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Nobel Prize in Literature - countries with the most winners 1901-2019

The country with the most Nobel Prize winners in Literature is France, with 15 individuals having won the award since 1901, when French poet and essayist Sully Prudhomme became the first ever winner of the award. Jean-Paul Sartre was also given the prize in 1964 but voluntarily declined it.

Literature – additional information

The Nobel Prize in Literature is one of the five Nobel Prizes announced each year in early October. The other prizes ate the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Physics, Nobel Peace Prize and the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. The Prize in Literature is awarded to an author who has created ‘in the field of literature the most outstanding work in ideal direction.’

In a report on the number of new books and editions published in the United States in the ‘literature’ category from 2002 to 2013, the figures seemed to peak in 2009 whereby 11,456 new books were published. In 2012, the figure for new literature had dropped to 7,004 for the whole of the United States.

The time necessary to read selected bestsellers was determined through a survey in 2014. In order to read the series “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin, from cover to cover, it was estimated that a reader would need 98.33 hours. For readers with less time on their hands however, “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho would only take up 2.18 hours. But, as the American philosopher Mortimer J. Adler once said, “In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.”

Countries with the most Nobel Prize winners in Literature from 1901 to 2019, by winner's nationality

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Release date

October 2019



Survey time period

1901 to 2019

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Statistics on "Book authors"

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