A List of Every Nobel Prize Winner in Literature

A List of Every Nobel Prize Winner in Literature

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When Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel died in 1896, he provided for five prizes in his will, including the Nobel Prize in literature, an honor that goes to writers who have produced "the most outstanding work in an ideal direction." Nobel's heirs, however, fought the provisions of the will and it took five years for the first awards to be presented. With this list, discover the writers who've lived up to Nobel's ​ideals from 1901 to the present.

1901: Sully Prudhomme

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French writer René François Armand "Sully" Prudhomme (1837-1907) won the first Nobel Prize for Literature in 1901 "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."

1902: Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen

German-Nordic writer Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903) was referred to as "the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work, 'A History of Rome.'"

1903: Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson

Norwegian writer Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson (1832-1910) received the Nobel Prize "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."

1904: Frédéric Mistral and José Echegaray y Eizaguirre

In addition to his many short poems, French writer Frédéric Mistral (1830-1914) wrote four verse romances, memoirs, and also published a Provençal dictionary. He received the 1904 Nobel Prize in literature: "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."

Spanish writer José Echegaray y Eizaguirre (1832-1916) received the 1904 Nobel Prize in Literature "in recognition of the numerous and brilliant compositions which, in an individual and original manner, have revived the great traditions of the Spanish drama."

1905: Henryk Sienkiewicz

Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846-1916) was awarded the 1905 Nobel Prize in Literature thanks to "his outstanding merits as an epic writer." His best-known and most widely translated work is the 1896 novel, "Quo Vadis?" (Latin for "Where are you going?" or "Where are you marching?"), a study of Roman society in the time of Emperor Nero.

1906: Giosuè Carducci

Italian writer Giosuè Carducci (1835-1907) was a scholar, editor, orator, critic, and patriot who served as a professor of literature at the University of Bologna from 1860 to 1904. He was awarded the 1906 Nobel Prize in Literature "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."

1907: Rudyard Kipling

British writer Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) wrote novels, poems, and short stories-mostly set in India and Burma (Myanmar). He's best remembered for his classic collection of children's stories, "The Jungle Book" (1894) and the poem, "Gunga Din" (1890), both of which were later adapted for Hollywood films. Kipling was named the 1907 Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature "in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author."

1908: Rudolf Christoph Eucken

German writer Rudolf Christoph Eucken (1846-1926) received the 1908 Nobel Prize in Literature "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."

1909: Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf

Swedish writer Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf (1858 -1940) turned away from literary realism and wrote in a romantic and imaginative manner, vividly evoking the peasant life and landscape of northern Sweden. Lagerlöf, the first woman to receive the honor, was awarded the 1909 Nobel Prize in Literature "in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings."

1910: Paul Johann Ludwig Heyse

German writer Paul Johann Ludwig von Heyse (1830-1914) was a novelist, poet, and dramatist. He received the 1910 Nobel Prize in Literature "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."

1911: Maurice Maeterlinck

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Belgian writer Count Maurice (Mooris) Polidore Marie Bernhard Maeterlinck (1862-1949) developed his strongly mystical ideas in a number of prose works, among them: 1896's "Le Trésor des humbles" ("The Treasure of the Humble"), 1898's "La Sagesse et la destinée" ("Wisdom and Destiny"), and 1902's "Le Temple enseveli" ("The Buried Temple"). He received the 1911 Nobel Prize in Literature "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."

1912: Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann

German writer Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann (1862-1946) received the 1912 Nobel Prize in Literature "primarily in recognition of his fruitful, varied and outstanding production in the realm of dramatic art."

1913: Rabindranath Tagore

Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature thanks to "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."

In 1915, Tagore was knighted by King George V of England. Tagore renounced his knighthood in 1919, however, following the Amritsar massacre of nearly 400 Indian demonstrators.

(In 1914, no prize was awarded. The prize money was allocated to the special fund of this prize section)

1915: Romain Rolland

French writer Romain Rollan's (1866-1944) most famous work is "Jean Christophe," a partly autobiographical novel that won him the 1915 Nobel Prize in Literature. He also received the prize "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."

1916: Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam

Swedish writer Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam (1859-1940) received the 1916 Nobel Prize for Literature "in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature."

1917: Karl Adolph Gjellerup and Henrik Pontoppidan

Danish writer Karl Gjellerup (1857-1919) received the 1917 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his varied and rich poetry, which is inspired by lofty ideals."

Danish writer Henrik Pontoppidan (1857-1943) received the 1917 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark."

(In 1918, no prize was awarded. The prize money was allocated to the special fund of this prize section)

1919: Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler

Swiss writer Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler (1845-1924) received the 1919 Nobel Prize for Literature "in special appreciation of his epic, 'Olympian Spring.'"

1920: Knut Pedersen Hamsun

Norwegian writer Knut Pedersen Hamsun (1859-1952), a pioneer of the psychological literature genre, received the 1920 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his monumental work, 'Growth of the Soil.'"

1921: Anatole France

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French writer Anatole France (a pseudonym for Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault, 1844-1924) is often thought of as the greatest French writer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921 "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."

