1921 Nobel Prize in Literature
Anatole France
"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"
  • 1921 (announcement)
  • 10 December 1921
LocationStockholm, Sweden
Presented bySwedish Academy
First awarded1901
WebsiteOfficial website
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The 1921 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the French author Anatole France "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".[1]


Main article: Anatole France

Anatole France (pseudonym for Jacques-Anatole-François Thibault, 1844-1924) started writing poems in the classical tradition, but became known for his prose works. His stories and novels are noted for wit and irony, scepticism, social preoccupations and clarity in the classical tradition. Notable works include the four volume novel sequence collected under the title L’Histoire contemporaine (1897–1901).[2]


Anatole France was nominatad 13 times since 1904 before he was awarded. He was first introduced for the Nobel Prize by French politician Marcellin Berthelot. In 1921, three nominations from Erik Staaff, Johan Vising and Emanuel Walberg was submitted for him to the Nobel committee.[3] In total, the Nobel Committee received 18 nominees which included Arno Holz, Arne Garborg, Gunnar Gunnarsson, W. B. Yeats (awarded in 1923), George Bernard Shaw (awarded in 1925), Grazia Deledda (awarded in 1926), Henri Bergson (awarded in 1927) and John Galsworthy (awarded in 1932). Five of the nominees were newly nominated: Jacinto Benavente (awarded in 1922), Jean Revel, Émile Boutroux, Stefan Zeromski, and H. G. Wells.[4] Deledda was the only female nominee during this year.

The authors Jean Aicard, Eduardo Acevedo Díaz, Hester A. Benedict, Maximilian Berlitz, Alexander Blok, Luca Caragiale, Georges Darien, Georges Feydeau, Otto von Gierke, Rosetta Luce Gilchrist, Nikolai Gumilev, John Habberton, Sarah Dyer Hobart, E. W. Hornung, Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav, Maria I. Johnston, Peter Kropotkin, Jeanne Lapauze, Lillian Rozell Messenger, Emilia Pardo Bazán, Abba Goold Woolson and Maria Amália Vaz de Carvalho died in 1921 without having been nominated.

Official list of nominees and their nominators for the prize
No. Nominee Country Genre(s) Nominator(s)
1 Ferdinand Avenarius (1856–1923)  Germany poetry
2 Jacinto Benavente (1866–1954)  Spain drama 21 members of Royal Spanish Academy
3 Henri Bergson (1859–1941)  France philosophy
4 Émile Boutroux (1845–1921)  France philosophy Harald Hjärne (1848–1922)
5 Otokar Březina (1868–1929)  Czechoslovakia poetry, essays Arne Novák (1880–1939)
6 Grazia Deledda (1871–1936)  Kingdom of Italy novel, short story, essays
7 Anatole France (1844–1924)  France poetry, essays, drama, novel, literary criticism
  • Emanuel Walberg (1873–1951)
  • Johan Vising (1855–1942)
  • Erik Staaff (1867–1936)
8 John Galsworthy (1867–1933)  Great Britain novel, drama, essays, short story, memoir Anders Österling (1884–1981)
9 Arne Garborg (1851–1921)  Norway novel, poetry, drama, essays Frits Läffler (1847–1921)
10 Ángel Guimerá Jorge (1845–1924)  Spain drama, poetry members of the Reial Acadèmia de Bones Lletres
11 Gunnar Gunnarsson (1889–1975)  Iceland novel, short story, poetry Adolf Noreen (1854–1925)
12 Arno Holz (1863–1929)  Germany poetry, drama, essays 49 members of the Society of Authors
13 Alois Jirásek (1851–1930)  Czechoslovakia novel, drama Czech Academy of Sciences
14 Jean Revel (1848–1925)  France history, short story Académie des sciences, belles-lettres et arts de Rouen
15 George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950)  Ireland drama, essays, novel Henrik Schück (1855–1947)
16 Herbert George Wells (1866–1946)  Great Britain novel, short story, essays, history, biography
17 William Butler Yeats  Ireland poetry, drama, essays Erik Axel Karlfeldt (1864–1931)
18 Stefan Żeromski (1864–1925)  Poland novel, drama, short story members of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences

Prize decision

Anatole France hade for long been mentioned in the press as a popular choice for the Nobel prize. He hade been discussed by the Nobel committee for the 1904 prize, but his candidacy was then dismissed by the committee, partly because of the "offensive eroticism" in his novels which according to committee member Carl David af Wirsén was not in line with Alfred Nobels guideline of an "ideal direction". Later Anatole France's left wing political views was also held against him by Wirsén. The Nobel committee recommended that the 1921 prize should be awarded to John Galsworthy, but committee member Henrik Schück successfully argued for a prize to France, who subsequently was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in literature.[5]


  1. ^ The Nobel Prize in Literature 1921 nobelprize.org
  2. ^ "Anatole France". britannica.com.
  3. ^ "Nomination archive Anatole France". nobelprize.org.
  4. ^ "Nomination archive Literature 1921". nobelprize.org.
  5. ^ Gustav Källstrand Andens Olympiska Spel. Nobelprisets historia Fri Tanke 2021, p. 436