The Nobel Prize in Literature – how well-read are you?


If you think you are well-read, prepare yourself to be humbled when you take a look at the complete list of winners of the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature, which has been presented to 110 writers since 1901. This year’s winner will be announced later this week, most likely on Thursday, October 9.

I am embarrassed to admit that I have not read anything by Alice Munro, last year’s Laureate. Some familiar names down the list made me feel a little better, including Toni Morrison, Harold Pinter, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Pearl Buck and Thomas Mann.

Here are a few interesting facts about the Nobel Prize in Literature:

  • The award is decided by the Swedish Academy in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • 13 women have received the award.
  • There have been 4 shared prizes.
  • Rudyard Kipling, best known for The Jungle Book, was the youngest Laureate to receive the prize at 42 years old.
  • Doris Lessing won the award when she was 88 years old in 2007.
  • Jean Paul Sartre declined to receive his award in 1964.
  • Boris Pasternak initially accepted his award in 1958, but it was later declined by the authorities of the Soviet Union.
  • The nominations and opinions of the Swedish Academy are kept secret for 50 years.

Here is the complete list of recipients:

2014       To be announced
2013       Alice Munro
2012       Mo Yan
2011       Tomas Tranströmer
2010       Mario Vargas Llosa
2009       Herta Müller
2008       Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio
2007       Doris Lessing
2006       Orhan Pamuk
2005       Harold Pinter
2004       Elfriede Jelinek
2003       John M. Coetzee
2002       Imre Kertész
2001       Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul
2000       Gao Xingjian
1999       Günter Grass
1998       José Saramago
1997       Dario Fo
1996       Wislawa Szymborska
1995       Seamus Heaney
1994       Kenzaburo Oe
1993       Toni Morrison
1992       Derek Walcott
1991       Nadine Gordimer
1990       Octavio Paz
1989       Camilo José Cela
1988       Naguib Mahfouz
1987       Joseph Brodsky
1986       Wole Soyinka
1985       Claude Simon
1984       Jaroslav Seifert
1983       William Golding
1982       Gabriel García Márquez
1981       Elias Canetti
1980       Czeslaw Milosz
1979       Odysseus Elytis
1978       Isaac Bashevis Singer
1977       Vicente Aleixandre
1976       Saul Bellow
1975       Eugenio Montale
1974       Eyvind Johnson/Harry Martinson
1973       Patrick White
1972       Heinrich Böll
1971       Pablo Neruda
1970       Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
1969       Samuel Beckett
1968       Yasunari Kawabata
1967       Miguel Angel Asturias
1966       Shmuel Yosef Agnon/Nelly Sachs
1965       Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov
1964       Jean-Paul Sartre
1963       Giorgos Seferis
1962       John Steinbeck
1961       Ivo Andric
1960       Saint-John Perse
1959       Salvatore Quasimodo
1958       Boris Leonidovich Pasternak
1957       Albert Camus
1956       Juan Ramón Jiménez
1955       Halldór Kiljan Laxness
1954       Ernest Miller Hemingway
1953       Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill
1952       François Mauriac
1951       Pär Fabian Lagerkvist
1950       Earl (Bertrand Arthur William) Russell
1949       William Faulkner
1948       Thomas Stearns Eliot
1947       André Paul Guillaume Gide
1946       Herman Hesse
1945       Gabriela Mistral
1944       Johannes Vilhelm Jensen
1943       No Nobel Prize awarded
1942       No Nobel Prize awarded
1941       No Nobel Prize awarded
1940       No Nobel Prize awarded
1939       Frans Eemil Sillanpää
1938       Pearl Buck
1937       Roger Martin du Gard
1936       Eugene Gladstone O’Neill
1935       No Nobel Prize awarded
1934       Luigi Pirandello
1933       Ivan Alekseyevich Bunin
1932       John Galsworthy
1931       Erik Axel Karlfeldt
1930       Sinclair Lewis
1929       Thomas Mann
1928       Sigrid Undset
1927       Henri Bergson
1926       Grazia Deledda
1925       George Barnard Shaw
1924       Wladyslaw Stanislaw Reymont
1923       William Butler Yeats
1922       Jacinto Benavente
1921       Anatole France
1920       Knut Pedersen Hamsun
1919       Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler
1918       No Nobel Prize awarded
1917       Karl Adolph Gjellerup/Henrik Pontoppidan
1916       Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam
1915       Romain Rolland
1914       No Nobel Prize awarded
1913       Rabindranath Tagore
1912       Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann
1911       Count Maurice (Mooris) Polldore Marie Bernhard Maeterlinck
1910       Paul Johann Ludwig Heyse
1909       Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf
1908       Rudolf Christoph Euken
1907       Rudyard Kipling
1906       Giosuѐ Carducci
1905       Henryk Sienkiewicz
1904       Frédéric Mistral/José Echegaray y Elizaguirre
1903       Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson
1902       Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen
1901       Sully Prudhomme

Here’s a link to the official site of the Nobel Prize:  I really enjoyed visiting this site.  It’s full of interesting facts and has a great layout.

I also enjoyed reading this recent article about the award and this year’s favorites:

How many of these authors have you read?  Thanks for visiting – come back soon!


4 thoughts on “The Nobel Prize in Literature – how well-read are you?

    1. My number is 18. I did read in the article I linked that some of the newer winners are not as mainstream because they haven’t been translated into English. Thanks for commenting!

  1. I’m not sure I’ve read a single thing on this list, and honestly I don’t feel bad about that. I liken it to when I was in school and someone thought I was a good candidate for the Junior Great Books program because I was a voracious reader. I took a look at the reading list and the discussion model, and nothing there appealed to me at all. Reading is such an intimate part of my life that I don’t feel the need to read books that are “recommended.” I read what speaks to my soul. I almost never read bestsellers, either. I appreciate seeing this list, though – thanks for the post!

    1. I definitely don’t feel guilty about not having read some of these authors. I also read what I want and I jump around according to whim. I do like a bestseller every now and then because it gives me an idea of what the reader trends are, but they can often be disappointing. But I love the classics the best and John Steinbeck is one of my favorites. Thanks for commenting!

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