Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1986
Born: 13 July 1934, Abeokuta, Nigeria
Residence at the time of the award: Nigeria
Prize motivation: "who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence."
Prize share: 1/1
Wole Soyinka was born in Abeokuta, Nigeria. His father was a priest in the Anglican Church and principal of a school. His mother owned a store and was active within the women's liberation movement. Wole Soyinka's family belongs to the Yoruba people, whose culture has influenced his works. After studying in Nigeria and the UK, he worked at a theatre in London. His pointed criticism of Nigerian political regimes has contributed to his living mostly abroad, primarily in the US, where he has held professorships at several universities. Wole Soyinka has six children.
Wole Soyinka is best known as a playwright. Alongside his literary career, he has also worked as an actor and in theaters in Nigeria and Great Britain. His works also include poetry, novels, and essays. Wole Soyinka writes in English, but his works are rooted in his native Nigeria and the Yoruba culture, with its legends, tales, and traditions. His writing also includes influences from Western traditions - from classical tragedies to modernist drama.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.