The will of Alfred Nobel from 27 November, 1895

© Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

Nobel Prize facts

On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace – the Nobel Prizes. In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden’s central bank) established The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Learn more about the Nobel Laureates here.

603 Nobel Prizes

Between 1901 and 2020, the Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economic Sciences were awarded 603 times.

Nobel Prize Number of Prizes Number of Laureates Awarded to one Laureate Shared by two Laureates Shared by three Laureates
Physics 114 216 47 32 35
Chemistry 112 186 63 24 25
Medicine 111 222 39 33 39
Literature 113 117 109 4
Peace 101 107+28 69 30 2
Economic Sciences 52 86 25 20 7
Total: 603 962 352 143 108

In the statutes of the Nobel Foundation it says: “A prize amount may be equally divided between two works, each of which is considered to merit a prize. If a work that is being rewarded has been produced by two or three persons, the prize shall be awarded to them jointly. In no case may a prize amount be divided between more than three persons.”

962 Nobel Laureates

934 Laureates* and 28 organizations have been awarded the Nobel Prize between 1901 and 2020. Of them, 86 are Laureates in Economic Sciences. A small number of individuals and organizations have been honoured more than once, which means that 930 individuals and 25 unique organizations have received the Nobel Prize in total. See Multiple Nobel Laureates.

List of all Nobel Laureates
List of Nobel Prize awarded organizations

Lists of all Nobel Laureates in
| Physics | Chemistry | Physiology or Medicine | Literature | Peace | Economic Sciences |

Years without Nobel Prizes

Nobel Medal (17)
The Nobel Prize Medal. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud 2018 

Since the start, in 1901, there are some years when the Nobel Prizes have not been awarded. The total number of times are 49. Most of them during World War I (1914-1918) and II (1939-1945). In the statutes of the Nobel Foundation it says: “If none of the works under consideration is found to be of the importance indicated in the first paragraph, the prize money shall be reserved until the following year. If, even then, the prize cannot be awarded, the amount shall be added to the Foundation’s restricted funds.”.

Physics: 1916, 1931, 1934, 1940, 1941, 1942

Chemistry: 1916, 1917, 1919, 1924, 1933, 1940, 1941, 1942

Medicine: 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1921, 1925, 1940, 1941, 1942

Literature:  1914, 1918, 1935, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943

Peace: 1914, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1923, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1948, 1955, 1956, 1966, 1967, 1972

Economic Sciences:

Nobel Laureates and affiliation

Here you can find out which universities, research institutions or companies Nobel Laureates were affiliated with at the time of the Nobel Prize announcement.

Only Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, and Laureates in Economic Sciences are shown in the list.

Nobel Laureates listed by affiliation 1901-2017

The youngest Nobel Laureates

Age Name Category/Year Date of birth
17 Malala Yousafzai Peace 2014 12 July 1997
25 Lawrence Bragg Physics 1915 31 March 1890
25 Nadia Murad Peace 2018 1993
31 Werner Heisenberg Physics 1932 5 December 1901
31 Tsung-Dao Lee Physics 1957 24 November 1926
31 Carl D. Anderson Physics 1936 3 September 1905
31 Paul A. M. Dirac Physics 1933 8 August 1902
32 Frederick G. Banting Medicine 1923 14 November 1891
32 Tawakkol Karman Peace 2011 7 February 1979
32 Rudolf Mössbauer Physics 1961 31 January 1929
32 Mairead Corrigan Peace 1976 27 January 1944
33 Joshua Lederberg Medicine 1958 23 May 1925
33 Betty Williams Peace 1976 22 May 1943
33 Rigoberta Menchú Tum Peace 1992 9 January 1959
Category Name Year of Award Age of Nobel Laureate
Physics William Lawrence Bragg 1915 25
Chemistry Frédéric Joliot 1935 35
Physiology or Medicine Frederick Banting 1923 32
Literature Rudyard Kipling 1907 41
Peace Malala Yousafzai 2014 17
Economic Sciences Esther Duflo 2019 46

