Nobel Prize Award for Literature 1913 to 1922

About the Nobel Prize Award for Literature 1913 to 1922 including the authors such as Hamsun and Tagore, their works, and history.


1913 Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Indian

Work: Gitanjali

Nobel Laureate: Born in Calcutta to the Maharishi Debendranath Tagore, the Indian poet's early verse is characterized by religious mysticism. He studied in England for several years but returned to India to manage his father's estates. He soon developed the sympathy for the poverty and backwardness of the villagers that is evident in his work. This same social conscience led him to give up his knighthood, which he was awarded in 1919, in protest against British repression in India. After losing his wife, a son, and a daughter in rapid succession, he wrote Gitanjali (Song Offerings), the collection of lyric verse that earned him the prize. A gifted painter and composer as well as a prolific writer (he wrote novels and short stories as well as poetry), Tagore set up a school in India in 1901 to bring together the best of Eastern and Western culture. Referred to as the Bengali Shelley, he still enjoys a massive following in India.

Nobel Lore: Though largely unknown outside India, Tagore received enthusiastic sponsorship on the Nobel committee by Verner von Heidenstam, who was struck by the lyric beauty of Tagore's English translation of Gitanjali. On the strength of his recommendation, plus the laudatory comments of a Bengali-speaking Swedish professor from whom the committee had sought an evaluation of the work in the original, Tagore became the first non-European to receive the literary prize.

1914 No award

1915 Romain Rolland (1866-1944), French

Work: Jean-Christophe

1916 Verner von Heidenstam (1859-1940), Swedish

Work: Nya Dikter

1917 Karl A. Gjellerup (1857-1919), Danish

Work: Golden Bough

Henrik Pontoppidan (1857-1943), Danish

Work: Kingdom of the Dead

1918 No award

1919 Carl F.G. Spitteler (1845-1924), Swiss

Work: Prometheus and Epimetheus; Olympian Spring

1920 Knut Hamsun (1859-1952), Norwegian

Work: Hunger; Growth of the Soil

1921 Anatole France (1844-1924), French

Work: The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard; Penguin Island

1922 Jacinto Benavente y Martinez (1866-1954), Spanish

Work: Bonds of Interest

Nobel Laureate: As a lad he liked putting on puppet shows. At 19, love of the theater lured him out of law school. His first plays were published in 1892, and for the next six decades the king of the Spanish drama held the stage. He wrote more than 200 plays, mainly satirical comedies, and for years "Madrid dined an hour earlier" when the curtain was due to go up on a new Benavente production. He translated Shakespeare, edited a literary magazine, and founded a children's theater. Bonds of Interest, 1907, and The Wrongly Loved, 1913, were his biggest hits. He was admitted to the Spanish Royal Academy in 1913. During W.W. I he sided with the Germans, a stance that disenchanted many of his followers. During the Franco rebellion he was loyal to the Loyalists, thereby acquiring a new set of nonadmirers. So when this pro-German propagandist was awarded the Nobel Prize, the French were outraged, and young Spaniards weren't too thrilled either.

Nobel Lore: Among those voted down were Thomas Hardy, Maksim Gorki, and James Joyce.

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