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. 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. 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. 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.

As of 2015, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to 112 individuals. When he received the award in 1958, Russian-born Boris Pasternak was forced to decline it under pressure from the government of the Soviet Union. In 1964, Jean-Paul Sartre refused to accept the Nobel Prize in Literature, as he had consistently refused all official honors in the past. Fourteen women have won the Nobel Prize in Literature, more than any other Nobel Prize with the exception of the Nobel Peace Prize. 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). The country with the most recipients of the Nobel Prize in Literature is France, with 15, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom, each with 10.

Laureates

YearPictureLaureateCountryLanguage(s)CitationGenre(s)
1901Sully Prudhomme FranceFrench"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"poetry, essay
1902Theodor Mommsen GermanyGerman"the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work, A History of Rome"history, law
1903Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson NorwayNorwegian"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"poetry, novel, drama
1904Frédéric Mistral FranceProvençal"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"poetry, philology
José Echegaray SpainSpanish"in recognition of the numerous and brilliant compositions which, in an individual and original manner, have revived the great traditions of the Spanish drama"drama
1905Henryk Sienkiewicz PolandPolish"because of his outstanding merits as an epic writer"novel
1906Giosuè Carducci ItalyItalian"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"poetry
1907Rudyard Kipling United Kingdom
(Born in India)
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"novel, short story, poetry
1908Rudolf Christoph Eucken GermanyGerman"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"philosophy
1909Selma Lagerlöf SwedenSwedish"in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings"novel, short story
1910Paul von Heyse GermanyGerman"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"poetry, drama, novel, short story
1911Maurice Maeterlinck BelgiumFrench"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"drama, poetry, essay
1912Gerhart Hauptmann GermanyGerman"primarily in recognition of his fruitful, varied and outstanding production in the realm of dramatic art"drama, novel
1913Rabindranath Tagore IndiaBengali 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"poetry, novel, drama, short story, music
1914Not awarded
1915Romain Rolland FranceFrench"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"novel
1916Verner von Heidenstam SwedenSwedish"in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature"poetry, novel
1917Karl Adolph Gjellerup DenmarkDanish"for his varied and rich poetry, which is inspired by lofty ideals"poetry
Henrik Pontoppidan DenmarkDanish"for his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark"novel
1918Not awarded
1919Carl Spitteler  SwitzerlandGerman"in special appreciation of his epic, Olympian Spring"poetry
1920Knut Hamsun NorwayNorwegian"for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil"novel
1921Anatole France FranceFrench"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"novel, poetry
1922Jacinto Benavente SpainSpanish"for the happy manner in which he has continued the illustrious traditions of the Spanish drama"drama
1923William Butler Yeats IrelandEnglish"for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation"poetry
1924Władysław Reymont PolandPolish"for his great national epic, The Peasants"novel
1925George Bernard Shaw IrelandEnglish"for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty"drama, literary criticism
1926Grazia Deledda ItalyItalian"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"poetry, novel
1927Henri Bergson FranceFrench"in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented"philosophy
1928Sigrid Undset Norway
(Born in  Denmark)
Norwegian"principally for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages"novel
1929Thomas Mann GermanyGerman"principally for his great novel, Buddenbrooks, which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature"novel, short story, essay
1930Sinclair Lewis United StatesEnglish"for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters"novel, short story, drama
1931Erik Axel Karlfeldt SwedenSwedish"The poetry of Erik Axel Karlfeldt"poetry
1932John Galsworthy United KingdomEnglish"for his distinguished art of narration, which takes its highest form in The Forsyte Saga"novel
1933Ivan Bunin France (Born in Russia)Russian"for the strict artistry with which he has carried on the classical Russian traditions in prose writing"short story, poetry, novel
1934Luigi Pirandello ItalyItalian"for his bold and ingenious revival of dramatic and scenic art"drama, novel, short story
1935Not awarded
1936Eugene O'Neill United StatesEnglish"for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy"drama
1937Roger Martin du Gard FranceFrench"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"novel
1938Pearl S. Buck United StatesEnglish"for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces"novel, biography
1939Frans Eemil Sillanpää FinlandFinnish"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"novel
1940Not awarded
1941Not awarded
1942Not awarded
1943Not awarded
1944Johannes Vilhelm Jensen DenmarkDanish"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"poetry
1945Gabriela Mistral ChileSpanish"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"poetry
1946Hermann Hesse  Switzerland
(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"novel, poetry
1947André Gide FranceFrench"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"novel, essay
1948T. S. Eliot United Kingdom
(Born in the  United States)
English"for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry"poetry
1949William Faulkner United StatesEnglish"for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel"novel, short story
1950Bertrand Russell United KingdomEnglish"in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought"philosophy
1951Pär Lagerkvist SwedenSwedish"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"poetry, novel, short story, drama
1952François Mauriac FranceFrench"for the deep spiritual insight and the artistic intensity with which he has in his novels penetrated the drama of human life"novel, short story
1953Sir Winston Churchill United KingdomEnglish"for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values"history, essay, memoirs
1954Ernest Hemingway United 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"novel, short story, screenplay
1955Halldór Laxness IcelandIcelandic"for his vivid epic power, which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland"novel, short story, drama, poetry
1956Juan Ramón Jiménez Puerto Rico (Born in Spain)Spanish"for his lyrical poetry, which in Spanish language constitutes an example of high spirit and artistical purity"poetry
1957Albert Camus France (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"novel, short story, drama, philosophy, essay
1958Boris Pasternak Soviet UnionRussian"for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition"novel, poetry, translation
1959Salvatore Quasimodo ItalyItalian"for his lyrical poetry, which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times"poetry
1960Saint-John Perse FranceFrench"for the soaring flight and the evocative imagery of his poetry, which in a visionary fashion reflects the conditions of our time"poetry
