Literature Laureate
Collage of Literature Laureates

Who are they and what did they write?

See all Nobel Laureates in Literature and why they were awarded the Nobel Prize.

All Nobel Laureates in Literature


Awards: 109 Prizes to 113 Laureates
Awarded women: 14
Shared prizes: 2

More facts on the Nobel Prize in Literature
The Nobel Prize Medal for Literature. Registered trademark of the Nobel Foundation. © ® The Nobel Foundation

The Nobel Prize in Literature

Awarded to 113 Nobel Laureates since 1901

"The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: /- - -/ one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction ..."

(Excerpt from the will of Alfred Nobel)

Alfred Nobel had broad cultural interests. During his early youth, he developed his literary interests which lasted throughout his life. His library consisted of a rich and broad selection of literature in different languages. During the last years of his life, he tried his hand as an author and began writing fiction. Literature was the fourth prize area Nobel mentioned in his will.

The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded by the Swedish Academy, Stockholm, Sweden.

2016 Literature Prize

Bob Dylan. Photo: William Claxton Photo: William Claxton

"for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition"

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 was awarded to Bob Dylan.

Bio-bibliographical notes

Sara Danius

"He can be read and should be read, and is a great poet in the English tradition"

Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, about the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature to Bob Dylan.

Watch the interview
Bob Dylan. Ill: N. Elmehed. © Nobel Media 2016 Ill: N. Elmehed. © Nobel Media 2016

"I'm sorry I can't be with you in person"

Bob Dylan's speech at the Nobel Banquet was delivered by the United States Ambassador to Sweden Azita Raji.

Read Bob Dylan's speech

Recommend a Book!

Hav you read anything by Bob Dylan or by another author awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature?

Tell us about your favourite book!

Peter Englund. Peter Englund

How do you find authors worthy a Literature Prize?

Peter Englund, former Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, answers frequently asked questions about the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Read Peter Englund's answers

Did You Know?


Nobel Prizes in Literature have been awarded 1901-2016.


women have been awarded the Literature Prize so far.


Literature Prizes have been divided between two persons.


years was the age of the youngest Literature Laureate ever, Rudyard Kipling, best known for The Jungle Book.


years was the age of the oldest Literature Laureate ever, Doris Lessing, when she was awarded the Prize in 2007.


is the average age of the Nobel Laureates in Literature the year they were awarded the prize.

All facts and figures on the Nobel Prize in Literature


"The Most Outstanding Work"

Alfred Nobel's prescriptions for the Literature Prize were quite vague. In fact, the history of the Literature Prize appears as a series of attempts to interpret an imprecisely worded will.

More about Alfred Nobel's Will and the Literature Prize

2015 Literature Prize

Svetlana Alexievich. Photo: A. Mahmoud.

"for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time"

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2015 was awarded to the Belarusian author Svetlana Alexievich.

Press release
Bio-biographical information

"The poetics of tragedy are important for me"

Interview with Svetlana Alexievich, awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature, while the taxi waited outside to take her to the press conference.

Transcript of the interview
Svetlana Alexievich delivering her Nobel Lecture

"Flaubert called himself a human pen; I would say that I am a human ear"

Read Svetlana Alexievich's Nobel Lecture 'On the Battle Lost'.

Nobel Lecture by Svetlana Alexievich

"There was a black cloud, and hard rain"

Not familiar with Svetlana Alexievich's work? Here, you can read an excerpt from her book Voices from Chernobyl.

Read the excerpt

2014 Literature Prize

Patrick Modiano.

"for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies"

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2014 was awarded to Patrick Modiano.

Biobibliographical notes
Patrick Modiano reading

"Missing, a young girl, Dora Bruder, age 15"

Memory, identity and time are central themes for Patrick Modiano. Read, or listen to, an excerpt from his book Dora Bruder.

Excerpt from the book

Patrick Modiano's Nobel Diploma

Designs Related to Each Laureate

In the Nobel Diplomas, the artists try to summarize something of the atmosphere and character of each author's works.

Have a closer look at Patrick Modiano's diploma

World map

Language: French

Patrick Modiano writes in French. Most common languages for the 111 Literature Laureates:

  • 27 Laureates write in English
  • 14 Laureates write in French
  • 13 Laureates write in German
  • 11 Laureates write in Spanish

Literature Laureates and languages

Have You Read William Golding's Lord of the Flies?

Lord of the Flies Game

Lord of the Flies Game

The aim of this game is to introduce some basic analytical aspects of the book and to challenge the reader's memory through play.

Play the Lord of the Flies Game!

Recommend a Book!

Have you read anything by William Golding or by another author awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature?

Tell us about your favorite book!
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"Still Relevant and Powerful Today - Simply Genius"

Discover our visitors' thoughts about Lord of the Flies and many other books.

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