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

Year Picture Laureate Country Language(s) Citation Genre(s)
1901 Sully Prudhomme France French "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
1902 Theodor Mommsen Germany German "the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work, A History of Rome " history, law
1903 Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson Norway Norwegian "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
1904 Frédéric Mistral France Provençal "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 Spain Spanish "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
1905 Henryk Sienkiewicz Poland Polish "because of his outstanding merits as an epic writer" novel
1906 Giosuè Carducci Italy Italian "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
1907 Rudyard 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
1908 Rudolf Christoph Eucken Germany German "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
1909 Selma Lagerlöf Sweden Swedish "in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings" novel, short story
1910 Paul von Heyse Germany German "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
1911 Maurice Maeterlinck Belgium French "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
1912 Gerhart Hauptmann Germany German "primarily in recognition of his fruitful, varied and outstanding production in the realm of dramatic art" drama, novel
1913 Rabindranath Tagore India Bengali 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
1914 Not awarded
1915 Romain Rolland France French "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
1916 Verner von Heidenstam Sweden Swedish "in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature" poetry, novel
1917 Karl Adolph Gjellerup Denmark Danish "for his varied and rich poetry, which is inspired by lofty ideals" poetry
Henrik Pontoppidan Denmark Danish "for his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark" novel
1918 Not awarded
1919 Carl Spitteler Switzerland German "in special appreciation of his epic, Olympian Spring " poetry
1920 Knut Hamsun Norway Norwegian "for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil " novel
1921 Anatole France France French "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
1922 Jacinto Benavente Spain Spanish "for the happy manner in which he has continued the illustrious traditions of the Spanish drama" drama
1923 William Butler Yeats Ireland English "for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation" poetry
1924 Władysław Reymont Poland Polish "for his great national epic, The Peasants " novel
1925 George Bernard Shaw Ireland English "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
1926 Grazia Deledda Italy Italian "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
1927 Henri Bergson France French "in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented" philosophy
1928 Sigrid Undset Norway
(Born in Denmark)
Norwegian "principally for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages" novel
1929 Thomas Mann Germany German "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
1930 Sinclair Lewis United States English "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
1931 Erik Axel Karlfeldt Sweden Swedish "The poetry of Erik Axel Karlfeldt" poetry
1932 John Galsworthy United Kingdom English "for his distinguished art of narration, which takes its highest form in The Forsyte Saga " novel
1933 Ivan 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
1934 Luigi Pirandello Italy Italian "for his bold and ingenious revival of dramatic and scenic art" drama, novel, short story
1935 Not awarded
1936 Eugene O'Neill United States English "for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy" drama
1937 Roger Martin du Gard France French "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
1938 Pearl S. Buck United States English "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces" novel, biography
1939 Frans Eemil Sillanpää Finland Finnish "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
1940 Not awarded
1941 Not awarded
1942 Not awarded
1943 Not awarded
1944 Johannes Vilhelm Jensen Denmark Danish "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
1945 Gabriela Mistral Chile Spanish "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
1946 Hermann 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
1947 André Gide France French "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
1948 T. S. Eliot United Kingdom
(Born in the United States)
English "for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry" poetry
1949 William Faulkner United States English "for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel" novel, short story
1950 Bertrand Russell United Kingdom English "in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought" philosophy
1951 Pär Lagerkvist Sweden Swedish "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
1952 François Mauriac France French "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
1953 Sir Winston Churchill United Kingdom English "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values" history, essay, memoirs
1954 Ernest Hemingway United States English "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
1955 Halldór Laxness Iceland Icelandic "for his vivid epic power, which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland" novel, short story, drama, poetry
1956 Juan 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
1957 Albert 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
1958 Boris Pasternak Soviet Union Russian "for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition" novel, poetry, translation
1959 Salvatore Quasimodo Italy Italian "for his lyrical poetry, which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times" poetry
1960 Saint-John Perse France French "for the soaring flight and the evocative imagery of his poetry, which in a visionary fashion reflects the conditions of our time" poetry
1961 Ivo 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
1962 John Steinbeck United States English "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception" novel, short story, screenplay
