1936 Nobel Prize in Literature
Eugene O'Neill
"for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy"
  • 12 November 1937 (announcement)
  • 10 December 1937
LocationStockholm, Sweden
Presented bySwedish Academy
First awarded1901
WebsiteOfficial website
← 1935 · Nobel Prize in Literature · 1937 →

The 1936 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the American playwright Eugene O'Neill (1888–1953) "for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy". The prize was awarded in 1937.[1] He is the second American to become a literature laureate after Sinclair Lewis in 1930.


Main article: Eugene O'Neill

Influenced by the realist playwrights Chekhov, Strindberg and Ibsen, Eugene O'Neill is regarded as the foremost American dramatist of the 20th century. His plays were among the first to include speeches in American English vernacular and involve characters on the fringes of society who struggle to maintain their hopes and aspirations, but ultimately slide into disillusion and despair. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize three times, first for Beyond the Horizon (1920), his debut play, followed by Anna Christie in 1922 and Strange Interlude in 1928. Mourning Becomes Electra (1931) and the posthumous Long Day's Journey into Night is regarded as two masterpieces in a long string of plays.[2][3]

In a writing career that revolves around human tragedies, Ah, Wilderness! is O'Neill's only well-known comedy.



Eugene O'Neill was nominated for the prize three times (1934, 1935, and 1936.[4] In 1936 the Nobel committee received 47 nominations for 27 writers including Paul Valéry, António Correia de Oliveira, Miguel Unamuno, Kostis Palamas, Olav Duun, Jarl Hemmer, Karel Capek, Benedetto Croce, Roger Martin du Gard (awarded in 1937) and Johannes V. Jensen (awarded in 1944). Ten were newly nominated such as Georges Duhamel, Ludwig Klages, Sigmund Freud, Cécile Tormay, Enrica von Handel-Mazzetti and Arvid Mörne. Most nominations were submitted for the Finnish author Frans Emil Sillanpää (awarded in 1939) with five nominations, including two nominations suggesting a shared prize with Jarl Hemmer and Arvid Mörne respectively. Only two women were nominated namely Cécile Tormay Tormay and Enrica von Handel-Mazzetti.[5]

