A List of Every Nobel Prize Winner in Literature

From 1901 to the Present

Albert Camus And Torun Moberg
Keystone / Getty Images

When Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel died in 1896, he provided for five prizes in his will, including the Nobel Prize in literature, an honor that goes to writers who have produced "the most outstanding work in an ideal direction." Nobel's heirs, however, fought the provisions of the will and it took five years for the first awards to be presented. With this list, discover the writers who've lived up to Nobel's ​ideals from 1901 to the present. 

1901: Sully Prudhomme

War Correspondants, Including Rudyard Kipling, On Glover Island
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

French writer René François Armand "Sully" Prudhomme (1837–1907) won the first Nobel Prize for Literature in 1901 "in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of lofty idealism, artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect."

1902: Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen

German-Nordic writer Christian Matthias Theodor Mommsen (1817–1903) was referred to as "the greatest living master of the art of historical writing, with special reference to his monumental work, 'A History of Rome.'"

1903: Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson

Norwegian writer Bjørnstjerne Martinus Bjørnson (1832–1910) received the Nobel Prize "as a tribute to his noble, magnificent, and versatile poetry, which has always been distinguished by both the freshness of its inspiration and the rare purity of its spirit."

1904: Frédéric Mistral and José Echegaray y Eizaguirre

In addition to his many short poems, French writer Frédéric Mistral (1830–1914) wrote four verse romances, memoirs, and also published a Provençal dictionary. He received the 1904 Nobel Prize in literature: "in recognition of the fresh originality and true inspiration of his poetic production, which faithfully reflects the natural scenery and native spirit of his people, and, in addition, his significant work as a Provençal philologist."

Spanish writer José Echegaray y Eizaguirre (1832–1916) received the 1904 Nobel Prize in Literature "in recognition of the numerous and brilliant compositions which, in an individual and original manner, have revived the great traditions of the Spanish drama."

1905: Henryk Sienkiewicz

Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846–1916) was awarded the 1905 Nobel Prize in Literature thanks to "his outstanding merits as an epic writer." His best-known and most widely translated work is the 1896 novel, "Quo Vadis?" (Latin for "Where are you going?" or "Where are you marching?"), a study of Roman society in the time of Emperor Nero.

1906: Giosuè Carducci

Italian writer Giosuè Carducci (1835–1907) was a scholar, editor, orator, critic, and patriot who served as a professor of literature at the University of Bologna from 1860 to 1904. He was awarded the 1906 Nobel Prize in Literature "not only in consideration of his deep learning and critical research, but above all as a tribute to the creative energy, freshness of style, and lyrical force which characterize his poetic masterpieces."

1907: Rudyard Kipling

British writer Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936) wrote novels, poems, and short stories—mostly set in India and Burma (Myanmar). He's best remembered for his classic collection of children's stories, "The Jungle Book" (1894) and the poem, "Gunga Din" (1890), both of which were later adapted for Hollywood films. Kipling was named the 1907 Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature "in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration which characterize the creations of this world-famous author."

1908: Rudolf Christoph Eucken

German writer Rudolf Christoph Eucken (1846–1926) received the 1908 Nobel Prize in Literature "in recognition of his earnest search for truth, his penetrating power of thought, his wide range of vision, and the warmth and strength in presentation with which in his numerous works he has vindicated and developed an idealistic philosophy of life."

1909: Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf

Swedish writer Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf (1858 –1940) turned away from literary realism and wrote in a romantic and imaginative manner, vividly evoking the peasant life and landscape of northern Sweden. Lagerlöf, the first woman to receive the honor, was awarded the 1909 Nobel Prize in Literature "in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings."

1910: Paul Johann Ludwig Heyse

German writer Paul Johann Ludwig von Heyse (1830–1914) was a novelist, poet, and dramatist. He received the 1910 Nobel Prize in Literature "as a tribute to the consummate artistry, permeated with idealism, which he has demonstrated during his long productive career as a lyric poet, dramatist, novelist, and writer of world-renowned short stories."

1911: Maurice Maeterlinck

Bengali Poet Rabindranath Tagore
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

Belgian writer Count Maurice (Mooris) Polidore Marie Bernhard Maeterlinck  (1862–1949) developed his strongly mystical ideas in a number of prose works, among them: 1896's "Le Trésor des humbles" ("The Treasure of the Humble"), 1898's "La Sagesse et la destinée" ("Wisdom and Destiny"), and 1902's "Le Temple enseveli" ("The Buried Temple"). He received the 1911 Nobel Prize in Literature "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."

