Nobel Prize winners

A list of every winner of the Nobel prize of literature since the first award in 1901

The Nobel Prize in literature is awarded annually by Svenska Akademien to authors who have excelled in the field of literature. The prize is one of five Nobel prizes, established through Alfred Nobel's will in 1895. The other fields are physics, chemistry, peace and medicine.

1901Sully PrudhommeFranceFrench“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”
1902Theodor MommsenGermanyGerman“the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work, A history of Rome”
1903Bjørnstjerne BjørnsonNorwayNorwegian“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”
1904Frédéric MistralFranceOccitan“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”
1904José Echegaray y EizaguirreSpainSpanish“in recognition of the numerous and brilliant compositions which, in an individual and original manner, have revived the great traditions of the Spanish drama”
1905Henryk SienkiewiczPolandPolish“because of his outstanding merits as an epic writer”
1906Giosuè CarducciItalyItalian“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”
1907Rudyard KiplingGreat BritainEnglish“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”
1908Rudolf Christoph EuckenGermanyGerman“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”
1909Selma LagerlöfSwedenSwedish"in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings”
1910Paul von HeyseGermanyGerman“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”
1911Maurice MaeterlinckBelgiumFrench“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”
1912Gerhart HauptmannGermanyGerman“primarily in recognition of his fruitful, varied and outstanding production in the realm of dramatic art”
1913Rabindranath TagoreIndiaBengali“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”
1914No award
1915Romain RollandFranceFrench“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”
1916Verner von HeidenstamSwedenSwedish“in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature”
1917Karl Adolph GjellerupDenmarkDanish“for his varied and rich poetry, which is inspired by lofty ideals”
1917Henrik PontoppidanDenmarkDanish“for his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark”
1918No award
1919Carl SpittelerSwitzerlandGerman“in special appreciation of his epic, Olympian Spring”
1920Knut HamsunNorwayNorwegian“for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil”
1921Anatole FranceFranceFrench“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”
1922Jacinto BenaventeSpainSpanish“for the happy manner in which he has continued the illustrious traditions of the Spanish drama”
1923William Butler YeatsIrelandEnglish“for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”
1924Władysław ReymontPolandPolish“for his great national epic, The Peasants”
1925George Bernard ShawIrelandEnglish“for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty”
1926Grazia DeleddaItalyItalian“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”
1927Henri BergsonFranceFrench“in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented”
1928Sigrid UndsetNorwayNorwegian“principally for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages”
1929Thomas MannGermanyGerman“principally for his great novel, Buddenbrooks, which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature”
1930Sinclair LewisUSAEnglish“for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters”
1931Erik Axel KarlfeldtSwedenSwedish“The poetry of Erik Axel Karlfeldt”
1932John GalsworthyGreat BritainEnglish“for his bold and ingenious revival of dramatic and scenic art” “for his distinguished art of narration which takes its highest form in The Forsyte Saga”
1933Ivan BuninRussiaRussian“for the strict artistry with which he has carried on the classical Russian traditions in prose writing”
1934Luigi PirandelloItalyItalian“for his bold and ingenious revival of dramatic and scenic art”
1935No award
1936Eugene O'NeillUSAEnglish“for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy”
1937Roger Martin du GardFranceFrench“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”
1938Pearl BuckUSAEnglish“for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces”
1939Frans Eemil SillanpääFinlandFinnish“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”
1940No award
1941No award
1942No award
1943No award
1944Johannes V. JensenDenmarkDanish“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”
1945Gabriela MistralChileSpanish“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”
1946Hermann HesseSwitzerlandGerman“for his inspired writings which, while growing in boldness and penetration, exemplify the classical humanitarian ideals and high qualities of style”
1947André GideFranceFrench“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”
1948T.S. EliotGreat BritainEnglish“for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry”
1949William FaulknerUSAEnglish“for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel”
1950Bertrand RussellGreat BritainEnglish“in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought”
1951Pär LagerkvistSwedenSwedish“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”
1952François MauriacFranceFrench“for the deep spiritual insight and the artistic intensity with which he has in his novels penetrated the drama of human life”
1953Winston ChurchillGreat BritainEnglish“for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values”
1954Ernest HemingwayUSAEnglish“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”
1955Halldór LaxnessIcelandIcelandic“for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland”
1956Juan Ramón JiménezSpainSpanish“for his lyrical poetry, which in Spanish language constitutes an example of high spirit and artistical purity”
1957Albert CamusFranceFrench“for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times”
1958Boris PasternakSovietRussian“for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition”
1959Salvatore QuasimodoItalyItalian“for his lyrical poetry, which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times”
1960Saint-John PerseFranceFrench“for the soaring flight and the evocative imagery of his poetry which in a visionary fashion reflects the conditions of our time”
1961Ivo AndrićJugoslaviaSerbo-Croatian“for the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country”
