Friday 10/23/20

Facts about the Nobel Prize in Literature

As of 2019, the Swedish Academy has handed out 113 awards to 117 writers.
Underwood-typewriter-Hemingway

The Nobel Prize in Literature was first awarded in 1901.

As of 2019, the Swedish Academy has handed out 113 awards to 117 writers.

The awards were not given out seven times during that span: in 1914, 1918, 1935, 1940, 1941, 1942 and 1943.

Some other facts about the literature prize:

- The youngest literature laureate was Rudyard Kipling, who was 41 when he won in 1907.

- The oldest literature laureate was Doris Lessing, who was 88 when she won in 2007.

- Two people have declined the award: Boris Pasternak (1958), who first accepted but then declined because of pressure - including threatened deportation from his country, the Soviet Union - and French writer Jean-Paul Sartre (1964), who consistently declined all official honours.

- With Thursday's announcement, 16 women have now won the literature prize. Swedish author Selma Lagerloef was the first woman to be awarded, in 1909. Others have included Pearl Buck (1938), Nadine Gordimer (1991), Toni Morrison (1993), Herta Mueller (2009), Alice Munro (2013), Svetlana Alexievich (2015) and 2018 laureate Olga Tokarczuk.

- The laureates have - as of 2019 - written in languages ranging from English (30), French (14), German (14) and Polish (5) to Japanese (2), Arabic (1) and Chinese (2).

- Rabindranath Tagore (1913) wrote in Bengali and English, Samuel Beckett (1969) in French and English, and Joseph Brodsky (1987) wrote poetry in Russian and prose in English.

- A surprise winner was the 2016 laureate, folk music icon Bob Dylan; another was Winston Churchill (1953).

- While the prize is for an author's life work, the academy has singled out a specific work in the case of nine laureates, including Ernest Hemingway (1954), Thomas Mann (1929) and Theodor Mommsen (1902).

- The prize has been shared four times since 1901, most recently in 1974, when Swedish authors Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson won.

- The nominations and opinions written by the members of the committee each year are kept secret for 50 years.

- The most common genre awarded for the literature prize is prose.

- There have been no multiple winners of the literature prize.

- The prize was awarded posthumously once - in 1931 to Erik Axel Karlfeldt. From 1974, the Nobel Foundation decided that a prize could not be awarded posthumously unless the death occurs after the announcement of the Nobel.

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