October 28, 2021

Literature Journal

World literature news

List of Nobel laureates in Literature

The Nobel Prize in Literature (Swedish: Nobelpriset i litteratur) is awarded annually by the Swedish Academy to authors for outstanding contributions in the field of literature. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the 1895 will of Alfred Nobel, which are awarded for outstanding contributions in chemistry, physics, literature, peace, and physiology or medicine.[1] As dictated by Nobel’s will, the award is administered by the Nobel Foundation and awarded by a committee that consists of five members elected by the Swedish Academy.[2] The first Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded in 1901 to Sully Prudhomme of France. Each recipient receives a medal, a diploma and a monetary award prize that has varied throughout the years.[3] In 1901, Prudhomme received 150,782 SEK, which is equivalent to 7,731,004 SEK in December 2007. The award is presented in Stockholm at an annual ceremony on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel’s death.[4]

As of 2016, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to 113 individuals.[5] When he received the award in 1958, Russian-born Boris Pasternak was forced to publicly reject the award under pressure from the government of the Soviet Union. In 1964, Jean-Paul Sartre made known that he did not wish to accept the Nobel Prize in Literature, as he had consistently refused all official honors in the past.[6] However the Nobel committee does not acknowledge refusals, and includes Pasternak and Sartre in its list of Nobel laureates.[7]

Fourteen women have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, more than any other Nobel Prize with the exception of the Nobel Peace Prize.[8] Among all the years the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded, there have been only four instances in which the award was given to two people (1904, 1917, 1966, 1974). There have been seven years in which the Nobel Prize in Literature was not awarded (1914, 1918, 1935, 1940–1943).[5] The country with the most recipients of the Nobel Prize in Literature is France, with 16, followed by the United States with 11 and the United Kingdom with 10.