The authors Juliette Adam, Jacques Bainville, Mateiu Caragiale, James Churchward, Eugène Dabit, Adolf de Herz, Teresa de la Parra, Ramón del Valle-Inclán, Stefan Grabiński, Federico García Lorca, A. E. Housman, M. R. James, Kitty Lee Jenner, Dezső Kosztolányi, Mikhail Kuzmin, Mourning Dove, Elizabeth Robins Pennell, Kristína Royová, Moritz Schlick, Jan Jacob Slauerhoff, Oswald Spengler, Dhanpat Rai Srivastava (known as Premchand), Heinrich Rickert, Ferdinand Tönnies, Lidia Veselitskaya and Zhou Shuren (known as Lu Xun) died in 1936 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 Hari Mohan Banerjee (d. 1960)  India essays Devadatta R. Bhandarkar (1875–1950)
2 António Correia de Oliveira (1878–1960)  Portugal poetry Luís da Cunha Gonçalvez (1875–1956)
3 Benedetto Croce (1866–1952)  Italy history, philosophy, law Julius von Schlosser (1866–1938)
4 Karel Čapek (1890–1938)  Czechoslovakia drama, novel, short story, essays, literary criticism several professors[a]
5 Miguel de Unamuno (1864–1936)  Spain novel, poetry, philosophy, essays, drama
  • Manuel García Blanco (1902–1966)[b]
  • José Camón Aznar (1898–1979)
  • Francisco Maldonado de Guevara (1891–1985)
  • José María Ramos Loscertales (1890–1956)
6 Asis Domet (1890–1943)  Mandatory Palestine essays, translation G. E. Khoury (?)
7 Roger Martin du Gard (1881–1958)  France novel, drama, memoir Torsten Fogelqvist (1880–1941)
8 Georges Duhamel (1884–1966)  France novel, short story, poetry, drama, literary criticism Hjalmar Hammarskjöld (1862–1953)
9 Olav Duun (1876–1939)  Norway novel, short story
10 Alfred Edward Evershed (1870–1941)  Australia essays, pedagogy Elias Edward Miller (1878–1937)
11 Hans Fallada (1893–1947)  Germany novel, short story Martin Lamm (1880–1950)
12 Sigmund Freud (1856–1939)  Austria essays Romain Rolland (1866–944)
13 Jarl Hemmer (1893–1944)  Finland poetry, novel
14 Johannes Vilhelm Jensen (1873–1950)  Denmark novel, short story, essays
  • Johannes Brøndum-Nielsen (1881–1977)
  • Frithiof Brandt (1892–1968)
  • Carl Adolf Bodelsen (1894–1978)
  • Vilhelm Andersen (1864–1953)
15 Ludwig Klages (1872–1956)  Germany philosophy, poetry, essays Wilhelm Pinder (1878–1947)
16 Erwin Guido Kolbenheyer (1878–1962)  Austria novel, short story, poetry, drama Hans-Friedrich Rosenfeld (1899–1993)
17 Dmitry Merezhkovsky (1865–1941)  Soviet Union novel, essays, poetry, drama Sigurd Agrell (1881–1937)
18 Arvid Mörne (1876–1946)  Finland poetry, drama, novel, essays Gunnar Landtman (1878–1940)[c]
19 Eugene O'Neill (1888–1953)  United States drama Henrik Schück (1855–1947)
20 Kostis Palamas (1859–1943)  Greece poetry, essays
21 Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888–1975)  India philosophy, essays, law Hjalmar Hammarskjöld (1862–1953)
22 Frans Eemil Sillanpää (1888–1964)  Finland novel, short story, poetry
23 Hermann Stehr (1864–1940)  Germany novel, short story, poetry, drama Hermann August Korff (1882–1963)
24 Cécile Tormay (1875–1937)  Hungary novel, short story, essays, translation
  • Jenö Pintér (1921–1988)
  • János Horváth (1878–1961)
  • Károly Pap (1897–1945)
  • János Hankiss (1893–1959)
25 Paul Valéry (1871–1945)  France poetry, philosophy, essays, drama
26 Edvarts Virza (1883–1940)  Latvia poetry, essays, translation
  • Francis Balodis (1882–1947)[e]
  • Ludis Bērziņš (1870–1965)[e]
27 Enrica von Handel-Mazzetti (1871–1955)  Austria novel, poetry, essays
  • Moriz Enzinger (1891–1975)[f]
  • Josef Nadler (1884–1963)[f]

Prize decision

In 1936, the Nobel Committee decided that none of this year's nominations met the criteria as outlined in the will of Alfred Nobel. According to the Nobel Foundation's statutes, the Nobel Prize can in such a case be reserved until the following year, and this statute was then applied, and the 1936 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded the following year.[1]

Banquet speech

Because of the state of his health, Eugene O'Neill was unable to travel to Stockholm to receive the prize. But he delivered a speech that was read by the American chargé d'affaires at the banquet in Stockholm City Hall. In the speech, O'Neill paid tribute to the Swedish dramatist August Strindberg and the great influence Strindberg had on his work.[6]


  1. ^ Several professors of history and history of literature from the Prague, Czech Republic.
  2. ^ Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo was nominated by J. Ramos Loscertales, F. Maldonado, J. Camón Aznar and M. Garcia Blanco, with approval from 6 other professors, all from Salamanca University.
  3. ^ a b c G. Landtman suggested the Nobel Committee to award F. Sillanpää alone. His second suggestion, to share the prize with Sillanpää, was J. Hemmer or A. Mörne.
  4. ^ a b Valéry was nominated jointly by J. Bidez and J. Salverda de Grave, both member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
  5. ^ a b E. Virza was nominated by L. Bērziņš and F. Balodis
  6. ^ a b E. von Handel-Mazzetti was jointly nominated by J. Nadler and M. Enzinger


  1. ^ a b "The Nobel Prize in Literature 1936". nobelprize.org.
  2. ^ "Eugene O'Neill". britannica.com.
  3. ^ Eugene O'Neill – Facts nobelprize.org
  4. ^ "Nomination archive - Eugene O'Neill". nobelprize.org.
  5. ^ "Nomination archive - Literature 1936". nobelprize.org. April 2020.
  6. ^ "Banquet speech". nobelprize.org.