1962John SteinbeckUSAEnglish“for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”
1963Giorgos SeferisGreeceGreek“for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture”
1964Jean-Paul Sartre (declined)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”
1965Mikhail SjolokhovSovietRussian“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”
1966Shmuel Yosef AgnonIsraelHebrew“for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people”
1966Nelly SachsSwedenGerman“for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel’s destiny with touching strength”
1967Miguel Ángel AsturiasGuatemalaSpanish“for his vivid literary achievement, deep-rooted in the national traits and traditions of Indian peoples of Latin America”
1968Kawabata YasunariJapanJapanese“for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind”
1969Samuel BeckettIrelandEnglish and French“for his writing, which – in new forms for the novel and drama – in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation”
1970Aleksandr SolzjenitsynSovietRussian“for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature”
1971Pablo NerudaChileSpanish“for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent’s destiny and dreams”
1972Heinrich BöllWest GermanyGerman“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”
1973Patrick WhiteAustraliaEnglish“for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature”
1974Eyvind JohnsonSwedenSwedish“for a narrative art, far-seeing in lands and ages, in the service of freedom”
SwedenSwedish“for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos”
1975Eugenio MontaleItalyItalian“for his distinctive poetry which, with great artistic sensitivity, has interpreted human values under the sign of an outlook on life with no illusions”
1976Saul BellowUSAEnglish“for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work”
1977Vicente AleixandreSpainSpanish“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”
1978Isaac Bashevis SingerUSAYiddish“for his impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life”
1979Odysseas ElytisGreeceGreek“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”
1980Czesław MiłoszPolandPolishwho with uncompromising clear-sightedness voices man’s exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts”
1981Elias CanettiBulgariaGerman“for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power”
1982Gabriel García MárquezColombiaSpanish“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”
1983William GoldingGreat BritainEnglish“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”
1984Jaroslav SeifertCzechoslovakiaCzech“for his poetry which endowed with freshness, sensuality and rich inventiveness provides a liberating image of the indomitable spirit and versatility of man”
1985Claude SimonFranceFrench“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”
1986Wole SoyinkaNigeriaEnglish“who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence”
1987Joseph BrodskyUSAEnglish and russian“for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity”
1988Naguib MahfouzEgyptArabic“who, through works rich in nuance – now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous – has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind”
1989Camilo José CelaSpainSpanish“for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man’s vulnerability”
1990Octavio PazMexicoSpanish“for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity”
1991Nadine GordimerSouth AfricaEnglish“who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity”
1992Derek WalcottSaint LuciaEnglish“for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment”
1993Toni MorrisonUSAEnglish“who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality”
1994Ōe KenzaburōJapanJapanese“who with poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today”
1995Seamus HeaneyIrelandEnglish“for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past”
1996Wisława SzymborskaPolandPolish“for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”
1997Dario FoItalyItalian“who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden”
1998José SaramagoPortugalPortugesewho with parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony continually enables us once again to apprehend an elusory reality”
1999Günter GrassGermanyGerman“whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history”
2000Gao XingjianFranceChinese“for an æuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama”
2001V.S. NaipaulGreat BritainEnglish“for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories”
2002Imre KertészHungaryHungarian“for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history”
2003J.M. CoetzeeSouth AfricaEnglish“who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider”
2004Elfriede JelinekAustriaGerman“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”
2005Harold PinterGreat BritainEnglish“who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms”
2006Orhan PamukTurkeyTurkish“who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures”
2007Doris LessingGreat BritainEnglish“that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny”
2008J.M.G. Le ClézioFrance / MauritiusFrench“author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization”
2009Herta MüllerGermanyGerman“who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed”
2010Mario Vargas LlosaPeru / Spanish“for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat”
2011Tomas TranströmerSwedenSwedish“because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality”
2012Mo YanChinaChinese“who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary”
2013Alice MunroCanadaEnglish“master of the contemporary short story”
2014Patrick ModianoFranceFrench“for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation”
2015Svetlana AleksijevitsjBelarusRussian“for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time”
2016Bob DylanUSAEnglish“for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”
2017Kazuo IshiguroGreat BritainEnglish“who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”
2018Olga TokarczukPolandPolish“for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life”
2019Peter HandkeAustriaGerman“for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience”
2020Louise GlückUSAEnglish«for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal»