Wole Soyinka: A Chronology

[James Gibbs, Critical Perspectives on Wole Soyinka (1980), provided much of the information in the first part of the following chronology. Adesola Adeyemi has kindly provided most of the later material.]

1934 Born Oluwole Akinwande Soyinka on 13 July in Ijebu Isara in Western Nigeria. His father Ayo was a school supervisor and his mother Eniola "a trader."

ca. 1940-1952. attends primary school in Abeokuta and secondary school at Government College, Ibadan.

1952-54 University College, Ibadan, an institution affiliated with the University of London

1954-1957 University of Leeds (UK). Receives Honors Degree in English Literature.

1957. Begins work for M. A. at Leeds but abandons graduate studies to work in theater; serves as play reader for Royal Court Theatre, London.

1958. September: Produces The Swamp Dwellers for the University of London Drama Festival.

1959. February: The Swamp Dwellers and The Lion and the Jewel produced in Ibadan; November: Writes, produces, and acts in a An Evening without Decor, a medley of his work, at the Royal Court Theatre, London; attacks racism and colonial repression in Africa in these and other works.

1960. Returns to Nigeria; March: The Trials of Brother Jero produced at Ibadan; May: Acts role of Yang Sun in The Good Woman of Setzuan at Ibadan; October: completes, directs, and acts in A Dance of the Forests with his own acting company, 1960 Masks.

1961-64. Directs plays by other playwrights, Ibadan; attacks political intriguing, corruption, and manipulation of mass media in The (new) Republican and Before the Blackout.

1960-62. Rockefeller Research Fellow; attached to English Department at the University of Ibadan studying African drama; December: "Towards a True Theatre" (essay); writes political satire on based on emergency in Western Nigeria.

1962-1963. Lecturer, Department of English, University of Ife

1963 Culture in Transition (film)

1964. December: Founds, with others, the Drama Association of Nigeria.

1965. The Interpreters (novel) published in London; April: Writes and directs Before the Blackout, Orisun Theatre; directs Kongi's Harvest, Lagos; September: records The Detainee for BBC in London.

1965-67. Senior lecturer, Department of English, University of Lagos; criticizes personality cults and dictatorship in Africa.

1966. April: Revives Kongi's Harvest, Dakkar festival; June: Trials of Brother Jero produced, Hampstead Theatre Club, London; December: The Lion and the Jewel , Royal Court Theatre, London; shares John Whiting Award with Tom Stoppard.

1967. Head of the Department of Theater Arts, University of Ibadan; June: "The Writer in a Modern African State;" August to October 1969 imprisoned for writings sympathetic to secessionist Biafra; September: The Lion and the Jewel produced Accra; November: Trials of Brother Jero and The Strong Breed produced, Greenwich Mews Theatre, New York; Idanre and Other Poems.

1968. April: Kongi's Harvest, produced by Negro Ensemble Company, New York.

1969. February: The Road produced by Theatre Limited, Kampala, Uganda; Poems from Prison, London.

1970. August: Completes and directs Madmen and Specialists with Ibadan University Theare Arts Company in New Haven, Connecticut (at Yale?); play tours to Harlem; directs plays by Pirandello and others; Kongi's Harvest (film).

1971. A Shuttle in the Crypt (poems); March: revives Madmen and Specialists in Ibadan; acts Patrice Lumumba in John Littlewood's French production of Conor Cruise O'Brien's Murderous Angels, Paris; testifies before Kazeem Enquiry on violation of students' rights.

1972. Publishes his prison notes, The Man Died, London; July: produces extracts from A Dance of the Forests in Paris.

1973. Honorary Ph. D., University of Leeds; Season of Anomy (novel); Collected Plays I; August: National Theatre, London, produces Bacchae of Euripides, which it commisioned.

1973-74. Overseas Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge, and Visiting Professor of English, University of Sheffield; Collected Plays II.

1975. Edited Poems of Black Africa, London and New York; "Neo-Tarzanism: The Poetics of Pseudo-Tradition" (essay); attacks Idi Amin in Transition.

1976. Ogun Abibiman (poems); Myth, Literature, and the African World; Visiting Professor, Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon; Professor, University of Ife; September: Nairobi High School production of A Dance of the Forests; October: French production of A Dance of the Forests, Dakar, Gambia; December: produces Death and the King's Horseman, Ife.

1978. "Language as Boundary" (essay)

1981 Aké: The Years of Childhood (autobiography); Opera Wonyosi, an adaptation of Brecht's Three Penny Opera; "The Critic and Society: Barthes, Leftocracy, and Other Mythologies" (essay).

1982. Blues for the Prodigal (film) released; "Cross Currents: The 'New African' after Cultural Encounters" (essay).

1983 (December) Die Still, Rev. Dr. Godspeak (radio play); Requiem for a Futurologist (play) produced at Ife university; Blues for a Prodigal (film); "Shakespeare and the Living Dramatist" (essay); (July) - Unlimited Liability Company (phonograph recording).

1984 A Play of Giants (play)

1985.Requiem for a Futorologist published; "Climates of Art" (Herbert Read Memorial Lecture), Institute of Contemporary Art, London.

1986. Nobel Prize for Literature. "The External Encounter: Ambivalence in African Arts and Literature" (essay), A Play of Giants (play), Fellow, Society for the Humanities, Cornell University; Agip Prize for Literature; 1986 (October); Awarded of Nigeria's second highest honour, Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR.;

1987 Six Plays; Childe Internationale (play) republished.

1989 "The Search" (short story).

1991 Sisi Clara Workshop on Theatre (Lagos); A Scourge of Hyacinths (radio play) BBC African Service; "The Credo of Being and Nothingness" (The First Rev. Olufosoye Annual Lecture in Religion, delivered at the University of Ibadan on 25th January, 1991; published

1992 From Zia With Love

1993 honorary doctorate, Harvard University

1994 Ibadan: The Penkelemes Years (A Memoir: 1946-1965) (autobiography); Memories of a Nigerian Childhood; Flees Nigeria (November).

1995. The Beatification of Area Boy,

1996 The Open Sore of a Continent: A Personal Narrative of the Nigerian Crisis

1997. March: Charged with treason by military dictatorship.