Harry Martinson


Harry Martinson

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Harry Martinson
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1974

Born: 6 May 1904, Jämshög, Sweden

Died: 11 February 1978, Stockholm, Sweden

Residence at the time of the award: Sweden

Prize motivation: “for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos”

Language: Swedish

Prize share: 1/2


Harry Martinson was born in Blekinge, Sweden, into a family of seven children. After his father, a merchant, died of tuberculosis, his mother immigrated to the US leaving her seven children with foster families in the countryside. Martinson had an unstable childhood and ran away from home and school several times. As a 16-year-old he became a sailor, but later left the sea to become an author after contracting tuberculosis in 1927. He was first married to author Moa Martinson, and later to Ingrid Martinson, with whom he had two children.


Harry Martinson's works include poetry and prose, characterized by expressive and original language. Themes include his experiences during a harsh and unloving childhood and during his youth spent as a seaman and vagrant with no fixed home or steady job. His philosophical reflections and descriptions of the natural world reflect both his affection and concern for nature and his interest in science. Martinson's most famous work, the Aniara poetry collection from 1956, is about a space ship that leaves Earth after a devastating nuclear war, but then goes off course.

To cite this section
MLA style: Harry Martinson – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Sat. 20 Jul 2024. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1974/martinson/facts/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Nobel Prizes and laureates

Eleven laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2023, for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. Their work and discoveries range from effective mRNA vaccines and attosecond physics to fighting against the oppression of women.

See them all presented here.

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.