As a child, Heaney read adventure stories and comics but was taught to write in a formal, conventional style.

As a child, Heaney read books about savages and explorers from a box that served as school library. The first book he ever owned was 'Kidnapped' by Robert Louis Stevenson. Comic books played a prominent role in children's reading during the 1940s and 1950s. However, children were taught to write in a formal, conventional style that led to everyone writing in the same way. Heaney tells John Quinn that he didn't know you could tell the truth in writing until he was in his 20s.