Martin Tranmæl

Short biography

Tranmæl, Martin Olsen

1879 -1967

Politician, Newspaper EditorLabour

Martin Tranmæl had little formal education, but he took great interest in reading, especially history. He became a member of a trade union that was associated with the Labour Party in 1896. Three years later, he was one of the founders of the newspaper Ny Tid (New Time ) which was published in Trondheim. In 1900 the newspaper officially became the organ of the Labour Party.

In 1900 he went to the USA to work as a painter and stayed until 1902. Back in Norway in 1903, Tranmæl was elected chairman of a local branch of the Labour Party and gained a reputation as an effective agitator and organizer, but he once again left for the USA to work as a painter until 1905. During his stay there he studied the organization, theory and methods of the American labour movement.

In the period 1907-1911 Tranmæl travelled around Europe, spending most of his time working for Ny Tid. Tranmæl, who belonged to the revolutionaries in the Labour Party, was imprisoned for political agitation in 1915. Strongly inspired by the Russian revolution in 1917, the revolutionaries won the majority at the party’s annual congress in 1918 and the party was split. The party adopted a revolutionary program and became a member of the Communist International. Tranmæl was elected to the Party’s central board. He remained on the board – a power-centre in Norwegian politics – until 1963 and was editor of the party’s organ, Social-Demokraten (from 1923: “Arbeiderbladet”) in 1921-1949. However, Tranmæl did not remain a revolutionary. The Labour Party broke its association with the Soviet dominated communist movement in 1923 and became increasingly reformist. After the second world war, Tranmæl himself became a staunch anti-communist.

Tranmæl was elected to the Storting in 1925-1927. Even if his position within the Labour Party was very strong, he never aspired to become a member of the Norwegian government. He was a member of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in 1938-1963.

Back to the list of Norwegian Nobel Committee members 1901-2017

The biographical sketches of the Norwegian Nobel Committee members were written by Sølvi Glendrange and edited by Øyvind Tønnesson. They are based on the following sources:
– Norsk Biografisk Leksikon (Norwegian Biographical Encyclopaedia), Oslo 1923-1983
– Hvem er Hvem? (The Norwegian “Who’s Who”), several editions
– Aschehoug og Gyldendals Store Norske Leksikon (The Norwegian National Encyclopaedia), Kunnskapsforlaget, 2nd and 3rd edition, Oslo 1989/1995-1999
– Kunnskapsforlagets Nettleksikon (the Web Encyclopedia of Kunnskapsforlaget,, Oslo 1999

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