Seamus Heaney recalls early reading at school and at home, including his crucial ‘first book’.

Treasure Island we read at school also and it was a prelude to the first book I remember owning and cherishing: there it was on the table one Christmas morning, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped.  I was a Jacobite for life after that day.

We recently had friends over for lunch and we gave a collection of stories to their three-year old son.  We heard that the storybook we gave last year had been read and re-read and read again, and the response to a new selection was enthusiastic.  I wonder, decades from now, if he’ll remember these or other early books.

I am moved and intrigued by memories of the first books read and loved, whether owned or borrowed.  Here are two of mine: The Pied Piper of Hamlyn and a collection of fairy tales from around the world.  What are yours?  Do drop me a note, and let me know if you still have any of those magical first books.

Source: Seamus Heaney, Finders Keepers: Selected prose 1971-2001 (London: Faber and Faber, 2003), p. 9

Image credits: front cover of Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1911); front cover of Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson


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