1973 he took his doctorate.
During the six years spent in England, he was a dramaturgist at the Royal Court Theatre in London 1958-1959. In 1960, he was awarded a Rockefeller bursary and returned to Nigeria to study African drama.
During the civil war in Nigeria, Soyinka appealed in an article for cease-fire, for this he was arrested in 1967, accused of conspiring with the Biafra rebels, and was held as a political prisoner for 22 months until 1969. Soyinka has published about 20 works: drama, novels and poetry. He writes in English and his literary language is marked by great scope and richness of words.
Soyinka has been influenced by, among others, the Irish writer, J.M. Synge, but links up with the traditional popular African Theatre with its combination of dance, music, and action.
He bases his writing on the mythology of his own tribe-the Yoruba-with Ogun, the god of iron and war, at the center. He wrote his first plays during his time in London.
Soyinka’s poems, which show a close connection to his plays, are collected in Idanre, and Other Poems (1967), Poems from Prison (1969), A Shuttle in the Crypt (1972) the long poem Ogun Abibiman (1976) and Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems (1988).