Wole Soyinka is a Nigerian playwright, poet, author, teacher and political activist. He was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria, in 1934. In 1986, the playwright and political activist became the first African to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. He dedicated his Nobel acceptance speech to Nelson Mandela.
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. At the same time, he taught drama and literature at various universities in Ibadan, Lagos, and Ife, where, since 1975, he has been professor of comparative literature. In 1960, he founded the theatre group, “The 1960 Masks” and in 1964, the “Orisun Theatre Company”, in which he has produced his own plays and taken part as actor. He has periodically been visiting professor at the universities of Cambridge, Sheffield, and Yale.
Soyinka has published hundreds of works, including drama, novels, essays and poetry, and colleges all over the world seek him out as a visiting professor. His prolific body of work includes The Interpreters, his debut novel that was published in 1965, and Death and the King’s Horseman, a play that was first performed in 1976.