1912: Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann

German writer Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann (1862–1946) received the 1912 Nobel Prize in Literature "primarily in recognition of his fruitful, varied and outstanding production in the realm of dramatic art."

1913: Rabindranath Tagore

Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) was awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature thanks to "his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West."

In 1915, Tagore was knighted by King George V of England. Tagore renounced his knighthood in 1919, however, following the Amritsar massacre of nearly 400 Indian demonstrators.

(In 1914, no prize was awarded. The prize money was allocated to the special fund of this prize section)

1915: Romain Rolland

French writer Romain Rollan's (1866–1944) most famous work is "Jean Christophe," a partly autobiographical novel that won him the 1915 Nobel Prize in Literature. He also received the prize "as a tribute to the lofty idealism of his literary production and to the sympathy and love of truth with which he has described different types of human beings."

1916: Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam

Swedish writer Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam (1859–1940) received the 1916 Nobel Prize for Literature "in recognition of his significance as the leading representative of a new era in our literature."

1917: Karl Adolph Gjellerup and Henrik Pontoppidan

Danish writer Karl Gjellerup (1857–1919) received the 1917 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his varied and rich poetry, which is inspired by lofty ideals."

Danish writer Henrik Pontoppidan (1857–1943) received the 1917 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his authentic descriptions of present-day life in Denmark."

(In 1918, no prize was awarded. The prize money was allocated to the special fund of this prize section)

1919: Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler

Swiss writer Carl Friedrich Georg Spitteler (1845–1924) received the 1919 Nobel Prize for Literature "in special appreciation of his epic, 'Olympian Spring.'"

1920: Knut Pedersen Hamsun

Norwegian writer Knut Pedersen Hamsun (1859–1952), a pioneer of the psychological literature genre, received the 1920 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his monumental work, 'Growth of the Soil.'"

1921: Anatole France

Bernard Shaw at 90
Merlyn Severn / Getty Images

French writer Anatole France (a pseudonym for Jacques Anatole Francois Thibault, 1844–1924) is often thought of as the greatest French writer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921 "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."

1922: Jacinto Benavente

Spanish writer Jacinto Benavente (1866–1954) received the 1922 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the happy manner in which he has continued the illustrious traditions of the Spanish drama."

1923: William Butler Yeats

Irish poet, spiritualist, and playwright William Butler Yeats (1865–1939) received the 1923 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his always inspired poetry which in a highly artistic form, gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation."

1924: Wladyslaw Stanislaw Reymont

Polish writer Wladyslaw Reymont (1868–1925) received the 1924 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his great national epic, 'The Peasants.'"

1925: George Bernard Shaw

Irish-born writer George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) is considered the most significant British dramatist since Shakespeare. He was a playwright, essayist, political activist, lecturer, novelist, philosopher, revolutionary evolutionist, and possibly the most prolific letter writer in literary history. Shaw received the 1925 Nobel Prize "for his work which is marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty."

1926: Grazia Deledda

Italian writer Grazia Deledda (a pseudonym for Grazia Madesani née Deledda, 1871–1936) received the 1926 Nobel Prize for Literature "for her idealistically inspired writings which with plastic clarity picture the life on her native island and with depth and sympathy deal with human problems in general."

1927: Henri Bergson

French writer Henri Bergson (1859–1941) received the 1927 Nobel Prize for Literature "in recognition of his rich and vitalizing ideas and the brilliant skill with which they have been presented."

1928: Sigrid Undset (1882–1949)

Norwegian writer Sigrid Undset (1882–1949) received the 1928 Nobel Prize for Literature "for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages."

1929: Thomas Mann

German writer Thomas Mann (1875–1955) won the 1929 Nobel Laureate in Literature "principally for his great novel, 'Buddenbrooks' (1901) which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature." 

1930: Sinclair Lewis

Harry Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951), the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, took the honors in 1930 "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters." He is best remembered for his novels: "Main Street" (1920), "Babbitt" (1922), "Arrowsmith" (1925), "Mantrap" (1926), "Elmer Gantry" (1927), "The Man Who Knew Coolidge" (1928), and "Dodsworth" (1929).