The oldest Nobel Laureates

Age Name Category/Year Date of birth
97 John B. Goodenough Chemistry 2019 1922
96 Arthur Ashkin Physics 2018 2 September 1922
90 Leonid Hurwicz Economic Sciences 2007 21 August 1917
89 Lloyd Shapley Economic Sciences 2012 2 June 1923
88 Raymond Davis Jr. Physics 2002 14 October 1914
88 Doris Lessing Literature 2007 22 October 1919
87 Yoichiro Nambu Physics 2008 18 January 1921
87 Vitaly L. Ginzburg Physics 2003 4 October 1916
87 Peyton Rous Medicine 1966 5 October 1879
87 Joseph Rotblat Peace 1995 4 November 1908
87 Karl von Frisch Medicine 1973 20 November 1886
85 Ferdinand Buisson Peace 1927 20 December 1841
85 John B. Fenn Chemistry 2002 15 June 1917
85 Theodor Mommsen Literature 1902 30 November 1817
85 Willard S. Boyle Physics 2009 19 August 1929
Category Name Year of Award Age of Nobel Laureate
Physics Arthur Ashkin 2018 96
Chemistry John B. Goodenough 2019 97
Physiology or Medicine Peyton Rous 1966 87
Literature Doris Lessing 2007 88
Peace Joseph Rotblat 1995 87
Economic Sciences Leonid Hurwicz 2007 90

57 Nobel Prizes to women

Between 1901 and 2020 the Nobel Prize and Prize in Economic Sciences have been awarded 57 times to women.

List of all female Nobel Laureates

Svetlana Alexievich
Svetlana Alexievich. © Nobel Media AB. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud.

Two Nobel Laureates declined the prize

Jean-Paul Sartre, awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature, declined the prize because he had consistently declined all official honours.

Le Duc Tho, awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. They were awarded the Prize for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord. Le Duc Tho said that he was not in a position to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, citing the situation in Vietnam as his reason.

Forced to decline the Nobel Prize

Four Nobel Laureates have been forced by authorities to decline the Nobel Prize. Adolf Hitler forbade three German Nobel Laureates, Richard Kuhn, Adolf Butenandt and Gerhard Domagk, from accepting the Nobel Prize. All of them could later receive the Nobel Prize Diploma and Medal, but not the prize amount.

Boris Pasternak, the 1958 Nobel Laureate in Literature, initially accepted the Nobel Prize but was later coerced by the authorities of the Soviet Union, his native country, to decline the Nobel Prize.

Nobel Laureates under arrest at the time of the award

Three Nobel Laureates were under arrest at the time of the award of the Nobel Prize, all of them Nobel Peace Prize Laureates:

German pacifist and journalist Carl von Ossietzky
Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi
Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo

Multiple Nobel Laureates

The work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been honoured by a Nobel Peace Prize three times. Besides, the founder of the ICRC, Henry Dunant, was awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.

Linus Pauling is the only person to have been awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes – the 1954 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize.

J. Bardeen M. Curie L. Pauling
J. Bardeen M. Curie L. Pauling
Physics 1956
Physics 1972
Physics 1903
Chemistry 1911
Chemistry 1954
Peace 1962
F. Sanger ICRC logo UNHCR logo
Chemistry 1958
Chemistry 1980
Peace 1917
Peace 1944
Peace 1963
Peace 1954
Peace 1981

Posthumous Nobel Prizes

From 1974, the Statutes of the Nobel Foundation stipulate that a Prize cannot be awarded posthumously, unless death has occurred after the announcement of the Nobel Prize. Before 1974, the Nobel Prize has only been awarded posthumously twice: to Dag Hammarskjöld (Nobel Peace Prize 1961) and Erik Axel Karlfeldt (Nobel Prize in Literature 1931).

