Nobel Prize for Literature Recipients

There are Word People, and then there are Word Giants! Each year, one writer receives the Nobel Prize for Literature. Take a minute to review this list of all the past recipients of writing’s most prestigious award. Did your favorite author make the grade?

2019 Nobel Prize in Literature

Peter Handke “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience.”

2018 Nobel Prize in Literature

No Nobel Laureate for Literature was announced in 2018.

2017 Nobel Prize in Literature

Kazuo Ishiguro: “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”

2016 Nobel Prize in Literature

Bob Dylan: “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”

2015 Nobel Prize in Literature

Svetlana Alexievich: “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time”

2014 Nobel Prize in Literature

Patrick Modiano: “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation”

2013 Nobel Prize in Literature

Alice Munro: “master of the contemporary short story”

2012 Nobel Prize in Literature

Mo Yan: “who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary”

2011 Nobel Prize in Literature

Tomas Tranströmer: “because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality”

2010 Nobel Prize in Literature

Mario Vargas Llosa: “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat”

2009 Nobel Prize in Literature

Herta Müller: “who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed”

2008 Nobel Prize in Literature

Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio: “author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization”

2007 Nobel Prize in Literature

Doris Lessing: “that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny”

2006 Nobel Prize in Literature

Orhan Pamuk: “who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures”

2005 Nobel Prize in Literature

Harold Pinter: “who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms”

2004 Nobel Prize in Literature

Elfriede Jelinek: “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”

2003 Nobel Prize in Literature

John M. Coetzee: “who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider”

2002 Nobel Prize in Literature

Imre Kertész: “for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history”

2001 Nobel Prize in Literature

Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul: “for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories”

2000 Nobel Prize in Literature

Gao Xingjian: “for an æuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama”

1999 Nobel Prize in Literature

Günter Grass: “whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history”

1998 Nobel Prize in Literature

José Saramago: “who with parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony continually enables us once again to apprehend an elusory reality”

1997 Nobel Prize in Literature

Dario Fo: “who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden”

1996 Nobel Prize in Literature

Wislawa Szymborska: “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”

1995 Nobel Prize in Literature

Seamus Heaney: “for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past”

1994 Nobel Prize in Literature

Kenzaburo Oe: “who with poetic force creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today”

1993 Nobel Prize in Literature

Toni Morrison: “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality”

1992 Nobel Prize in Literature

Derek Walcott: “for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment”

1991 Nobel Prize in Literature

Nadine Gordimer: “who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity”

1990 Nobel Prize in Literature

Octavio Paz: “for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity”

1989 Nobel Prize in Literature

Camilo José Cela: “for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man’s vulnerability”

1988 Nobel Prize in Literature

Naguib Mahfouz: “who, through works rich in nuance – now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous – has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind”

1987 Nobel Prize in Literature

Joseph Brodsky: “for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity”

1986 Nobel Prize in Literature

Wole Soyinka: “who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence”

1985 Nobel Prize in Literature

Claude Simon: “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”

1984 Nobel Prize in Literature

Jaroslav Seifert: “for his poetry which endowed with freshness, sensuality and rich inventiveness provides a liberating image of the indomitable spirit and versatility of man”

1983 Nobel Prize in Literature

William Golding: “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”

1982 Nobel Prize in Literature

Gabriel García Márquez: “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”

1981 Nobel Prize in Literature

Elias Canetti: “for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power”

1980 Nobel Prize in Literature

Czeslaw Milosz: “who with uncompromising clear-sightedness voices man’s exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts”

1979 Nobel Prize in Literature

Odysseus Elytis: “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”

1978 Nobel Prize in Literature

Isaac Bashevis Singer: “for his impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life”

1977 Nobel Prize in Literature

Vicente Aleixandre: “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”

1976 Nobel Prize in Literature

Saul Bellow: “for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work”

1975 Nobel Prize in Literature

Eugenio Montale: “for his distinctive poetry which, with great artistic sensitivity, has interpreted human values under the sign of an outlook on life with no illusions”

1974 Nobel Prize in Literature

Eyvind Johnson: “for a narrative art, far-seeing in lands and ages, in the service of freedom”


Harry Martinson: “for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos”


1973 Nobel Prize in Literature

Patrick White: “for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature”

1972 Nobel Prize in Literature

Heinrich Böll: “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”

1971 Nobel Prize in Literature

Pablo Neruda: “for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent’s destiny and dreams”

1970 Nobel Prize in Literature

Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn: “for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature”

1969 Nobel Prize in Literature

Samuel Beckett: “for his writing, which – in new forms for the novel and drama – in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation”

1968 Nobel Prize in Literature

Yasunari Kawabata: “for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind”

1967 Nobel Prize in Literature

Miguel Angel Asturias: “for his vivid literary achievement, deep-rooted in the national traits and traditions of Indian peoples of Latin America”

1966 Nobel Prize in Literature

Shmuel Yosef Agnon: “for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people”


Nelly Sachs: “for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel’s destiny with touching strength”


1965 Nobel Prize in Literature

Mikhail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov: “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”

1964 Nobel Prize in Literature

Jean-Paul Sartre: “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”

1963 Nobel Prize in Literature

Giorgos Seferis: “for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture”

1962 Nobel Prize in Literature

John Steinbeck: “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”

1961 Nobel Prize in Literature

Ivo Andric: “for the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country”

1960 Nobel Prize in Literature

Saint-John Perse: “for the soaring flight and the evocative imagery of his poetry which in a visionary fashion reflects the conditions of our time”