1963 Giorgos 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
1964 Jean-Paul Sartre France French "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
1965 Mikhail Sholokhov Soviet Union Russian "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
1966 Shmuel 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
1967 Miguel Ángel Asturias Guatemala Spanish "for his vivid literary achievement, deep-rooted in the national traits and traditions of Indian peoples of Latin America" novel, poetry
1968 Yasunari Kawabata Japan Japanese "for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind" novel, short story
1969 Samuel Beckett Ireland English 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
1970 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Soviet Union Russian "for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature" novel
1971 Pablo Neruda Chile Spanish "for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams" poetry
1972 Heinrich 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
1973 Patrick 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
1974 Eyvind Johnson Sweden Swedish "for a narrative art, farseeing in lands and ages, in the service of freedom" novel
Harry Martinson Sweden Swedish "for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos" poetry, novel, drama
1975 Eugenio Montale Italy Italian "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
1976 Saul 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
1977 Vicente Aleixandre Spain Spanish "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
1978 Isaac 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
1979 Odysseas Elytis Greece Greek "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
1980 Czesław Miłosz Poland Polish "who with uncompromising clear-sightedness voices man's exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts" poetry, essay
1981 Elias 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
1982 Gabriel García Márquez Colombia Spanish "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
1983 William Golding United Kingdom English "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
1984 Jaroslav 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
1985 Claude 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
1986 Wole Soyinka Nigeria English "who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence" drama, novel, poetry
1987 Joseph 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
1988 Naguib Mahfouz Egypt Arabic "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
1989 Camilo José Cela Spain Spanish "for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man's vulnerability" novel, short story
1990 Octavio Paz Mexico Spanish "for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity" poetry, essay
1991 Nadine Gordimer South Africa English "who through her magnificent epic writing has - in the words of Alfred Nobel - been of very great benefit to humanity" novel, short story, essay
1992 Derek Walcott Saint Lucia English "for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment" poetry, drama
1993 Toni Morrison United States English "who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality" novel
1994 Kenzaburō Ōe Japan Japanese "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
1995 Seamus 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
1996 Wisława Szymborska Poland Polish "for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality" poetry
1997 Dario Fo Italy Italian "who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden" drama
1998 José Saramago Portugal Portuguese "who with parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony continually enables us once again to apprehend an elusory reality" novel, drama, poetry
1999 Günter Grass Germany German "whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history" novel, drama, poetry
2000 Gao 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
2001 Sir 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
2002 Imre Kertész Hungary Hungarian "for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history" novel
2003 J. M. Coetzee South Africa English "who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider" novel, essay, translation
2004 Elfriede Jelinek Austria German "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
2005 Harold Pinter United Kingdom English "who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms" drama
2006 Orhan Pamuk Turkey Turkish "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
2007 Doris 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
2008 J. 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
2009 Herta 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
2010 Mario 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
2011 Tomas Tranströmer Sweden Swedish "because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality" poetry, translation
2012 Mo Yan China Chinese "who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary" novel, short story
2013 Alice Munro Canada English "master of the contemporary short story" short story
2014 Patrick Modiano France French "for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation" novel
2015 Svetlana 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:

Country Number
France 15
United States 10
United Kingdom 10
Germany 8
Sweden 8
Italy 6
Spain 6
Poland 4
Ireland 4
Russia/USSR 4
Denmark 3
Norway 3
China 2
Japan 2
South Africa 2
Greece 2
Chile 2
Switzerland 2
Belgium 1
India 1
Finland 1
Iceland 1
Yugoslavia 1
Israel 1
Turkey 1
Guatemala 1
Australia 1
Bulgaria 1
Colombia 1
Czechoslovakia 1
Nigeria 1
Egypt 1
Mexico 1
Saint Lucia 1
Portugal 1
Hungary 1
Austria 1
Mauritius 1
Peru 1
Canada 1
Belarus 1

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:

Language Number
English 30
French 16
German 13
Spanish 11
Swedish 7
Italian 6
Russian 6
Polish 4
Danish 3
Norwegian 3
Chinese 2
Greek 2
Japanese 2
Arabic 1
Bengali 1
Czech 1
Finnish 1
Hebrew 1
Hungarian 1
Icelandic 1
Provençal 1
Portuguese 1
Serbo-Croatian 1
Turkish 1
Yiddish 1

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.