The Nobel Prize in Literature

1966 Literature Laureate Nelly Sachs' amethyst stones inspired her writing by giving her feeling of safety and comfort.

© Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

About the prize

“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.

See all literature laureates or learn about the nomination process.

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Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's LP record was a gift to Stig Fredriksson, who had helped smuggle his Nobel Lecture out of the Soviet Union.

© Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2020

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2020 was awarded to the American poet Louise Glück “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”.

Literature laureate Louise Glück outside her home

The Nobel Prize medal and diploma were presented to literature laureate Louise Glück outside her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

© Nobel Prize Outreach. Photo: Daniel Ebersole

Discover more

Doris Lessing talks about her early days as a writer – working on her first book ‘The Grass is Singing’ – and more.

Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing at her home in London, 14 April 2008.

© Nobel Media.

‘Sula’ is the hugely influential second novel from one of the most powerful literary forces of our time.

Toni Morrison speaking

Toni Morrison speaking at 'A Tribute to Chinua Achebe – 50 Years Anniversary of ‘Things Fall Apart.'

Photo: Angela Radulescu