In 1965 he married Marie Devlin and the following year their son Michael was born (to be followed by Christopher and Catherine Ann) and Faber and Faber published Heaney's first major volume, Death of a Naturalist. Since then, as well as criticism, translation and two plays from Sophocles, there have been ten more collections, the heart and fulcrum of the work: Door into the Dark (1969), Wintering Out (1972), North (1975), Field Work (1979), Station Island (1984), The Haw Lantern (1987), Seeing Things (1991), The Spirit Level (1996), Electric Light (2001) and District and Circle (2006).

District and Circle was awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize and many other awards have included the Whitbread Book of the Year, twice, for The Spirit Level and his translation of Beowulf, and in 1995 the Nobel Prize in Literature for, in the words of the Nobel citation, "works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past." In March 2009, he was awarded the David Cohen Prize for Literature.

Alongside his writing, Heaney has taught at Queen's University Belfast, at the University of California, at Carysfort Teacher Training College in Dublin, at Harvard University where he has been, variously, Bolyston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Poet-in-Residence, and at Oxford University where he was Professor of Poetry from 1989 to 1994.

Seamus Heaney lives in Dublin and, as he says in the RT… television documentary Seamus Heaney: Out of the Marvellous, "in the country and in his memory."