Laureates

YearPictureLaureateCountryLanguage(s)CitationGenre(s)
190175pxSully PrudhommeFranceFrench“in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of lofty idealism, artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect”[9]poetry, essay
190275pxTheodor MommsenGermanyGerman“the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work, A History of Rome[10]history, law
190375pxBjørnstjerne BjørnsonNorwayNorwegian“as a tribute to his noble, magnificent and versatile poetry, which has always been distinguished by both the freshness of its inspiration and the rare purity of its spirit”[11]poetry, novel, drama
190475pxFrédéric MistralFranceProvençal“in recognition of the fresh originality and true inspiration of his poetic production, which faithfully reflects the natural scenery and native spirit of his people, and, in addition, his significant work as a Provençal philologist”[12]poetry, philology
75pxJosé EchegaraySpainSpanish“in recognition of the numerous and brilliant compositions which, in an individual and original manner, have revived the great traditions of the Spanish drama”[12]drama
190575pxHenryk SienkiewiczPolandPolish“because of his outstanding merits as an epic writer”[13]novel
190675pxGiosuè CarducciItalyItalian“not only in consideration of his deep learning and critical research, but above all as a tribute to the creative energy, freshness of style, and lyrical force which characterize his poetic masterpieces”[14]poetry
190775pxRudyard KiplingUnited Kingdom 
(Born in British Empire)
English“in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration that characterize the creations of this world-famous author”[15]novel, short story, poetry
190875pxRudolf Christoph EuckenGermanyGerman“in recognition of his earnest search for truth, his penetrating power of thought, his wide range of vision, and the warmth and strength in presentation with which in his numerous works he has vindicated and developed an idealistic philosophy of life”[16]philosophy
190975pxSelma LagerlöfSwedenSwedish“in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings”[17]novel, short story
191075pxPaul von HeyseGermanyGerman“as a tribute to the consummate artistry, permeated with idealism, which he has demonstrated during his long productive career as a lyric poet, dramatist, novelist and writer of world-renowned short stories”[18]poetry, drama, novel, short story
191175pxMaurice MaeterlinckBelgiumFrench“in appreciation of his many-sided literary activities, and especially of his dramatic works, which are distinguished by a wealth of imagination and by a poetic fancy, which reveals, sometimes in the guise of a fairy tale, a deep inspiration, while in a mysterious way they appeal to the readers’ own feelings and stimulate their imaginations”[19]drama, poetry, essay
191275pxGerhart HauptmannGermanyGerman“primarily in recognition of his fruitful, varied and outstanding production in the realm of dramatic art”[20]drama, novel
191375pxRabindranath TagoreIndiaBengali and English“because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West”[21]poetry, novel, drama, short story, music
1914Not awarded
191575pxRomain RollandFranceFrench“as a tribute to the lofty idealism of his literary production and to the sympathy and love of truth with which he has described different types of human beings”[22]novel
191675pxVerner von HeidenstamSwedenSwedish“in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature”[23]poetry, novel
191775pxKarl Adolph GjellerupDenmarkDanish“for his varied and rich poetry, which is inspired by lofty ideals”[24]poetry
75pxHenrik PontoppidanDenmarkDanish“for his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark”[24]novel
1918Not awarded
191975pxCarl SpittelerSwitzerlandGerman“in special appreciation of his epic, Olympian Spring[25]poetry
192075pxKnut HamsunNorwayNorwegian“for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil[26]novel
192175pxAnatole FranceFranceFrench“in recognition of his brilliant literary achievements, characterized as they are by a nobility of style, a profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament”[27]novel, poetry
192275pxJacinto BenaventeSpainSpanish“for the happy manner in which he has continued the illustrious traditions of the Spanish drama”[28]drama
192375pxWilliam Butler YeatsIrelandEnglish“for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”[29]poetry
192475pxWładysław ReymontPolandPolish“for his great national epic, The Peasants[30]novel
192575pxGeorge Bernard ShawIrelandEnglish“for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty”[31]drama, literary criticism
192675pxGrazia DeleddaItalyItalian“for her idealistically inspired writings, which with plastic clarity picture the life on her native island and with depth and sympathy deal with human problems in general”[32]poetry, novel
192775pxHenri BergsonFranceFrench“in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented”[33]philosophy
192875pxSigrid UndsetNorway 
(Born in Denmark)
Norwegian“principally for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages”[34]novel
192975pxThomas MannGermanyGerman“principally for his great novel, Buddenbrooks, which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature”[35]novel, short story, essay
193075pxSinclair LewisUnited StatesEnglish“for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters”[36]novel, short story, drama
193175pxErik Axel KarlfeldtSwedenSwedish“The poetry of Erik Axel Karlfeldt”[37]poetry
193275pxJohn GalsworthyUnited KingdomEnglish“for his distinguished art of narration, which takes its highest form in The Forsyte Saga[38]novel
193375pxIvan BuninFrance (Born in Russia)Russian“for the strict artistry with which he has carried on the classical Russian traditions in prose writing”[39]short story, poetry, novel
193475pxLuigi PirandelloItalyItalian“for his bold and ingenious revival of dramatic and scenic art”[40]drama, novel, short story
1935Not awarded
193675pxEugene O’NeillUnited StatesEnglish“for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy”[41]drama
193775pxRoger Martin du GardFranceFrench“for the artistic power and truth with which he has depicted human conflict as well as some fundamental aspects of contemporary life in his novel cycle Les Thibault[42]novel
193875pxPearl S. BuckUnited StatesEnglish“for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces”[43]novel, biography
193975pxFrans Eemil SillanpääFinlandFinnish“for his deep understanding of his country’s peasantry and the exquisite art with which he has portrayed their way of life and their relationship with Nature”[44]novel
1940Not awarded
1941Not awarded
1942Not awarded
1943Not awarded
194475pxJohannes Vilhelm JensenDenmarkDanish“for the rare strength and fertility of his poetic imagination with which is combined an intellectual curiosity of wide scope and a bold, freshly creative style”[45]poetry
194575pxGabriela MistralChileSpanish“for her lyric poetry, which inspired by powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world”[46]poetry
194675pxHermann HesseSwitzerland 
(Born in Germany)
German“for his inspired writings, which while growing in boldness and penetration, exemplify the classical humanitarian ideals and high qualities of style”[47]novel, poetry
194775pxAndré GideFranceFrench“for his comprehensive and artistically significant writings, in which human problems and conditions have been presented with a fearless love of truth and keen psychological insight”[48]novel, essay
194875pxT. S. EliotUnited Kingdom 
(Born in the United States)
English“for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry”[49]poetry
194975pxWilliam FaulknerUnited StatesEnglish“for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel”[50]novel, short story
195075pxBertrand RussellUnited KingdomEnglish“in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought”[51]philosophy
195175pxPär LagerkvistSwedenSwedish“for the artistic vigour and true independence of mind with which he endeavours in his poetry to find answers to the eternal questions confronting mankind”[52]poetry, novel, short story, drama
195275pxFrançois MauriacFranceFrench“for the deep spiritual insight and the artistic intensity with which he has in his novels penetrated the drama of human life”[53]novel, short story
195375pxSir Winston ChurchillUnited KingdomEnglish“for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values”[54]history, essay, memoirs
195475pxErnest HemingwayUnited StatesEnglish“for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style”[55]novel, short story, screenplay
195575pxHalldór LaxnessIcelandIcelandic“for his vivid epic power, which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland”[56]novel, short story, drama, poetry
195675pxJuan Ramón JiménezSpainSpanish“for his lyrical poetry, which in Spanish language constitutes an example of high spirit and artistical purity”[57]poetry
195775pxAlbert CamusFrance (Born in French Algeria)French“for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times”[58]novel, short story, drama, philosophy, essay
195875pxBoris PasternakSoviet UnionRussian“for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition”[59]novel, poetry, translation