1961Ivo Andrić Yugoslavia
(Born in  Austria-Hungary)
Serbo-Croatian"for the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country"novel, short story
1962John Steinbeck United StatesEnglish"for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception"novel, short story, screenplay
1963Giorgos Seferis Greece
(Born in the  Ottoman Empire)
Greek"for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture"poetry
1964Jean-Paul Sartre FranceFrench"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"novel, philosophy, drama, literary criticism, screenplay
1965Mikhail Sholokhov Soviet 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"novel
1966Shmuel Yosef Agnon Israel
(Born in  Austria-Hungary)
Hebrew"for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people"novel, short story
Nelly Sachs Sweden
(Born in Germany)
German"for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel's destiny with touching strength"poetry, drama
1967Miguel Ángel Asturias GuatemalaSpanish"for his vivid literary achievement, deep-rooted in the national traits and traditions of Indian peoples of Latin America"novel, poetry
1968Yasunari Kawabata JapanJapanese"for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind"novel, short story
1969Samuel Beckett IrelandEnglish and French"for his writing, which - in new forms for the novel and drama - in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation"novel, drama, poetry
1970Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Soviet UnionRussian"for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature"novel
1971Pablo Neruda ChileSpanish"for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams"poetry
1972Heinrich Böll Germany (West)German"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"novel, short story
1973Patrick White Australia
(Born in the  United Kingdom)
English"for an epic and psychological narrative art, which has introduced a new continent into literature"novel, short story, drama
1974Eyvind Johnson SwedenSwedish"for a narrative art, farseeing in lands and ages, in the service of freedom"novel
Harry Martinson SwedenSwedish"for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos"poetry, novel, drama
1975Eugenio Montale ItalyItalian"for his distinctive poetry, which, with great artistic sensitivity, has interpreted human values under the sign of an outlook on life with no illusions"poetry
1976Saul Bellow United States
(Born in  Canada)
English"for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work"novel, short story
1977Vicente Aleixandre SpainSpanish"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"poetry
1978Isaac Bashevis Singer United 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"novel, short story, memoirs
1979Odysseas Elytis GreeceGreek"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"poetry
1980Czesław Miłosz PolandPolish"who with uncompromising clear-sightedness voices man's exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts"poetry, essay
1981Elias Canetti United Kingdom
(Born in Bulgaria)
German"for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power"novel, drama, memoirs, essay
1982Gabriel García Márquez ColombiaSpanish"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"novel, short story, screenplay
1983William Golding United 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"novel, poetry, drama
1984Jaroslav Seifert Czechoslovakia
(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"poetry
1985Claude Simon France (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"novel
1986Wole Soyinka NigeriaEnglish"who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence"drama, novel, poetry
1987Joseph Brodsky United States
(Born in the  Soviet Union)
English and Russian"for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity"poetry
1988Naguib Mahfouz EgyptArabic"who, through works rich in nuance - now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous - has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind"novel
1989Camilo José Cela SpainSpanish"for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man's vulnerability"novel, short story
1990Octavio Paz MexicoSpanish"for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity"poetry, essay
1991Nadine Gordimer South AfricaEnglish"who through her magnificent epic writing has - in the words of Alfred Nobel - been of very great benefit to humanity"novel, short story, essay
1992Derek Walcott Saint LuciaEnglish"for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment"poetry, drama
1993Toni Morrison United StatesEnglish"who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality"novel
1994Kenzaburō Ōe JapanJapanese"who with poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today"novel, short story
1995Seamus Heaney Ireland (Born in the  United Kingdom)English"for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past"poetry
1996Wisława Szymborska PolandPolish"for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality"poetry
1997Dario Fo ItalyItalian"who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden"drama
1998José Saramago PortugalPortuguese"who with parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony continually enables us once again to apprehend an elusory reality"novel, drama, poetry
1999Günter Grass GermanyGerman"whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history"novel, drama, poetry
2000Gao Xingjian France (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"novel, drama, literary criticism
2001Sir V. S. Naipaul United 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"novel, essay
2002Imre Kertész HungaryHungarian"for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history"novel
2003J. M. Coetzee South AfricaEnglish"who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider"novel, essay, translation
2004Elfriede Jelinek AustriaGerman"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"novel, drama
2005Harold Pinter United KingdomEnglish"who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms"drama
2006Orhan Pamuk TurkeyTurkish"who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures"novel, screenplay, essay
2007Doris Lessing United 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"novel, drama, poetry, short story, memoirs
2008J. M. G. Le Clézio France
 Mauritius
French"author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization"novel, short story, essay, translation
2009Herta Müller Germany
(Born in Romania)
German"who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed"novel, poetry
2010Mario Vargas Llosa Peru
 Spain
Spanish"for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat"novel, short story, essay, drama
2011Tomas Tranströmer SwedenSwedish"because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality"poetry, translation
2012Mo Yan ChinaChinese"who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary"novel, short story
2013Alice Munro CanadaEnglish"master of the contemporary short story"short story
2014Patrick Modiano FranceFrench"for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation"novel
2015Svetlana Alexievich Belarus
(Born in Ukrainian SSR)
Russian"for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time" history, essay

Nobel laureates by country

The 112 Nobel laureates in literature from 1901 to 2015 have come from the following countries:

CountryNumber
France15
United States10
United Kingdom10
Germany8
Sweden8
Italy6
Spain6
Poland4
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

The 112 Nobel laureates in literature from 1901 to 2015 have written in the following languages:

LanguageNumber
English30
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.