1931: Erik Axel Karlfeldt

Mrs Roosevelt and Pearl S. Buck
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

Swedish poet Erik Karlfeldt (1864–1931) was posthumously awarded the Nobel Prize for his poetic body of work.

1932: John Galsworthy

British writer John Galsworthy (1867–1933) received the 1932 Nobel Prize for Literature "for his distinguished art of narration which takes its highest form in 'The Forsyte Saga.'"

1933: Ivan Alekseyevich Bunin

Russian writer Ivan Bunin (1870–1953) received the 1933 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the strict artistry with which he has carried on the classical Russian traditions in prose writing."

1934: Luigi Pirandello

Italian poet, short-story writer, novelist, and dramatist Luigi Pirandello (1867–1936) received the 1934 Nobel Prize in Literature in honor of "his almost magical power to turn psychological analysis into good theatre." The tragic farces for which was famous are thought by many to be precursors to the "Theatre of the Absurd."

(In 1935, no prize was awarded. The prize money was allocated to the special fund of this prize section)

1936: Eugene O'Neill

American writer Eugene (Gladstone) O'Neill (1888–1953) won the 1936 Nobel Prize for Literature "for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy." He has also won Pulitzer Prizes for four of his plays: "Beyond the Horizon" (1920), "Anna Christie" (1922), "Strange Interlude" (1928), and "Long Day's Journey Into Night" (1957).

1937: Roger Martin du Gard

French writer Roger du Gard (1881–1958) received the 1937 Nobel Prize for Literature "for the artistic power and truth with which he has depicted human conflict as well as some fundamental aspects of contemporary life in his novel-cycle 'Les Thibault.'"

1938: Pearl S. Buck

Prolific American writer Pearl S. Buck (a pseudonym for Pearl Walsh, née Sydenstricker, also known as Sai Zhenzhu, 1892–1973), best-remembered for her 1931 novel "The Good Earth," the first installment in her "House of Earth" trilogy, received the 1938 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces."

1939: Frans Eemil Sillanpää

Finnish writer Frans Sillanpää (1888–1964) received the 1939 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his deep understanding of his country's peasantry and the exquisite art with which he has portrayed their way of life and their relationship with Nature."

(From 1940-1943, no prizes were awarded. The prize money was allocated to the special fund of this prize section)

1944: Johannes Vilhelm Jensen

Nobel Prize Winners of 1945
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Danish writer Johannes Jensen (1873–1950) received the 1944 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the rare strength and fertility of his poetic imagination with which is combined an intellectual curiosity of wide scope and a bold, freshly creative style."

1945: Gabriela Mistral

Chilean writer Gabriela Mistral (a pseudonym for Lucila Godoy Y Alcayaga, 1830–1914) received the 1945 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her lyric poetry which, inspired by powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world."

1946: Hermann Hesse

Born in Germany, Swiss emigré poet, novelist, and painter Hermann Hesse (1877–1962) took home the 1946 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his inspired writings which, while growing in boldness and penetration, exemplify the classical humanitarian ideals and high qualities of style." His novels "Demian" (1919), "Steppenwolf" (1922), "Siddhartha" (1927), and (Narcissus and Goldmund" (1930, also published as "Death and the Lover") are classic studies in the search for truth, self-awareness, and spirituality. 

1947: André Gide

French writer André Paul Guillaume Gide (1869–1951) received the 1947 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his comprehensive and artistically significant writings, in which human problems and conditions have been presented with a fearless love of truth and keen psychological insight."

1948: T. S. Eliot

Renowned British/American poet and playwright Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888–1965), a member of "the lost generation," received the 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry." His 1915 poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," is regarded as a masterpiece of the Modernist movement.

1949: William Faulkner

William Faulkner (1897–1962), considered to be one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century, received the 1949 Nobel in Literature "for his powerful and artistically unique contribution to the modern American novel." Some of his best-loved works include "The Sound and the Fury" (1929), "As I Lay Dying" (1930), and "Absalom, Absalom" (1936).

1950: Bertrand Russell

British writer Bertrand Arthur William Russell (1872–1970) received the 1950 Nobel in Literature "in recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought."

