1928 Nobel Prize in Literature
Sigrid Undset
"principally for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages."
  • 13 November 1928 (announcement)
  • 10 December 1928
LocationStockholm, Sweden
Presented bySwedish Academy
First awarded1901
WebsiteOfficial website
← 1927 · Nobel Prize in Literature · 1929 →

The 1928 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the Danish-born Norwegian novelist Sigrid Undset (1882–1949) "principally for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages."[1][2] She is the third female recipient of the literature prize.


Main article: Sigrid Undset

Sigrid Undset's writing career started by focusing on strong, contemporary women struggling for emancipation. Inspired by her archeologist father, she later turned to writing about the Middle Ages as seen in Fortællingen om Viga-Ljot og Vigdis ("Gunnar's Daughter", 1909) and tetralogy Olav Audunssøn i Hestviken og Olav Audunssøn og Hans Børn ("The Master of Hestviken", 1925–27). Her best known work is Kristin Lavransdatter (1920–1922),

First edition cover of Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wreath by Aschehoug.

which deals with themes of honor, religious faith, and the common life shared by women and men in 15th-century Norway. According to the Swedish Academy, Undset brings to life the medieval times with solid historical knowledge, deep psychological insight, a vivid imagination, and a vigorous language. Being a convert to Catholicism, she expressed her religiosity by writing a biographical novel on St. Catherine of Siena and a hagiographical collection Sagaen om de Hellige ("Saga of Saints", 1934).[3]



Sigrid Undset was only nominated in four occasions (1922, 1925, 1926, and 1928). Her last nomination which led to her being awarded the Nobel prize came from the proposal of the Norwegian psychologist Helga Eng (1875–1966).[4]

In total, the Swedish Academy received 48 nominations for 36 writers. Thirteen of the nominees were newly nominated such as Hans Driesch, Ricarda Huch, Felix Timmermans, Theodor Däubler, Armando Palacio Valdés, Rufino Blanco Fombona, Blanca de los Ríos, Anna de Noailles, and Edith Howes. The highest number of nominations (with three nomination letters each) were for the German writer Paul Ernst and the French philosopher Henri Bergson (awarded for 1927). There were six female nominees: Blanca de los Ríos, Edith Howes, Ricarda Huch, Edith Wharton, Concha Espina de la Serna, and Anna de Noailles.

The authors Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, François de Curel, Robert de Flers, Brian Oswald Donn-Byrne, Edmund Gosse, Avery Hopwood, Oskar Jerschke, Henry Festing Jones, Juan Bautista Justo, Ladislav Klíma, Charlotte Mew, Barry Pain, Frank Ramsey, George Ranetti, José Eustasio Rivera, Max Scheler, Aron Hector Schmitz (known as Italo Svevo), Antonín Sova, Sir George Trevelyan, Paul van Ostaijen, Stanley John Weyman, and Elinor Wylie died without having been nominated for the prize.

