Louis MacNeice was born in Belfast in 1907 and educated at Marlborough and Merton College, Oxford. For most of his working life he was a writer and producer for BBC radio. His death in 1963 was sudden and unexpected.
Michael Longley was born in Belfast in 1939, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he read Classics. He has published nine collections of poetry including Gorse Fires (1991) which won the Whitbread Poetry Award and The Weather in Japan (2000) which won both the Hawthornden Prize and the T. S. Eliot Prize. His Collected Poems appeared in 2006, and his most recent collection A Hundred Doors (2011) won the Irish Times New Poetry Prize. In 2001 he received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. He was Ireland Professor of Poetry from 2007 to 2010.