1951: Pär Fabian Lagerkvist

Boris Pasternak Reading a Book
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Swedish writer Pär Fabian Lagerkvist (1891–1974) received the 1951 Nobel in Literature "for the artistic vigor and true independence of mind with which he endeavors in his poetry to find answers to the eternal questions confronting mankind."

1952: François Mauriac

French writer François Mauriac (1885–1970) received the 1952 Nobel in Literature "for the deep spiritual insight and the artistic intensity with which he has in his novels penetrated the drama of human life."

1953: Sir Winston Churchill

Legendary orator, prolific author, talented artist, and statesman who twice served as British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874–1965), received the 1953 Nobel in Literature "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values."

1954: Ernest Hemingway

Another of the 20th centuries most influential American novelists, Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899–1961)was known for his brevity of style. He received the 1954 Nobel in Literature "for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in 'The Old Man and the Sea,' and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style."

1955: Halldór Kiljan Laxness

Icelandic writer Halldór Kiljan Laxness (1902–1998) received the 1955 Nobel in Literature "for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland."

1956: Juan Ramón Jiménez Mantecón

Spanish writer Juan Ramón Jiménez Mantecón (1881–1958) received the 1956 Nobel in Literature "for his lyrical poetry, which in the Spanish language constitutes an example of high spirit and artistic purity."

1957: Albert Camus

Algerian-born French writer Albert Camus (1913–1960) was a famous existentialist who authored "The Stranger" (1942) and "The Plague" (1947). He received the Nobel Prize in Literature "for his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times."

1958: Boris Pasternak

Russian poet and novelist Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (1890–1960) received the 1958 Nobel in literature "for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition." Russian authorities led him to decline the award after he'd accepted it. He is best remembered for his epic 1957 novel of love and revolution, "Doctor Zhivago."

1959: Salvatore Quasimodo

Italian writer Salvatore Quasimodo (1901–1968) received the Nobel Prize in Literature "for his lyrical poetry, which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times."

1960: Saint-John Perse

French writer Saint-John Perse (a pseudonym for Alexis Léger, 1887–1975) received the 1960 Nobel in Literature "for the soaring flight and the evocative imagery of his poetry which in a visionary fashion reflects the conditions of our time."

1961: Ivo Andric

Rene Maheu (1905 - 1975, right), Director-General of UNESCO, welcomes Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata (1899 - 1972), winner of that year's Nobel Prize for Literature, to Paris, 18th December 1968
Keystone / Getty Images

Yugoslavian writer Ivo Andric (1892–1975) received the 1961 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country."

1962: John Steinbeck

Quintessentially American author John Steinbeck's (1902–1968) enduring body of work includes such classic novels of hardship and despair as "Of Mice and Men" (1937) and "The Grapes of Wrath" (1939), as well as lighter fare including "Cannery Row" (1945) and "Travels With Charley: In Search of America" (1962). He received the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and keen social perception."

1963: Giorgos Seferis

Greek writer Giorgos Seferis (a pseudonym for Giorgos Seferiadis, 1900–1971) received the 1963 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture."

1964: Jean-Paul Sartre

French philosopher, dramatist, novelist, and political journalist Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980), perhaps most famous for his 1944 existential drama, "No Exit," received the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his work which, rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom and the quest for truth, has exerted a far-reaching influence on our age."

1965: Michail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov

Russian writer Michail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov (1905–1984) received the 1965 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the artistic power and integrity with which, in his epic ['And Quiet Flows the Don,'] he has given expression to a historic phase in the life of the Russian people."

1966: Shmuel Yosef Agnon and Nelly Sachs

Israeli writer Shmuel Yosef Agnon (1888–1970) received the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people."

Swedish writer Nelly Sachs (1891–1970) received the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her outstanding lyrical and dramatic writing, which interprets Israel's destiny with touching strength."

1967: Miguel Angel Asturias

Guatemalan writer Miguel Asturias (1899–1974) received the 1967 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his vivid literary achievement, deep-rooted in the national traits and traditions of Indian peoples of Latin America."

1968: Yasunari Kawabata

Novelist and short-story writer Yasunari Kawabata (1899–1972) was the first Japanese writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He won the 1968 honor "for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind."

1969: Samuel Beckett

During his career, Irish writer Samuel Beckett (1906–1989) produced work as a novelist, playwright, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator. His 1953 play, "Waiting for Godot" is considered by many to be the purest example of absurdist/existentialism ever written. Beckett received the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his writing, which—in new forms for the novel and drama—in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation."

