1932 Nobel Prize in Literature
John Galsworthy
"for his distinguished art of narration which takes its highest form in The Forsyte Saga."
  • 10 November 1932 (announcement)
  • 10 December 1932
LocationStockholm, Sweden
Presented bySwedish Academy
First awarded1901
WebsiteOfficial website
← 1931 · Nobel Prize in Literature · 1933 →

The 1932 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the British author John Galsworthy (1867–1933) "for his distinguished art of narration which takes its highest form in The Forsyte Saga".[1] When Galworthy was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, only the second English author to receive the award since its inception in 1901.[a]


Main article: John Galsworthy

John Galsworthy is best known for the novel sequence The Forsyte Saga which chronicles the lives of three generations of a large, upper-middle-class family at the turn of the 19th/20th century. Galsworthy was also a successful playwright who examined controversial ethical or social problems in plays such as Strife (1909), Justice (1910) and Loyalties (1922).[2][3]

Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga

The Forsyte Saga

The first book in this extensive series was published in 1906. The upper middle classes and Galsworthy's own upbringing were harshly criticized in The Man of Property. Galsworthy did not start working on it right away; he had to wait fifteen years, during which World War I broke out, before he started again with In Chancery (1920) and To Let (1921). He had penned a sizable quantity of plays, short stories, and novels in the interim. The three volumes of A Modern Comedy, The White Monkey (1924), The Silver Spoon (1926), Swan Song (1928), and its two interludes, A Silent Wooing and Passersby (1927), carried on the Forsyte Saga. These should be supplemented with a collection of short stories called On Forsyte Change (1930).[2] Of Galsworthy's 20 novels, nine are about the Forsytes (the last three tangentially so) and the other eleven are all one-off stories.


John Galsworthy was nominated six times (19191922, 1931 and 1932) before he was awarded the prize in 1932. His first nomination came from Erik Axel Karlfeldt (1864–1931), the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy. Others were from the persistent recommendation by other academy members such as Anders Österling, Martin Lamm, and Henrik Schück.[4]

In total, the Nobel Committee received 48 nominations for 31 writers which included Ramón Menéndez Pidal, Ivan Bunin (awarded in 1933), Frans Eemil Sillanpää (awarded in 1939), Johannes V. Jensen (awarded in 1944), Paul Valéry, Kostis Palamas, Olav Duun, and H. G. Wells. Nine of the nominees were newly nominated namely Percival Elgood, Michael Blümelhuber, Grigol Robakidze, Axel Munthe, Francesco Orestano, Karel Čapek, Vilhelm Ekelund, Manuel Gálvez and Upton Sinclair. The Spanish author Concha Espina de la Serna was the only female nominee.[5]

