Maurice Maeterlinck


Count Maurice (Mooris) Polidore Marie Bernhard Maeterlinck

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Count Maurice (Mooris) Polidore Marie Bernhard Maeterlinck
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1911

Born: 29 August 1862, Ghent, Belgium

Died: 6 May 1949, Nice, France

Residence at the time of the award: Belgium

Prize motivation: “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”

Language: French

Prize share: 1/1


As a young man, Maurice Maeterlink attended a Jesuit convent school and then studied law, as his parents wished. After a couple of years, he abandoned the legal track to become a writer and made his debut with the play La Princesse Maleine (1889). Together with actress Georgette Leblanc, he spent a few summers in Normandy in an old monastery that the church had given him permission to use. There he presented his plays under the direction of Leblanc. Maeterlinck then married Renée Dahon, also an actress.


Maeterlinck was a symbolist and agnostic who, in dreamlike dramas and poetry, examined the inner life of humankind and the subconscious. Milieus and epochs in his dramas are often fluid and indeterminate, which strengthens the symbolism. He dedicated himself to creating moods rather than to describing reality. Some of his dramas were written for puppets because Maeterlinck believed that human actors would stand in the way of the symbolic. In addition, he argued that the puppets were a powerful image of humankind’s dependence on fate.

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