1970: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Russian novelist, historian, and short-story writer Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn (1918–2008) received the 1970 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature." While only able to publish one work in his native country, 1962's "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," Solzhenitsyn brought global awareness to Russia's Gulag labor camps. His other novels, "Cancer Ward" (1968), "August 1914" (1971), and "The Gulag Archipelago" (1973) were published outside of the U.S.S.R.

1971: Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda
Sam Falk / Getty Images

Prolific Chilean writer Pablo Neruda (a pseudonym for Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, 1904–1973) wrote and published more than 35,000 pages of poetry, including perhaps the work that would make him famous, "Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada" ("Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair"). He received the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature "for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams."

1972: Heinrich Böll

German writer Heinrich Böll (1917–1985) received the 1972 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his writing which through its combination of a broad perspective on his time and a sensitive skill in characterization has contributed to a renewal of German literature."

1973: Patrick White

London-born Australian writer Patrick White (1912–1990) published works include a dozen novels, three short-story collections, and eight plays. He also penned a screenplay and a book of poetry. He received the 1973 Nobel Prize in Literature "for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature."

1974: Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson

Swedish writer Eyvind Johnson (1900–1976) received the 1974 Nobel Prize in Literature "for a narrative art, far-seeing in lands and ages, in the service of freedom."

Swedish writer Harry Martinson (1904–1978) received the 1974 Nobel Prize in Literature "for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos."

1975: Eugenio Montale

Italian writer Eugenio Montale (1896–1981) received the 1975 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his distinctive poetry which, with great artistic sensitivity, has interpreted human values under the sign of an outlook on life with no illusions."

1976: Saul Bellow

American writer Saul Bellow (1915–2005) was born in Canada to Russian Jewish parents. The family moved to Chicago when he was 9 years old. After completing his studies at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, he launched a career as a writer and teacher. Fluent in Yiddish, Bellow's works explored the often-uncomfortable ironies of life as a Jew in America. Bellow received the 1976 Nobel Prize in Literature "for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work." Some of his best-known works include National Book Award winners "Herzog" (1964) and "Mr. Sammler’s Planet" (1970), Pulitzer Prize-winning "Humboldt’s Gift" (1975), and his later novels, "The Dean’s December" (1982), "More Die of Heartbreak" (1987), "A Theft" (1989), "The Bellarosa Connection" (1989), and "The Actual" (1997).

1977: Vicente Aleixandre

Spanish writer Vicente Aleixandre (1898–1984) received the 1977 Nobel Prize in Literature "for a creative poetic writing which illuminates man's condition in the cosmos and in present-day society, at the same time representing the great renewal of the traditions of Spanish poetry between the wars."

1978: Isaac Bashevis Singer

Born Yitskhok Bashevis Zinger, Polish-American memoirist, novelist, short-story writer, and author of beloved children's tales, Isaac Bashevis Singer's (1904–1991) works ran the gamut from touching ironic comedy to deeply nuanced social commentary. He received the 1978 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his impassioned narrative art which, with roots in a Polish-Jewish cultural tradition, brings universal human conditions to life." 

1979: Odysseus Elytis

Greek writer Odysseus Elytis (a pseudonym for Odysseus Alepoudhelis, 1911–1996) received the 1979 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his poetry, which, against the background of Greek tradition, depicts with sensuous strength and intellectual clear-sightedness modern man's struggle for freedom and creativeness."

1980: Czesław Miłosz

Polish-American Czesław Miłosz (1911–2004), sometimes cited as one of the most influential poets of the 20th century, received the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature for voicing "man's exposed condition in a world of severe conflicts."

1981: Elias Canetti

Ulf Andersen Portraits - Naguib Mahfouz
Ulf Andersen / Getty Images

Bulgarian-British writer Elias Canetti (1908–1994) was a novelist, memoirist, playwright, and nonfiction author who received the 1981 Nobel Prize in Literature "for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas, and artistic power."

1982: Gabriel García Márquez

Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez (1928–2014), one of the brightest stars in the magical realism movement, received the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts." He is best known for his intricately woven and sweeping novels, "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (1967) and "Love in the Time of Cholera" (1985).

