Bettmann Archive
  • Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature . The musician is seen here in a file from 1968-1969.
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  • The laureate of the 2015 Nobel Literature Prize, Belarussian writer and dissident Svetlana Alexievich, poses on Nov. 2, 2015, in Paris.
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  • Dario Fo was praised by the Swedish Academy for emulating "the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden" for his work. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997. Dario Fo performs at Folkets Hus in Stockholm, Sweden, March 14, 1980.
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  • 1993 Pulitzer prize winning author, Toni Morrison, 77, is photographed in her New York apartment.
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  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez is widely seen as the Spanish language’s most-popular 20th century writer through novels such as 1967's "One Hundred Years of Solitude." The Swedish Academy praised Marquez "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." Marquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature on Dec. 8, 1982.
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  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was central in exposing the horrors of Soviet slave labor camps from his own experiences through works such as 1962's "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich." The Swedish Academy awarded him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, "for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature." Solzhenitzyn decided not to leave the Soviet Union to receive his prize, fearing authorities wouldn't let him back. He accepted the award four years later after he was exiled from the Soviet Union.
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  • Samuel Beckett, who lived much of his life in France and wrote extensively in French, received the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature. The Swedish Academy praised Beckett "for his writing, which - in new forms for the novel and drama - in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation." His most revered play was the 1952 absurdist black comedy "Waiting for Godot."
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  • The Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964 to Jean-Paul Sartre "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." However, Sartre, who was central to the rise of existential thought in the 20th century through such works as 1943's "Being and Nothingness,"declined the prize on the grounds that he had consistently refused all official honors.
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  • John Steinbeck, best remembered for his 1939 novel "The Grapes of Wrath," which told the epic story of a family traveling west from Oklahoma to California, was awarded the prize "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and keen social perception" in 1962.
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  • Ernest Hemingway was a reporter during the Spanish Civil War in the late-1930s and his experience there led to perhaps his greatest work, 1940's "For Whom The Bell Tolls." The Swedish Academy awarded Hemingway the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954 "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."
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  • Sir Winston Churchill, in the garden of No. 10 Downing Street, was a prolific writer, producing a body of work that included a history of World War II, the conflict that he is most associated with. When awarding him the 1953 Nobel Prize in Literature, the Swedish Committee praised Churchill "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values".
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  • Thomas Stearns Eliot, a literary pioneer, was a poet, editor, critic, and playwright. He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1948.
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  • Eugene O'Neill became the second American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1936 "for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy." O'Neill was renowned for using American vernacular and for putting those at the fringes of society at the heart of his work. Highlights pre-Nobel include "Anna Christie" and "Strange Interlude."
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  • German author Thomas Mann, pictured here reading in Los Angeles, Oct. 30, 1942. Mann won the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature "principally for his great novel, ‘Buddenbrooks’ (1901), which has steadily won increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature." Mann became an increasingly vocal critic of Nazism when living in exile in the United States during World War II.
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  • Sir Rabindranath Tagore played a pivotal role in popularizing Indian culture in the West through such works as "Gitanjali: Song Offerings." In 1913, Sir Rabindranath Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Swedish Academy described as "his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse."
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  • In 1909, Selma Lagerlof became the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, "in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception that characterize her writings." She is perhaps best known for her 1907 children's book "The Wonderful Adventures of Nils." Selma Lagerlof is pictured here at her home during celebrations of her 80th birthday, on Nov. 20, 1938.
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  • Much of Rudyard Kipling's work, most famously 1894's "The Jungle Book" and 1901's "Kim" were set in, or around, India. The Swedish Academy awarded Kipling the 1907 Nobel Prize in Literature "in consideration of the power of observation, originality of imagination, virility of ideas and remarkable talent for narration." At 41, he remains the youngest literature laureate to this day.
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