1922: Jacinto Benavente

Spanish writer Jacinto Benavente (1866-1954) received the 1922 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the happy manner in which he has continued the illustrious traditions of the Spanish drama."

1923: William Butler Yeats

Irish poet, spiritualist, and playwright William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) received the 1923 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his always inspired poetry which in a highly artistic form, gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation."

1924: Wladyslaw Stanislaw Reymont

Polish writer Wladyslaw Reymont (1868-1925) received the 1924 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his great national epic, 'The Peasants.'"

1925: George Bernard Shaw

Irish-born writer George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) is considered the most significant British dramatist since Shakespeare. He was a playwright, essayist, political activist, lecturer, novelist, philosopher, revolutionary evolutionist, and possibly the most prolific letter writer in literary history. Shaw received the 1925 Nobel Prize "for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty."

1926: Grazia Deledda

Italian writer Grazia Deledda (a pseudonym for Grazia Madesani née Deledda, 1871-1936) received the 1926 Nobel Prize for Literature "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."

1927: Henri Bergson

French writer Henri Bergson (1859-1941) received the 1927 Nobel Prize for Literature "in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented."

1928: Sigrid Undset (1882-1949)

Norwegian writer Sigrid Undset (1882-1949) received the 1928 Nobel Prize for Literature "for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages."

1929: Thomas Mann

German writer Thomas Mann (1875-1955) won the 1929 Nobel Laureate in Literature "principally for his great novel, 'Buddenbrooks' (1901) which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature."

1930: Sinclair Lewis

Harry Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951), the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, took the honors in 1930 "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters." He is best remembered for his novels: "Main Street" (1920), "Babbitt" (1922), "Arrowsmith" (1925), "Mantrap" (1926), "Elmer Gantry" (1927), "The Man Who Knew Coolidge" (1928), and "Dodsworth" (1929).

1931: Erik Axel Karlfeldt

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Swedish poet Erik Karlfeldt (1864-1931) was posthumously awarded the Nobel Prize for his poetic body of work.

1932: John Galsworthy

British writer John Galsworthy (1867-1933) received the 1932 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his distinguished art of narration which takes its highest form in 'The Forsyte Saga.'"

1933: Ivan Alekseyevich Bunin

Russian writer Ivan Bunin (1870-1953) received the 1933 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the strict artistry with which he has carried on the classical Russian traditions in prose writing."

1934: Luigi Pirandello

Italian poet, short-story writer, novelist, and dramatist Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) received the 1934 Nobel Prize in Literature in honor of "his almost magical power to turn psychological analysis into good theatre." The tragic farces for which was famous are thought by many to be precursors to the "Theatre of the Absurd."

(In 1935, no prize was awarded. The prize money was allocated to the special fund of this prize section)

1936: Eugene O'Neill

American writer Eugene (Gladstone) O'Neill (1888-1953) won the 1936 Nobel Prize for Literature "for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy." He has also won Pulitzer Prizes for four of his plays: "Beyond the Horizon" (1920), "Anna Christie" (1922), "Strange Interlude" (1928), and "Long Day's Journey Into Night" (1957).

1937: Roger Martin du Gard

French writer Roger du Gard (1881-1958) received the 1937 Nobel Prize for Literature "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.'"

1938: Pearl S. Buck

Prolific American writer Pearl S. Buck (a pseudonym for Pearl Walsh, née Sydenstricker, also known as Sai Zhenzhu, 1892-1973), best-remembered for her 1931 novel "The Good Earth," the first installment in her "House of Earth" trilogy, received the 1938 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces."

1939: Frans Eemil Sillanpää

Finnish writer Frans Sillanpää (1888-1964) received the 1939 Nobel Prize in Literature "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."

(From 1940-1943, no prizes were awarded. The prize money was allocated to the special fund of this prize section)

1944: Johannes Vilhelm Jensen

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Danish writer Johannes Jensen (1873-1950) received the 1944 Nobel Prize in Literature "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."

1945: Gabriela Mistral

Chilean writer Gabriela Mistral (a pseudonym for Lucila Godoy Y Alcayaga, 1830-1914) received the 1945 Nobel Prize in Literature "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."

1946: Hermann Hesse

Born in Germany, Swiss emigré poet, novelist, and painter Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) took home the 1946 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his inspired writings which, while growing in boldness and penetration, exemplify the classical humanitarian ideals and high qualities of style." His novels "Demian" (1919), "Steppenwolf" (1922), "Siddhartha" (1927), and (Narcissus and Goldmund" (1930, also published as "Death and the Lover") are classic studies in the search for truth, self-awareness, and spirituality.

1947: André Gide

French writer André Paul Guillaume Gide (1869-1951) received the 1947 Nobel Prize in Literature "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."

1948: T. S. Eliot

Renowned British/American poet and playwright Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965), a member of "the lost generation," received the 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry." His 1915 poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," is regarded as a masterpiece of the Modernist movement.

