1929 Nobel Prize in Literature
Thomas Mann
"principally for his great novel, Buddenbrooks, which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature."
  • 12 November 1929 (announcement)
  • 10 December 1929
LocationStockholm, Sweden
Presented bySwedish Academy
First awarded1901
WebsiteOfficial website
← 1928 · Nobel Prize in Literature · 1930 →

The 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the German author Thomas Mann (1875–1955) "principally for his great novel, Buddenbrooks, which has won steadily increased recognition as one of the classic works of contemporary literature."[1][2] He is the fourth German author to be awarded the literature prize after Paul von Heyse in 1910.


Main article: Thomas Mann

Thomas Mann was a prolific writer of fiction and novels who wrote in a variety of genres. He was a merchant's son and was supposed to inherit the family's grain business in Lübeck, but like his older brother Heinrich, he decided to focus on literature. In 1905, he married Katia Pringsheim, and the couple had six children, four of whom also became significant authors (Erika, Klaus, and Golo). His highly symbolic and ironic epic novels and novellas are noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and the intellectual. His analysis and critique of the European and German soul used modernized versions of German and Biblical stories, as well as the ideas of Goethe, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer. His best known oeuvres include Der Tod in Venedig ("Death in Venice", 1912), Der Zauberberg ("The Magic Mountain", 1924), Joseph und seine Brüder ("Joseph and His Brothers", 1933–1943), and Doktor Faustus ("Dr. Faustus", 1947).[3][4]

Mann's Buddenbrooks published in 1901.


Mann won the Nobel Prize primarily because of his breakthrough 1901 novel Buddenbrooks, which chronicles the decline of a wealthy north German merchant family over the course of four generations, incidentally portraying the manner of life and mores of the Hanseatic bourgeoisie in the years from 1835 to 1877. The novel was subtitled "a family's decline [verfall einer Familie]" in its original language. Although the Nobel award generally recognizes an author's body of work, the Swedish Academy identified it as the principal reason for his prize. The rationale could also be seen as a reference to one of Mann's later works, The Magic Mountain, a coming-of-age story and, together with Buddenbrooks, his most well-known composition.[3][4]


Thomas Mann was only nominated thrice before he was finally awarded in 1929. He was first nominated in 1924 by the 1912 Nobel Prize laureate Gerhart Hauptmann. His 1929 nomination came from the Nobel Committee member Anders Österling (1884–1981). In 1948, Mann was unconventionally nominated again by two Swedish Academy members (H. Gullberg and E. Löfstedt),[5] but his nomination was not considered during the deliberation process due to the reason that he was already a Nobel laureate.[6]

The Swedish Academy received 30 nominations for 24 authors among them Erik Axel Karlfeldt, Kostis Palamas, Johan Bojer, Édouard Estaunié, and Arno Holz. Six of the nominees were first-time nominated namely Stefan George, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Thorton Wilder, Cale Young Rice, Benedetto Croce, and Knud Rasmussen. The Spanish writer Concha Espina de la Serna was the only female nominee.[7]

The authors Olav Aukrust, Katharine Lee Bates, Barbara Baynton, Maurice Bouchor, Bliss Carman, Edward Carpenter, Lucy Clifford, Georges Courteline, Anna Bowman Dodd, Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler, Albert Giraud, Shtjefën Gjeçovi, Alice Stopford Green, Max Lehmann, Liang Qichao, Mary Elizabeth Mann, John Morris-Jones, Jānis Pliekšāns (known as Rainis), Hans Prutz, Grace Rhys, Dallas Lore Sharp, Flora Annie Steel, Vedam Venkataraya Sastry died in 1929 without having been nominated for the prize.