The authors Christopher Brennan, Mona Caird, Charles W. Chesnutt, Hart Crane, Evelyn Everett-Green, J. Meade Falkner, Kenneth Grahame, Ella Hepworth Dixon, Augusta Gregory, Jonas Mačiulis (known as Maironis), Gustav Meyrink, Harold Monro, Iacob Negruzzi, Giuseppe Peano, Sibylle Riqueti de Mirabeau (known as Gyp), Ahmed Shawqi, Frederick Jackson Turner, Edgar Wallace, Henry S. Whitehead and Emma Wolf died in 1932 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 Michael Blümelhuber (1865–1936)  Austria essays, poetry Oswald Redlich (1858–1944)
2 Johan Bojer (1872–1959)  Norway novel, drama Anders Sandvig (1862–1950)
3 Georg Bonne (1859–1945)  Germany essays
4 Olaf Bull (1883–1933)  Norway poetry
5 Ivan Bunin (1870–1953)  Soviet Union short story, novel, poetry
6 Karel Čapek (1890–1938)  Czechoslovakia drama, novel, short story, essays, literary criticism 10 professors of the University in Prague
7 Hans Driesch (1867–1941)  Germany philosophy
  • Ernest Bovet (1870–1941)
  • Fritz Kern (1884–1950)
8 Olav Duun (1876–1939)  Norway novel, short story
9 Vilhelm Ekelund (1880–1949)  Sweden poetry, essays Alexander Seippel (1851–1938)
10 Percival Elgood (1863–1941)  United Kingdom
history Arthur James Grant (1862–1948)
11 Paul Ernst (1866–1933)  Germany novel, short story, drama, essays Fredrik Böök (1883–1961)
12 Concha Espina de la Serna (1869–1955)  Spain novel, short story
13 John Galsworthy (1867–1933)  United Kingdom novel, drama, essays, short story, memoir Henrik Schück (1855–1947)
14 Manuel Gálvez (1882–1962)  Argentina novel, poetry, drama, essays, history, biography
15 Bertel Gripenberg (1878–1947)  Finland
poetry, drama, essays Arno Cederberg (1885–1948)[b]
16 Johannes Vilhelm Jensen (1873–1950)  Denmark novel, short story, poetry
  • Paul Rubow (1896–1972)
  • Hans Brix (1870–1961)
  • Johannes Brøndum-Nielsen (1881–1977)
17 Johannes Jørgensen (1866–1956)  Denmark novel, poetry, biography Viggo Brøndal (1887–1942)
18 Rudolf Kassner (1873–1959)  Austria philosophy, essays, translation Several professors[c]
19 Ramón Menéndez Pidal (1869–1968)  Spain philology, history
20 Dmitry Merezhkovsky (1865–1941)  Soviet Union novel, essays, poetry, drama Sigurd Agrell (1881–1937)
21 Axel Munthe (1857–1949)  Sweden
memoir, essays Rolf Lagerborg (1874–1959)
22 Francesco Orestano (1873–1945)  Italy philosophy, essays Pietro Bonfante (1864–1932)
23 Kostis Palamas (1859–1943)  Greece poetry, essays Simos Menardos (1871–1933)
24 Grigol Robakidze (1880–1962)  Georgia novel, short story, poetry, drama Richard Meckelein (1880–1948)
25 Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869–1935)  United States poetry, drama Hjalmar Hammarskjöld (1862–1953)
26 Ivan Shmelyov (1873–1950)  Soviet Union
novel, short story Nicolaas van Wijk (1880–1941)
27 Frans Eemil Sillanpää (1888–1964)  Finland novel, short story, poetry
28 Upton Sinclair (1878–1968)  United States novel, short story, drama, autobiography, essays
  • 800 nominators[d]
29 Paul Valéry (1871–1945)  France poetry, philosophy, essays, drama
30 Herbert George Wells (1866–1946)  United Kingdom novel, short story, essays, history, biography Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951)
31 Anton Wildgans (1881–1932)  Austria poetry, drama


The choice of John Galsworthy caused a group of young Swedish authors to protest against the Swedish Academy's conservatism by sending a telegram to the Russian author Maxim Gorky, regretting that he hade not been awarded the prize.[6]


  1. ^ The first English author to receive the prize was Rudyard Kipling, in 1907. Between the two awards, the prize had gone to three non-English authors who wrote in English: W. B. Yeats (1923), Bernard Shaw (1925), and Sinclair Lewis (1930); Rabindranath Tagore (1913) also sometimes wrote in English.
  2. ^ a b Frans Eemil Sillanpää and Bertel Gripenberg were nominated together by Arno R. Cederberg, though the nominations have different entry numbers.
  3. ^ Rudolf Kassner was nominated by a number of German, Austrian and Swiss professors, most of whom were eligible to nominate a candidate.
  4. ^ 800 nominations from all over the world were collected and sent together, by Ernest S. Greene (1864–1936), secretary of a committee in New York, United States. Among the nominators were members of the French and Spanish Academies, and professors (eligible to nominate) from several universities.
  5. ^ Several were members of the French Academy (Académie Française), and Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.

Award ceremony speech

In his award ceremony speech on 10 December 1932, Anders Österling of the Swedish Academy praised the Forsyte Saga as "a masterpiece of an energetic, firm, and independent account of human nature", noting that the two trilogies "together form an unusual literary accomplishment. The novelist has carried the history of his time through three generations, and his success in mastering so excellently his enormously difficult material, both in its scope and in its depth, remains an extremely memorable feat in English literature"[7]


  1. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Literature 1932". nobelprize.org.
  2. ^ a b "John Galsworthy". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  3. ^ "John Galsworthy – Facts". nobelprize.org.
  4. ^ "Nomination archive – John Galsworthy". nobelprize.org.
  5. ^ "Nomination archive – Literature 1932". nobelprize.org.
  6. ^ Gustav Källstrand Andens Olympiska Spel. Nobelprisets historia Fri Tanke 2021, p. 451
  7. ^ "Award ceremony speech". nobelprize.org.