1949: William Faulkner

William Faulkner (1897-1962), considered to be one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century, received the 1949 Nobel in Literature "for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel." Some of his best-loved works include "The Sound and the Fury" (1929), "As I Lay Dying" (1930), and "Absalom, Absalom" (1936).

1950: Bertrand Russell

British writer Bertrand Arthur William Russell (1872-1970) received the 1950 Nobel in Literature "in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought."

1951: Pär Fabian Lagerkvist

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Swedish writer Pär Fabian Lagerkvist (1891-1974) received the 1951 Nobel in Literature "for the artistic vigor and true independence of mind with which he endeavors in his poetry to find answers to the eternal questions confronting mankind."

1952: François Mauriac

French writer François Mauriac (1885-1970) received the 1952 Nobel in Literature "for the deep spiritual insight and the artistic intensity with which he has in his novels penetrated the drama of human life."

1953: Sir Winston Churchill

Legendary orator, prolific author, talented artist, and statesman who twice served as British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874-1965), received the 1953 Nobel in Literature "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values."

1954: Ernest Hemingway

Another of the 20th centuries most influential American novelists, Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899-1961)was known for his brevity of style. He received the 1954 Nobel in Literature "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."

1955: Halldór Kiljan Laxness

Icelandic writer Halldór Kiljan Laxness (1902-1998) received the 1955 Nobel in Literature "for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland."

1956: Juan Ramón Jiménez Mantecón

Spanish writer Juan Ramón Jiménez Mantecón (1881-1958) received the 1956 Nobel in Literature "for his lyrical poetry, which in the Spanish language constitutes an example of high spirit and artistic purity."

1957: Albert Camus

Algerian-born French writer Albert Camus (1913-1960) was a famous existentialist who authored "The Stranger" (1942) and "The Plague" (1947). He received the Nobel Prize in Literature "for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times."

1958: Boris Pasternak

Russian poet and novelist Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (1890-1960) received the 1958 Nobel in literature "for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition." Russian authorities led him to decline the award after he'd accepted it. He is best remembered for his epic 1957 novel of love and revolution, "Doctor Zhivago."

1959: Salvatore Quasimodo

Italian writer Salvatore Quasimodo (1901-1968) received the Nobel Prize in Literature "for his lyrical poetry, which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times."

1960: Saint-John Perse

French writer Saint-John Perse (a pseudonym for Alexis Léger, 1887-1975) received the 1960 Nobel in Literature "for the soaring flight and the evocative imagery of his poetry which in a visionary fashion reflects the conditions of our time."

1961: Ivo Andric

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Yugoslavian writer Ivo Andric (1892-1975) received the 1961 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country."

1962: John Steinbeck

Quintessentially American author John Steinbeck's (1902-1968) enduring body of work includes such classic novels of hardship and despair as "Of Mice and Men" (1937) and "The Grapes of Wrath" (1939), as well as lighter fare including "Cannery Row" (1945) and "Travels With Charley: In Search of America" (1962). He received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and keen social perception."

1963: Giorgos Seferis

Greek writer Giorgos Seferis (a pseudonym for Giorgos Seferiadis, 1900-1971) received the 1963 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture."

1964: Jean-Paul Sartre

French philosopher, dramatist, novelist, and political journalist Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), perhaps most famous for his 1944 existential drama, "No Exit," received the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature "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."

1965: Michail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov

Russian writer Michail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov (1905-1984) received the 1965 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the artistic power and integrity with which, in his epic 'And Quiet Flows the Don,' he has given expression to a historic phase in the life of the Russian people."

1966: Shmuel Yosef Agnon and Nelly Sachs

Israeli writer Shmuel Yosef Agnon (1888-1970) received the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people."

Swedish writer Nelly Sachs (1891-1970) received the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel's destiny with touching strength."

1967: Miguel Angel Asturias

Guatemalan writer Miguel Asturias (1899-1974) received the 1967 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his vivid literary achievement, deep-rooted in the national traits and traditions of Indian peoples of Latin America."

1968: Yasunari Kawabata

Novelist and short-story writer Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972) was the first Japanese writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He won the 1968 honor "for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind."

1969: Samuel Beckett

During his career, Irish writer Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) produced work as a novelist, playwright, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator. His 1953 play, "Waiting for Godot" is considered by many to be the purest example of absurdist/existentialism ever written. Beckett received the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his writing, which-in new forms for the novel and drama-in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation."

1970: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Russian novelist, historian, and short-story writer Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) received the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature." While only able to publish one work in his native country, 1962's "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," Solzhenitsyn brought global awareness to Russia's Gulag labor camps. His other novels, "Cancer Ward" (1968), "August 1914" (1971), and "The Gulag Archipelago" (1973) were published outside of the U.S.S.R.

1971: Pablo Neruda

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Prolific Chilean writer Pablo Neruda (a pseudonym for Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, 1904-1973) wrote and published more than 35,000 pages of poetry, including perhaps the work that would make him famous, "Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada" ("Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair"). He received the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature "for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams."

1972: Heinrich Böll

German writer Heinrich Böll (1917-1985) received the 1972 Nobel Prize in Literature "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."


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