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Facts about the Nobel Prize in Literature


British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.jpg

British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro smiles during a press conference at his home in London, Thursday Oct. 5, 2017. Ishiguro, best known for "The Remains of the Day," won the Nobel Literature Prize on Thursday, marking a return to traditional literature following two years of unconventional choices by the Swedish Academy for the 9-million-kronor ($1.1 million) prize. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)



The Nobel Prize in Literature was first awarded in 1901. Since then, the Swedish Academy has handed out 110 awards to 113 writers. The awards were not given out seven times during that span: in 1914, 1918, 1935, 1940, 1941, 1942 and 1943.

Some other facts about the literature prize:

* The youngest literature laureate was Rudyard Kipling, who was 41 when he won in 1907.

* The oldest literature laureate was Doris Lessing, who was 88 when she won in 2007.

* The average age of all literature laureates between 1901 and 2016 was 65.

* Two people declined: Boris Pasternak (1958), who first accepted, but then declined the prize because of pressure - including threatened deportation, from his country, the Soviet Union - and Jean Paul Sartre (1964), who had consistently declined all official honours.

* Fourteen women have won the literature prize through 2016. Swedish author Selma Lagerloef was the first woman to win, in 1909. Others included Pearl Buck (1938), Nadine Gordimer (1991), Toni Morrison (1993), Herta Mueller (2009), Alice Munro (2013) and Svetlana Alexievich (2015).

* The laureates have written in languages ranging from English (28), French (14) and German (13) to Japanese (two), Arabic (one) and Chinese (two).

* Rabindranath Tagore (1913) wrote in Bengali and English, Samuel Beckett (1969) in French and English, and Joseph Brodsky (1987) wrote poetry in Russian and prose in English.

* A surprise laureate was the 2016 laureate, folk music icon Bob Dylan; another was Winston Churchill (1953), many believe he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

* While the prize is for an author's life work, the academy singled out a specific work in the case of nine laureates, including Ernest Hemingway (1954), Thomas Mann (1929) and Theodor Mommsen (1902).

* The prize has been shared four times since 1901, most recently in 1974, when Swedish authors Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson won.

* The nominations and opinions written by the members of the committee each year are kept secret for 50 years.

* The most common genre awarded for the literature prize is prose.

* There have been no multiple winners of the literature prize.

* The prize was awarded posthumously once - in 1931 to Erik Axel Karlfeldt. From 1974, the Nobel Foundation decided that a prize could not be awarded posthumously unless the death occurs after the announcement of the Nobel.

© DPA 2017