The Nobel Prize in Literature 1921
Born: 16 April 1844, Paris, France
Died: 12 October 1924, Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire, France
Residence at the time of the award: France
Prize motivation: "in recognition of his brilliant literary achievements, characterized as they are by a nobility of style, a profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament."
Prize share: 1/1
Anatole France was born in Paris. His father managed a bookstore that was frequented by many notable writers and specialized in books and papers on the French Revolution. After graduating from Collège Stanislas, France worked in his father’s bookstore. In 1876, he was appointed librarian for the French Senate. France began his literary career as a poet and a journalist. He took an important part in the Dreyfus affair, supporting Émile Zola’s manifesto and writing about it in the novel Monsieur Bergeret (1901).
Anatole France had written several stories and novels before he achieved his first great success with Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard (1881). Although France is chiefly known as a novelist and storyteller, his literary output was extensive as he explored many literary genres. After 1900, he introduced his social preoccupations into most of his stories. World War I reinforced his pessimistic outlook and led him to seek refuge in childhood memories, depicted in works such as Le Petit Pierre (1918).