1959 Nobel Prize in Literature

Salvatore Quasimodo: “for his lyrical poetry, which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times”

1958 Nobel Prize in Literature

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak: “for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition”

1957 Nobel Prize in Literature

Albert Camus: “for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times”

1956 Nobel Prize in Literature

Juan Ramón Jiménez: “for his lyrical poetry, which in Spanish language constitutes an example of high spirit and artistical purity”

1955 Nobel Prize in Literature

Halldór Kiljan Laxness: “for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland”

1954 Nobel Prize in Literature

Ernest Miller Hemingway: “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”

1953 Nobel Prize in Literature

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill: “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values”

1952 Nobel Prize in Literature

François Mauriac: “for the deep spiritual insight and the artistic intensity with which he has in his novels penetrated the drama of human life”

1951 Nobel Prize in Literature

Pär Fabian Lagerkvist: “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”

1950 Nobel Prize in Literature

Earl (Bertrand Arthur William) Russell: “in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought”

1949 Nobel Prize in Literature

William Faulkner: “for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel”

1948 Nobel Prize in Literature

Thomas Stearns Eliot: “for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry”

1947 Nobel Prize in Literature

André Paul Guillaume Gide: “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”

1946 Nobel Prize in Literature

Hermann Hesse: “for his inspired writings which, while growing in boldness and penetration, exemplify the classical humanitarian ideals and high qualities of style”

1945 Nobel Prize in Literature

Gabriela Mistral: “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”

1944 Nobel Prize in Literature

Johannes Vilhelm Jensen: “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”

1943 Nobel Prize in Literature

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

1942 Nobel Prize in Literature

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

1941 Nobel Prize in Literature

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

1940 Nobel Prize in Literature

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

1939 Nobel Prize in Literature

Frans Eemil Sillanpää: “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”

1938 Nobel Prize in Literature

Pearl Buck: “for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces”

1937 Nobel Prize in Literature

Roger Martin du Gard: “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

1936 Nobel Prize in Literature

Eugene Gladstone O’Neill: “for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy”

1935 Nobel Prize in Literature

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was with 1/3 allocated to the Main Fund and with 2/3 to the Special Fund of this prize section.

1934 Nobel Prize in Literature

Luigi Pirandello: “for his bold and ingenious revival of dramatic and scenic art”

1933 Nobel Prize in Literature

Ivan Alekseyevich Bunin: “for the strict artistry with which he has carried on the classical Russian traditions in prose writing”

1932 Nobel Prize in Literature

John Galsworthy: “for his distinguished art of narration which takes its highest form in The Forsyte Saga

1931 Nobel Prize in Literature

Erik Axel Karlfeldt: “The poetry of Erik Axel Karlfeldt”

1930 Nobel Prize in Literature

Sinclair Lewis: “for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters”

1929 Nobel Prize in Literature

Thomas Mann: “principally for his great novel, Buddenbrooks, which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature”

1928 Nobel Prize in Literature

Sigrid Undset: “principally for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages”

1927 Nobel Prize in Literature

Henri Bergson: “in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented”

1926 Nobel Prize in Literature

Grazia Deledda: “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”

1925 Nobel Prize in Literature

George Bernard Shaw: “for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty”

1924 Nobel Prize in Literature

Wladyslaw Stanislaw Reymont: “for his great national epic, The Peasants

1923 Nobel Prize in Literature

William Butler Yeats: “for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”

1922 Nobel Prize in Literature

Jacinto Benavente: “for the happy manner in which he has continued the illustrious traditions of the Spanish drama”

1921 Nobel Prize in Literature

Anatole France: “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”

1920 Nobel Prize in Literature

Knut Pedersen Hamsun: “for his monumental work, Growth of the Soil

1919 Nobel Prize in Literature

Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler: “in special appreciation of his epic, Olympian Spring

1918 Nobel Prize in Literature

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.

1917 Nobel Prize in Literature

Karl Adolph Gjellerup: “for his varied and rich poetry, which is inspired by lofty ideals”


Henrik Pontoppidan: “for his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark”


1916 Nobel Prize in Literature

Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam: “in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature”

1915 Nobel Prize in Literature

Romain Rolland: “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”

1914 Nobel Prize in Literature

No Nobel Prize was awarded this year. The prize money was allocated to the Special Fund of this prize section.

1913 Nobel Prize in Literature

Rabindranath Tagore: “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”

1912 Nobel Prize in Literature

Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann: “primarily in recognition of his fruitful, varied and outstanding production in the realm of dramatic art”

1911 Nobel Prize in Literature

Count Maurice (Mooris) Polidore Marie Bernhard Maeterlinck: “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”

1910 Nobel Prize in Literature

Paul Johann Ludwig Heyse: “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”

1909 Nobel Prize in Literature

Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf: “in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings”

1908 Nobel Prize in Literature

Rudolf Christoph Eucken: “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”

1907 Nobel Prize in Literature

Rudyard Kipling: “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”

1906 Nobel Prize in Literature

Giosuè Carducci: “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”

1905 Nobel Prize in Literature

Henryk Sienkiewicz: “because of his outstanding merits as an epic writer”

1904 Nobel Prize in Literature

Frédéric Mistral: “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”


José Echegaray y Eizaguirre: “in recognition of the numerous and brilliant compositions which, in an individual and original manner, have revived the great traditions of the Spanish drama”


1903 Nobel Prize in Literature

Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson: “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”

1902 Nobel Prize in Literature

Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen: “the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work, A history of Rome

1901 Nobel Prize in Literature

Sully Prudhomme: “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”


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