An Oloye (Chief) of the Yoruba people, Fagunwa studied at St. Luke's School, Oke-Igbo and St. Andrew's College, Oyo, before becoming a teacher himself.
Wole Soyinka translated the book into English in 1968 as “The Forest of a Thousand Daemons”.
Fagunwa's novels draw heavily on folktale traditions and idioms, including many supernatural elements. His heroes are usually Yoruba hunters, who interact with kings, sages, and even gods in their quests.
Fagunwa remains the most widely read Yorùbá-language author and a major influence on such contemporary writers as Amos Tutuola.
D. O. Fagunwa was the first Nigerian writer to employ folk philosophy in telling his stories. He was awarded the Margaret Wong Prize in 1955 and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1959.
He tried to swim out of the water but sank because the canoe by the river also fell and collapsed on him. His body was recovered three days later with his clothes, shoes, eyeglasses and outer garments all intact. He was 60.
Fagunwa Memorial High School and Fagunwa Grammar School in Oke-Igbo, Ondo State, Nigeria, are named after him.