Official list of nominees and their nominators for the prize
No. Nominee Country Genre(s) Nominator(s)
1 Rudolf Hans Bartsch (1873–1952)  Austria novel, short story, essays, drama Oswald Redlich (1858–1944)
2 Henri Bergson (1859–1941)  France philosophy
3 Rufino Blanco Fombona (1874–1844)  Venezuela essays, literary criticism Royal Spanish Academy[a]
4 Georg Bonne (1859–1945)  Germany essays professors[b]
5 Paul Bourget (1852–1935)  France novel, short story, literary criticism, essays René Bazin (1853–1932)
6 Otokar Březina (1868–1929)  Czechoslovakia poetry, essays
7 Olaf Bull (1883–1933)  Norway poetry Jens Thiis (1870–1942)
8 Blanca de los Ríos (1859–1956)  Spain poetry, novel, short story, essays
9 Anna de Noailles (1876–1933)  France novel, poetry, essays Tor Hedberg (1862–1931)
10 Theodor Däubler (1876–1934)  Italy
poetry, essays Oskar Walzel (1864–1944)
11 Olav Duun (1876–1939)  Norway novel, short story Halvdan Koht (1873–1965)
12 Hans Driesch (1867–1941)  Germany philosophy Kurt Breysig (1866–1940)
13 Paul Ernst (1866–1933)  Germany novel, short story, drama, essays
14 Concha Espina de la Serna (1869–1955)  Spain novel, short story
15 Édouard Estaunié (1862–1942)  France novel, literary criticism Erik Staaff (1867–1936)
16 James George Frazer (1854–1941)  United Kingdom history, essays, translation Martin Persson Nilsson (1874–1967)
17 Maxim Gorky (1868–1936)  Soviet Union novel, short story, drama, memoir, autobiography, essays, poetry
18 Ivan Grozev (1872–1957)  Bulgaria drama, poetry, literary criticism Mikhail Arnaudov (1878–1978)
19 Vilhelm Grønbech (1873–1948)  Denmark history, essays, poetry Johannes Pedersen (1883–1977)
20 Arno Holz (1863–1929)  Germany poetry, drama
21 Rudolf Maria Holzapfel (1874–1930)  Austria philosophy, essays
22 Edith Howes (1872–1954)  New Zealand novel, short story, drama, essays, pedagogy Francis Prendeville Wilson (1874–?)
23 Ricarda Huch (1864–1947)  Germany history, essays, novel, poetry
  • Johannes Sundwall (1877–1966)
  • professors from the universities in Switzerland[h]
24 Johannes Vilhelm Jensen (1873–1950)  Denmark novel, short story, poetry Frederik Poulsen (1876–1950)
25 Willem Kloos (1859–1938)  Netherlands poetry, essays, literary criticism Albert Verwey (1865–1937)
26 Karl Kraus (1874–1936)  Austria essays, drama, poetry Charles Andler (1866–1933)
27 Alf Larsen (1885–1967)  Norway poetry, essays Alexander Seippel (1851–1938)
28 Thomas Mann (1875–1955)  Germany novel, short story, drama, essays Anders Österling (1884–1981)
29 Armando Palacio Valdés (1853–1938)  Spain novel, short story, essays Royal Spanish Academy[i]
30 Kostis Palamas (1859–1943)  Greece poetry, essays Verner von Heidenstam (1859–1940)
31 J.-H. Rosny aîné (1856–1940)  France novel, short story
32 Felix Timmermans (1886–1947)  Belgium drama, novel, short story, poetry Arthur Boon (1883–1938)
33 Sigrid Undset (1882–1949)  Norway novel, memoir, essays Helga Eng (1875–1966)
34 Frederik van Eeden (1860–1932)  Netherlands novel, essays Gerard Brom (1882–1959)
35 Edith Wharton (1862–1937)  United States novel, short story, poetry, essays William Lyon Phelps (1865–1943)
36 Juan Zorrilla de San Martín (1855–1931)  Uruguay poetry members of the Academy of Lima and the Academy of Panama


  1. ^ Other unrecorded nominations were also made for Rufino Blanco Fombosa.
  2. ^ Georg Bonne's nominations were made by professors from Kiel, Halle (Saale), Freiburg im Breisgau, and others.
  3. ^ a b A. Novak and O. Fischer, as well as other nominating professors, were from the universities in Brno, Prague and Pressburg (now Bratislava), all in Czechoslovakia.
  4. ^ a b Blanca de los Rios de Lampérez was nominated by A. Rubió i Lluch and L. Eijo Garay, both members of the Spanish Academy
  5. ^ a b Paul Ernst was nominated by E. Ermatinger and R. Faesi, both professors of German literature at the University of Zurich
  6. ^ Arno Holz was nominated by a large number of German professors, several of whom were eligible to make a nomination.
  7. ^ Rudolf Maria Holzapfel was nominated by 3 members of the Prussian Academy of Arts. Nominations were also made by professors from Bern, Switzerland and Chicago, Illinois, United States, and others.
  8. ^ Ricarda Huch was nominated by professors from Bern and Freiburg, Jena, Berlin, Erlangen, Göttingen, Leipzig, Heidelberg and Munich, and others.
  9. ^ Armando Palacio Valdés was nominated by approximately 20 members of the Royal Spanish Academy, and also by a number of professors at Spanish universities.
  10. ^ Some members of Le Comité Rosny were eligible to make a nomination.


  1. ^ The Nobel Prize in Literature 1928 nobelprize.org
  2. ^ "MME. SIGRID UNDSET WINS NOBEL PRIZE; She Is Third Norwegian Author to Receive Coveted Honor for Literature. BERGSON ALSO A WINNER Frenchman, Gets Similar Award Held Over From 1927--Germans Get Chemistry Prizes". New York Times. 14 November 1928.
  3. ^ Sigrid Undset – Facts nobelprize.org
  4. ^ Nomination archive – Sigrid Undset nobelprize.org