Nobel Laureates in Literature


October 17, 2021

Nobel Prize Laureates in Literature - persons awarded the Nobel Prize by the Swedish Academy of Literature. Established by the will of Alfred Nobel from 1895, it has been awarded since 1901. In the years 1901–2020, 117 people were distinguished.

Award rules

It was Alfred Nobel's will that the award go to the person who creates the most outstanding work in an idealistic direction. He indicated the Swedish Academy as the body awarding the Nobel Prize. It was founded on the model of the French Academy by King Gustav III in 1786. The Academy has 18 members known as De Aderton ("Eighteen"). It consists of Swedish writers, poets, philologists and historians. Academy members are elected for life. The selection of the laureate is carried out by the Nobel Committee, consisting of four or five people, selected from among the members of the Academy for a period of three years. The names of the candidates for the award may be submitted by members of the Swedish Academy and other academies and institutions of a similar nature. This right was also granted to university professors of literature and philology, laureates of the Nobel Prize in Literature and chairmen of associations responsible for literary creation in individual countries. The nominations remain secret for 50 years.

Duty cycle

The workflow for awarding the award is as follows: September Members of the Nobel Committee send approximately 600–700 forms to persons eligible for nomination. Nominations must be submitted by January 31 of the following year, nominees cannot put forward their own candidacy, they should also include a motivation in addition to their name, but it is not required February The committee creates a list and submits it to the Academy for approval. April The Committee selects 15-20 names of preliminary candidates for consideration by the Academy. May The Committee narrows down the list to 5 finalists for consideration by the Academy. June August Members of the Academy learn about the work of the candidates, members of the Committee prepare a report on each of the candidates. September Discussion on the candidates' creativity. October The members of the Academy select one of the five candidates in a majority vote. December On December 10, the Nobel Prize Awards ceremony takes place in Stockholm.


In the years 1901–2019, the literary Nobel Prize was awarded 112 times (the prize was not awarded seven times), and 116 people were awarded. In the years 1904, 1917, 1966 and 1974 the Swedish Academy awarded two people each. By 2018, 15 women were among the winners. The youngest winner was the 1907 winner Rudyard Kipling (he was 41 at the time), the oldest winner was the 2007 winner Doris Lessing; She was 88 years old at the time of her nomination. The first laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature was Sully Prudhomme. He then received SEK 150,782, in 2018 the value of the full prize was SEK 9 million. By 2019, two people refused to accept the award. In 1958, the Academy nominated Boris Pasternak, who initially accepted the award, but later refused due to pressure from the USSR authorities. Jean-Paul Sartre did not accept any awards for his literary activity, which was motivated by the refusal to accept the award in 1964. Only once was the prize awarded posthumously - in 1931 it was awarded to Erik Axel Karlfeldt, and since 1974 the Statute of the Nobel Foundation forbids posthumous honors, as long as death did not take place after the nomination was announced. According to the will of the founder, laureates are to be selected regardless of their nationality; the award itself is international. In the years 1901–2017, the most awarded were writers writing in English (29 awards), then - French (14 winners) and German

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