195975pxSalvatore QuasimodoItalyItalian“for his lyrical poetry, which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times”[60]poetry
196075pxSaint-John PerseFrance
(Born in Guadeloupe)
French“for the soaring flight and the evocative imagery of his poetry, which in a visionary fashion reflects the conditions of our time”[61]poetry
196175pxIvo AndrićYugoslavia
(Born in Austria-Hungary)
Serbo-Croatian[62]“for the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country”[63]novel, short story
196275pxJohn SteinbeckUnited StatesEnglish“for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”[64]novel, short story, screenplay
196375pxGiorgos SeferisGreece 
(Born in the Ottoman Empire)
Greek“for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture”[65]poetry
196475pxJean-Paul SartreFranceFrench“for his work, which rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom and the quest for truth, has exerted a far-reaching influence on our age”[66]novel, philosophy, drama, literary criticism, screenplay
196575pxMikhail SholokhovSoviet UnionRussian“for the artistic power and integrity with which, in his epic of the Don, he has given expression to a historic phase in the life of the Russian people”[67]novel
196675pxShmuel Yosef AgnonIsrael 
(Born in Austria-Hungary)
Hebrew“for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people”[68]novel, short story
75pxNelly SachsSweden 
(Born in Germany)
German“for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel’s destiny with touching strength”[68]poetry, drama
196775pxMiguel Ángel AsturiasGuatemalaSpanish“for his vivid literary achievement, deep-rooted in the national traits and traditions of Indian peoples of Latin America”[69]novel, poetry
196875pxYasunari KawabataJapanJapanese“for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind”[70]novel, short story
196975pxSamuel BeckettIrelandEnglish and French“for his writing, which – in new forms for the novel and drama – in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation”[71]novel, drama, poetry
197075pxAleksandr SolzhenitsynSoviet UnionRussian“for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature”[72]novel
197175pxPablo NerudaChileSpanish“for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent’s destiny and dreams”[73]poetry
197275pxHeinrich BöllWest GermanyGerman“for his writing, which through its combination of a broad perspective on his time and a sensitive skill in characterization has contributed to a renewal of German literature”[74]novel, short story
197375pxPatrick WhiteAustralia 
(Born in the United Kingdom)
English“for an epic and psychological narrative art, which has introduced a new continent into literature”[75]novel, short story, drama
197475pxEyvind JohnsonSwedenSwedish“for a narrative art, farseeing in lands and ages, in the service of freedom”[76]novel
75pxHarry MartinsonSwedenSwedish“for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos”[76]poetry, novel, drama
197575pxEugenio MontaleItalyItalian“for his distinctive poetry, which, with great artistic sensitivity, has interpreted human values under the sign of an outlook on life with no illusions”[77]poetry
197675pxSaul BellowUnited States 
(Born in Canada)
English“for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work”[78]novel, short story
197775pxVicente AleixandreSpainSpanish“for a creative poetic writing, which illuminates man’s condition in the cosmos and in present-day society, at the same time representing the great renewal of the traditions of Spanish poetry between the wars”[79]poetry
197875pxIsaac Bashevis SingerUnited States 
(Born in Poland)
Yiddish“for his impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life”[80]novel, short story, memoirs
197975pxOdysseas ElytisGreeceGreek“for his poetry, which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts with sensuous strength and intellectual clear-sightedness modern man’s struggle for freedom and creativeness”[81]poetry
198075pxCzesław MiłoszPolandPolish“who with uncompromising clear-sightedness voices man’s exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts”[82]poetry, essay
198175pxElias CanettiUnited Kingdom
(Born in Bulgaria)
German“for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power”[83]novel, drama, memoirs, essay
198275pxGabriel García MárquezColombiaSpanish“for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent’s life and conflicts”[84]novel, short story, screenplay
198375pxWilliam GoldingUnited KingdomEnglish“for his novels, which with the perspicuity of realistic narrative art and the diversity and universality of myth, illuminate the human condition in the world of today”[85]novel, poetry, drama
198475pxJaroslav SeifertCzechoslovakia 
(Born in Austria-Hungary)
Czech“for his poetry, which endowed with freshness, and rich inventiveness provides a liberating image of the indomitable spirit and versatility of man”[86]poetry
198575pxClaude SimonFrance (Born in French Madagascar)French“who in his novel combines the poet’s and the painter’s creativeness with a deepened awareness of time in the depiction of the human condition”[87]novel
198675pxWole SoyinkaNigeriaEnglish“who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence”[88]drama, novel, poetry
198775pxJoseph BrodskyUnited States 
(Born in the Soviet Union)
English and Russian“for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity”[89]poetry, essay
198875pxNaguib MahfouzEgyptArabic“who, through works rich in nuance – now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous – has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind”[90]novel
198975pxCamilo José CelaSpainSpanish“for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man’s vulnerability”[91]novel, short story
199075pxOctavio PazMexicoSpanish“for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity”[92]poetry, essay
199175pxNadine GordimerSouth AfricaEnglish“who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity”[93]novel, short story, essay
199275pxDerek WalcottSaint LuciaEnglish“for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment”[94]poetry, drama
199375pxToni MorrisonUnited StatesEnglish“who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality”[95]novel
199475pxKenzaburō ŌeJapanJapanese“who with poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today”[96]novel, short story
199575pxSeamus HeaneyIreland (Born in the United Kingdom)English“for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past”[97]poetry
199675pxWisława SzymborskaPolandPolish“for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”[98]poetry
199775pxDario FoItalyItalian“who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden”[99]drama
199875pxJosé SaramagoPortugalPortuguese“who with parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony continually enables us once again to apprehend an elusory reality”[100]novel, drama, poetry
199975pxGünter GrassGermanyGerman“whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history”[101]novel, drama, poetry
200075pxGao XingjianFrance (since 1998)
China (1940–1998)
Chinese“for an oeuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama”[102]novel, drama, literary criticism
200175pxSir V. S. NaipaulUnited Kingdom 
(Born in Trinidad & Tobago)
English“for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories”[103]novel, essay
200275pxImre KertészHungaryHungarian“for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history”[104]novel
200375pxJ. M. CoetzeeSouth AfricaEnglish“who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider”[105]novel, essay, translation
200475pxElfriede JelinekAustriaGerman“for her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power”[106]novel, drama
200575pxHarold PinterUnited KingdomEnglish“who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms”[107]drama, screenplay
200675pxOrhan PamukTurkeyTurkish“who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures”[108]novel, screenplay, essay
200775pxDoris LessingUnited Kingdom(Born in Iran)English“that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny”[109]novel, drama, poetry, short story, memoirs
200875pxJ. M. G. Le ClézioFrance
Mauritius
French“author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization”[110]novel, short story, essay, translation
200975pxHerta MüllerGermany
(Born in Romania)
German“who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed”[111]novel, poetry
201075pxMario Vargas LlosaPeru
Spain
Spanish“for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat”[112]novel, short story, essay, drama, memoirs
201175pxTomas TranströmerSwedenSwedish“because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality”[113]poetry, translation
201275pxMo YanChinaChinese“who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary”[114]novel, short story
201375pxAlice MunroCanadaEnglish“master of the contemporary short story”[115]short story
201475pxPatrick ModianoFranceFrench“for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation”[116]novel
201575pxSvetlana AlexievichBelarus 
(Born in Ukrainian SSR)
Russian“for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time” [117]history, essay
201675pxBob DylanUnited StatesEnglish“for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”[118]poetry, songwriting

