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Alfred Nobel

Alfred Nobel -
The Man Behind
the Nobel Prize

Lists of Nobel Prizes and Laureates

Alfred Nobel 1833-1896

Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has been honoring men and women from all corners of the globe for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and for work in peace. The foundations for the prize were laid in 1895 when Alfred Nobel wrote his last will, leaving much of his wealth to the establishment of the Nobel Prize. But who was Alfred Nobel? Articles, photographs, a slide show and poetry written by Nobel himself are presented here to give a glimpse of a man whose varied interests are reflected in the prize he established.


Facts

Known for: The inventor of dynamite and holder of 355 patents.
Born: 21 October 1833.
Died: 10 December 1896.
Languages: Spoke five languages fluently at the age of 17.
Professions: Swedish chemist, inventor, engineer, entrepreneur, business man, author and pacifist.
Fortune: In his will he left 31 million SEK (today about 265 million dollar) to fund the prizes.

Life and Work of Alfred Nobel

Alfred Nobel and his family

When Alfred was five years old his father moved to St. Petersburg. Alfred joined him a few years later.

Early years in St. Petersburg
Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm

Was it because of his poor health, that Alfred Nobel instituted a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine?

Health and medicine
The Söder tunnel in Stockholm

Alfred Nobel was attracted to philosophical issues and read philosophical works with interest.

The philosopher
Dynamite logotype

An entirely new industry grew up, based on Alfred Nobel's patents and with Alfred as the initiator.

Dynamite companies
Excerpt from the handwritten will of Alfred Nobel

His Last Will

In his will of November 27, 1895 signed in Paris, Alfred Nobel specified that the bulk of his fortune should be divided into five parts and to be used for Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace to "those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind."

The content in Alfred Nobel's handwritten will

"Home is where I work and I work everywhere."
More aphorisms by Alfred Nobel.

Alfred Nobel and His Interest in Literature

Books

Private Library

After his death Alfred Nobel left a private library of over 1500 volumes, mostly fiction in the original language, works by the great writers of the 19th century, but also the classics and works by philosophers, theologians, historians and other scientists.

View complete lists of Alfred Nobel's private library
Handwritten poem in French from Harriett

Interest in Literature

Alfred Nobel was an anthusiastic reader and wrote his own dramatic works and poems.

Read an article about Alfred Nobel's writing skills
Young Alfred Nobel

Books on Alfred Nobel

A selection of publications about the work and life of Alfred Nobel.

List of books