1983: William Golding

While British writer William Golding's (1911–1993) best-known work, the deeply disturbing coming-of-age tale "Lord of the Flies," is considered a classic, due to the troubling nature of its content, however, it's achieved banned book status on numerous occasions. Golding received the 1983 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his novels which, with the perspicuity of realistic narrative art and the diversity and universality of myth, illuminate the human condition in the world of today."

1984: Jaroslav Seifert

Czech writer Jaroslav Seifert (1901–1986) received the 1984 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his poetry which endowed with freshness, sensuality, and rich inventiveness provides a liberating image of the indomitable spirit and versatility of man."

1985: Claude Simon

Born in Madagascar, French novelist Claude Simon (1913–2005) received the 1985 Nobel Prize in Literature for combining "the poet's and the painter's creativeness with a deepened awareness of time in the depiction of the human condition." 

1986: Wole Soyinka

Nigerian playwright, poet, and essayist Wole Soyinka (1934– ) received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature for fashioning "the drama of existence" from the wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones."

1987: Joseph Brodsky (1940–1996)

Russian-American poet Joseph Brodsky (born Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky) received the 1987 Nobel Prize in Literature "for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity."

1988: Naguib Mahfouz

Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz (1911–2006) received the 1988 Nobel Prize in Literature "who, through works rich in nuance—now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous—has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind."

1989: Camilo José Cela

Spanish writer Camilo Cela (1916–2002) received the 1989 Nobel Prize in Literature "for a rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man's vulnerability."

1990: Octavio Paz

Surrealist/existentialist Mexican poet Octavio Paz (1914–1998) received the 1990 Nobel Prize in Literature "for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity."

1991: Nadine Gordimer

Toni Morrison Signs Copies Of 'Home'
WireImage / Getty Images

South African author and activist Nadine Gordimer (1923–2014) was recognized for the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature "through her magnificent epic writing has—in the words of Alfred Nobel—been of very great benefit to humanity."

1992: Derek Walcott

Magical realist poet and playwright Sir Derek Walcott (1930–2017) was born on the island of Saint Lucian in the West Indies. He received the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature "for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment." 

1993: Toni Morrison

African American writer Toni Morrison (born Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison, 1931–2019) was an essayist, editor, teacher, and professor emeritus at Princeton University. Her groundbreaking first novel, "The Bluest Eye" (1970), focused on growing up as a Black girl in the fractured cultural landscape of America's deeply entrenched racial divide. Morrison won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature for "novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import," giving "life to an essential aspect of American reality." Her other memorable novels include "Sula" (1973), "Song of Solomon" (1977), "Beloved" (1987), "Jazz" (1992), "Paradise" (1992) "A Mercy" (2008), and "Home" (2012).

1994: Kenzaburo Oe

Japanese writer Kenzaburo Oe (1935– ) received the 1994 Nobel Prize in Literature because "with poetic force [he] creates an imagined world, where life and myth condense to form a disconcerting picture of the human predicament today." His 1996 novel, "Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids" is considered a must-read for fans of "Lord of the Flies."

1995: Seamus Heaney

Irish poet/playwright Seamus Heaney (1939–2013) received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature "for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past." He is best known for his debut volume of poetry "Death of a Naturalist" (1966).

1996: Wislawa Szymborska

Polish writer Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska (1923–2012) received the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature "for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality."

1997: Dario Fo

Cited as one "who emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden," Italian playwright, comedian, singer, theatre director, set designer, songwriter, painter, and left-wing political campaigner Dario Fo (1926–2016) was 1997's winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

1998: José Saramago

The works of Portuguese writer José de Sousa Saramago (1922–2010) have been translated into more than 25 languages. He received the 1998 Nobel Prize in Literature for being recognized as someone "who with parables sustained by imagination, compassion, and irony continually enables us once again to apprehend an illusory reality."

1999: Günter Grass

German writer Günter Grass (1927–2015), whose "frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history," took home the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature. In addition to novels, Grass was a poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, and sculptor. His best-known novel "The Tin Drum" (1959) is considered one of the most important examples of the modern European magical realism movement.

2000: Gao Xingjian

Chinese emigré Gao Xingjian (1940– ) is a French novelist, playwright, critic, translator, screenwriter, director, and painter who is best known for his Absurdist style. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2000 "for an œuvre of universal validity, bitter insights, and linguistic ingenuity, which has opened new paths for the Chinese novel and drama."