Nobel laureates by country[edit]

The 113 Nobel laureates in literature from 1901 to 2016 have come from the following countries:

CountryNumber
France16
United States11
United Kingdom10
Germany8
Sweden8
Italy6
Spain6
Poland5
Ireland4
Russia/USSR4
Denmark3
Norway3
China2
Japan2
South Africa2
Greece2
Chile2
Switzerland2
Belgium1
India1
Finland1
Iceland1
Yugoslavia1
Israel1
Turkey1
Guatemala1
Australia1
Bulgaria1
Colombia1
Czechoslovakia1
Nigeria1
Egypt1
Mexico1
Saint Lucia1
Portugal1
Hungary1
Austria1
Mauritius1
Peru1
Canada1
Belarus1

One Nobel laureate is classified as stateless (Ivan Bunin, 1933).

Nobel laureates by language[edit]

The 113 Nobel laureates in literature from 1901 to 2016 have written in the following languages:

LanguageNumber
English27
French16
German13
Spanish11
Swedish7
Italian6
Russian6
Polish4
Danish3
Norwegian3
Chinese2
Greek2
Japanese2
Arabic1
Bengali1
Czech1
Finnish1
Hebrew1
Hungarian1
Icelandic1
Provençal1
Portuguese1
Serbo-Croatian1
Turkish1
Yiddish1

Rabindranath Tagore (Nobel Prize in Literature 1913) wrote in Bengali and English, Samuel Beckett (Nobel Prize in Literature 1969) wrote in French and English and Joseph Brodsky (Nobel Prize in Literature 1987) wrote poetry in Russian and prose in English. These three Nobel laureates have been sorted under Bengali, French and Russian, respectively.[119]

Nobel laureates by gender[edit]

The 113 Nobel laureates in literature from 1901 to 2016 were from the following genders :

DecadeMalesFemales
1900 – 190991
1910 – 191990
1920 – 192982
1930 – 193981
1940 – 194951
1950 – 1959100
1960 – 1969101
1970 – 1979110
1980 – 1989100
1990 – 199973
2000 – 200973
2010 – 201652
Total9914