Official list of nominees and their nominators for the prize
No. Nominee Country Genre(s) Nominator(s)[a]
1 Rudolf Hans Bartsch (1873–1952)  Austria novel, short story, essays, drama Hugo Spitzer (1854–1937)
2 Rufino Blanco Fombona (1874–1844)  Venezuela essays, literary criticism Fidelino de Figueiredo (1888–1967)
3 Johan Bojer (1872–1959)  Norway novel, drama
4 Georg Bonne (1859–1945)  Germany essays
5 Otokar Březina (1868–1929)  Czechoslovakia poetry, essays 27 professors[b]
6 Benedetto Croce (1866–1952)  Italy history, philosophy, law
7 Paul Ernst (1866–1933)  Germany novel, short story, drama, essays 13 professors from Germany, Austria and Switzerland
8 Concha Espina de la Serna (1869–1955)  Spain novel, short story
9 Édouard Estaunié (1862–1942)  France novel, essays Erik Staaff (1867–1936)
10 Stefan George (1868–1933)  Germany poetry, translation Ernst Bertram (1884–1957)*
11 Bertel Gripenberg (1878–1947)  Finland
poetry, drama, essays Nathan Söderblom (1866–1931)*
12 Ivan Grozev (1872–1957)  Bulgaria drama, poetry, literary criticism Mikhail Arnaudov (1878–1978)*
13 Arno Holz (1863–1929)  Germany poetry, drama 412 professors and teachers[e]
14 Rudolf Maria Holzapfel (1874–1930)  Austria philosophy, essays 3 members of the Prussian Academy of Arts
15 William Ralph Inge (1860–1954)  United Kingdom theology, essays Nathan Söderblom (1866–1931)
16 Erik Axel Karlfeldt (1884–1931)  Sweden poetry
17 Thomas Mann (1875–1955)  Germany novel, short story, drama, essays Anders Österling (1884–1981)
18 Kostis Palamas (1859–1943)  Greece poetry, essays Frederik Poulsen (1876–1950)
19 Knud Rasmussen (1897–1933)  Denmark short story, memoir, essays William Thalbitzer (1873–1958)
20 Cale Young Rice (1872–1943)  United States poetry, drama Edward Franklin Farquhar (1883–1960)*
21 Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869–1935)  United States poetry, drama Hjalmar Hammarskjöld (1862–1953)
22 Henrik Schück (1855–1947)  Sweden literary criticism, essays Ulrik Anton Motzfeldt (1871–1942)
23 Ludwig von Pastor (1854–1928)  Germany history Olof Kolsrud (1885–1945)*
24 Thornton Wilder (1897–1975)  United States drama, novel, short story Anders Österling (1884–1981)

Prize decision

In 1924, when Thomas Mann was first nominated for the prize, the Nobel committee were divided. His candidacy was supported by committee chairman Per Hallström and Anders Österling, while other members had doubts to award Mann. It was decided to await his next work for further deliberations. Following the publication of the novel The Magic Mountain, Mann was nominated again by Österling in 1928, but the Nobel committee concluded that the novel (later widely regarded as Mann's masterpiece) was not as strong as his earlier works. Per Hallström in particular pushed for a prize to Mann, and the following year the committee agreed on that Thomas Mann should be awarded the prize, primarily for the novel Buddenbrooks. The Swedish Academy followed the recommendation and voted for a prize to Mann.[6]


  1. ^ The asterisks (*) denote nominations that were received after the deadline for 1928 and was moved to 1929.
  2. ^ Otokar Březina was nominated by 27 professors from Prague, Brünn (Brno) and Pressburg (now Bratislava), all in former Czechoslovakia.
  3. ^ Concha Espina's nomination came from Barcelona, Granada, Santiago de Compostela, Valencia and Bordeaux, among others, in 13 separate letters.
  4. ^ E. Walberg, professor at Lund, corroborated Fredrik Wulff's nomination of Concha Espina.
  5. ^ A. Holz was nominated by 412 professors and other teachers at German, Austrian, Swiss and other universities and colleges. The nominations were sent by the Faculty of Philosophy at the university in Königsberg, Germany
  6. ^ a b Erik Axel Karlfeldt was nominated by D. Seip and I. Alnaes, both members of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.


  1. ^ The Nobel Prize in Literature 1929 nobelprize.org
  2. ^ "THOMAS MANN WINS NOBEL PRIZE FOR 1929; German Author of "Buddenbrooks" Was Long Mentioned for Greatest Literary Award.WINNER RECEIVES $46,299Prof. Richardson and Duc de Broglie Get 1928 and 1929 Awards for Work in Physics.CHEMISTRY PRIZE DIVIDEDArthur Harden, London University, and Hans von Euler, Upsala,Share 1929 Distinction". New York Times. 13 November 1929.
  3. ^ a b Thomas Mann – Facts nobelprize.org
  4. ^ a b Thomas Mann britannica.com
  5. ^ Nomination archive – Thomas Mann nobelprize.org
  6. ^ a b Alan Asaid (25 September 2012). "Thomas Mann och nobelpriset". kulturdelen.com.
  7. ^ Nomination archive – 1929 nobelprize.org