Following the 2011 announcement of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, it was discovered that one of the Medicine Laureates, Ralph Steinman, had passed away three days earlier. The Board of the Nobel Foundation examined the statutes, and an interpretation of the purpose of the rule above led to the conclusion that Ralph Steinman should continue to remain a Nobel Laureate, as the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet had announced the 2011 Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine without knowing of his death.

“Family Nobel Laureates”

The Curies were a very successful ‘Nobel Prize family’. Marie Curie herself was awarded two Nobel Prizes.

Read more about Marie and Pierre Curie and the discovery of polonium and radium

More about Nobel Prize awarded couples

The Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies

On December 10, 1901, the Nobel Prizes were awarded for the first time in Stockholm and in Christiania (now Oslo) respectively.

The Prize Award Ceremony in Stockholm took place at the Old Royal Academy of Music during the years 1901-1925. Since 1926, the ceremony has taken place at the Stockholm Concert Hall with few exceptions: 1971in the Philadelphia Church; 1972 in the St. Erik International Fair (known today as Stockholm International Fairs) in Älvsjö, 1975 in the St. Erik International Fair and in 1991 at the Stockholm Globe Arena. The King of Sweden hands over the Prize to the laureate/s.

In Norway, during the years 1901-1904 the decision on the Peace Prize was announced at a meeting of the Storting on 10 December, after which the recipients were informed in writing. During 1905-1946 the Prize Award Ceremonies were held at the Nobel Institute building, during 1947-1989 in the auditorium of the University of Oslo and since 1990 at the Oslo City Hall. The King of Norway is present, but it is the Chairman of the Nobel Committee who hands over the Prize to the laureate/s.

Ceremonies archive

AM Nobel Week 2017 0877 edited for website

The 2017 Nobel Prize award ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden. © Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

The Nobel Prize insignias

At the Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies on 10 December the Nobel Laureates receive three things: a Nobel diploma, a Nobel Medal and a document confirming the Nobel Prize amount. Each Nobel diploma is a unique work of art, created by foremost Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers. The Nobel Medals are handmade with careful precision and in 18 carat recycled gold.

The Nobel Medals in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine and Literature are identical on the face: it shows the image of Alfred Nobel and the years of his birth and death (1833-1896). Nobel’s portrait also appears on the Nobel Peace Prize Medal and the Medal for the Prize in Economic Sciences, but with a slightly different design. The image on the reverse varies according to the institution awarding the prize.

More about the Nobel Medals

The Nobel diplomas

Each Nobel diploma is a unique work of art, created by foremost Swedish and Norwegian artists and calligraphers.

More about the Nobel diplomas

Leymah Gbowee - Nobel Diploma
Leymah Gbowee – Nobel Diploma. Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2011, Artist: Jan Trygve Fløysvik, Calligrapher: Inger Magnus, Book binder: Julius Johansen, Photo reproduction: Thomas Widerberg 

The Nobel Prize amount

Alfred Nobel left most of his estate, more than SEK 31 million (today approximately SEK 1,702 million) to be converted into a fund and invested in “safe securities.” The income from the investments was to be “distributed annually in the form of prizes to those who during the preceding year have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.”

The Nobel Prize amount for 2020 is set at Swedish kronor (SEK) 10.0 million per full Nobel Prize.

More about the Nobel Prize amount

* Why are the individuals and organisations awarded a Nobel Prize called Nobel Laureates?

The word “Laureate” refers to being signified by the laurel wreath. In Greek mythology, the god Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head. A laurel wreath is a circular crown made of branches and leaves of the bay laurel (in Latin: Laurus nobilis). In Ancient Greece, laurel wreaths were awarded to victors as a sign of honour – both in athletic competitions and in poetic meets.

Links to more facts on the Nobel Prizes:
Facts on the Nobel Prize in Physics
Facts on the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Facts on the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
Facts on the Nobel Prize in Literature
Facts on the Nobel Peace Prize
Facts on the Prize in Economic Sciences
Facts on all Nobel Prizes


First published 5 October 2009.