2001: V. S. Naipaul

Trinidadian-British writer Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul (1932–2018) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001 "for having united perceptive narrative and incorruptible scrutiny in works that compel us to see the presence of suppressed histories."

2002: Imre Kertész

Hungarian writer Imre Kertész (1929–2016), a survivor of the Holocaust, was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 2002 "for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history."

2003: J. M. Coetzee

South African novelist, essayist, literary critic, linguist, translator, and professor John Maxwell (1940– ) "who in innumerable guises portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider," was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature. 

2004: Elfriede Jelinek (1946–)

​Noted Austrian playwright, novelist, and feminist Elfriede Jelinek won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Literature thanks to the "musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power."

2005: Harold Pinter

Famed British playwright Harold Pinter (1930–2008), "who in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms," was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 2005.

2006: Orhan Pamuk

Turkish novelist, screenwriter, and Columbia University Professor of Comparative Literature and Writing Orhan Pamuk (1952– ), "who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures," was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 2006. His controversial works have been banned in his native Turkey.

2007: Doris Lessing

British writer Doris Lessing (1919–2013) was born in Persia (now Iran). She was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Swedish Academy termed "skepticism, fire and visionary power." She is perhaps most famous for her 1962 novel, "The Golden Notebook," a seminal work of feminist literature.

2008: J. M. G. Le Clézio ​

French author/professor Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio (1940– ) has penned more than 40 books. He was awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in literature in 2008 in recognition of his being an "author of new departures, poetic adventure, and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization."

2009: Herta Müller

​Romanian-born German Herta Müller (1953– ) is a novelist, poet, and essayist. She was awarded to the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature as a writer, "who, with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose, depicts the landscape of the dispossessed." 

2010: Mario Vargas Llosa

​Peruvian writer, Mario Vargas Llosa (1936– ) was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat." He is known for his novel, "The Time of the Hero" (1966).

2011 and Beyond

Ulf Andersen Portraits - Mo Yan
Ulf Andersen / Getty Images

2011: Tomas Tranströmer

Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer (1931–2015) was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature “because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.”

2012: Mo Yan

Chinese novelist and story writer Mo Yan (a pseudonym for Guan Moye, 1955– ), "who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history, and the contemporary," was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature. 

2013: Alice Munro

Canadian writer Alice Munro (1931– ) "master of the contemporary short story," whose themes of non-linear time have been credited with revolutionizing the genre, was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. 

2014: Patrick Modiano

French writer Jean Patrick Modiano (1945– ) was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize in literature in 2014 "for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation."

2015: Svetlana Alexievich

Ukrainian-Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexandrovna Alexievich (1948– )is an investigative journalist, essayist, and oral historian. She was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time."

2016: Bob Dylan

American performer, artist, and pop culture icon Bob Dylan (1941– ), who along with Woody Guthrie is considered one of the most influential singer/songwriters of the 20th century. Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman) received the 2016 literature Nobel “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” He first achieved fame with classic counter-culture ballads including "Blowin' in the Wind" (1963) and "The Times They Are a-Changin' " (1964), both emblematic of the deep-seated anti-war and pro-civil rights beliefs he championed.

2017: Kazuo Ishiguro (1954–)

British novelist, screenwriter, and short-story writer Kazuo Ishiguro (1954– ) was born in Nagasaki, Japan. His family moved to the United Kingdom when he was 5 years old. Ishiguro received the 2017 Nobel Literature Prize because, “in novels of great emotional force, [he] has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.”

(In 2018, the awarding of the Literature Prize was postponed due to financial and sexual assault investigations at the Swedish Academy, which is responsible for determining the winner[s]. As a result, two prizes are scheduled to be awarded coinciding with the 2019 award.)

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Lombardi, Esther. "A List of Every Nobel Prize Winner in Literature." ThoughtCo, Aug. 1, 2021, thoughtco.com/nobel-prize-in-literature-winners-4084778. Lombardi, Esther. (2021, August 1). A List of Every Nobel Prize Winner in Literature. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/nobel-prize-in-literature-winners-4084778 Lombardi, Esther. "A List of Every Nobel Prize Winner in Literature." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/nobel-prize-in-literature-winners-4084778 (accessed March 30, 2023).