Nobel Prize Winning Authors–A Test

Nobel Prizes for literature have been awarded since 1901.  They are given to living authors whose writings as a whole have, in the words of Alfred Nobel himself, “in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”  There are, no doubts questions both about some of whom have won and some great authors who did not receive this international recognition.

I firmly believe in what I call “Ancillary Learning.”  By that, I mean learning that provides something additional or supplementary or complementary to the subject at hand.  I also love lists.  I also yearn to read more and more authors.  Most of my literary reading has been American authors.  The British come in second; the ancient Greeks third; the Russians fourth, and other Europeans fifth.  There are whole worlds of literary traditions both within the European realm and the nations and cultures beyond that I have yet to explore.

I recently devoted a bit of time at the beginning of class to Nobel Prize winners in the field of literature.  The goal is to always be moving information through these stages:

never heard of it

to heard of it

to heard of it several times

to actually learned something about it

to learned more about it.

A for some topics and some students, the next step:  Becoming very knowledgeable about it.

For starters, I wanted my students to know about American and British Nobel Prize Winners.  Beyond that, there are some Irish, French, and Russians on the test below.  Also a couple of recent winners are included.

Take the test if you wish.  Don’t look up the answers until after you have tried your best.


1. Nobel Prizes are named after ________________________________,

2. who invented ______________________________________________.

3. The prizes are given each year and include a financial gift and the opportunity to give a speech in ___________________________, _________________________

Nobel Prizes are given various areas, including the following:

4. ________________________________________________

5. ________________________________________________

6. ________________________________________________

7. ________________________________________________

The following Americans have won Nobel Prizes in literature:

8. ________________________________________________,

the first American and the author of Babbit and Main Street. 1930

9. ________________________________________________,

the daughter of missionaries and the author of The Good Earth. 1938

10. ________________________________________________,

Mississippi author of The Sound and the Fury and Go Down, Moses. 1949

11. ________________________________________________,

the author of A Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea. 1954

12. ________________________________________________,

the author of The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men.

13. Name one of the following American winners:

The 1936 winner was ________________________________________________, a playwright who wrote Desire Under the Elms and The Hairy Ape.

The 1978 winner was ______________________________________, a Jewish writer who wrote in Yiddish. He is often described as a great story teller.

The 1987 winner was _______________________________, a Russian poet who was expelled from his native country and became the Poet Laureate of the U. S.

The 1976 winner was ________________________________________________, a writer of Canadian and American heritage who wrote Humbolt’s Gift and Henderson the Rain King.

14. The first African-American female to win the prize is ________________________________________________, the author of Beloved. 1993

15. In 2013, ________________________________________________, the author of many short stories who is from Canada, won the prize.

16. Russian winners include _____________________________________, who wrote One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, The Gulag Archipelago, The First Circle, and Cancer Ward (1970),

17. And ___________________________________, who wrote Doctor Zhivago and who refused the award in 1958.

British winners include:

18. _________________________________, author of The Jungle Book, Captains Courageous, and such poems as “If” and “Gunga Din,” was the first Englishman to win the prize. (1907)

19. Born in America, the poet and literary critic ______________________________ moved to the United Kingdom and spent his career there. He won the prize in 1948 and is well remembered for such poems as “The Waste Land,” “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock,” and “Journey of the Magi” (Mr. H’s favorite), and for books such as Christianity and Culture.

19. ______________________________, a philosopher who wrote A History of Western Philosophy and Why I am not a Christian, won the prize in 1950.

20. Best known as the political and military leader of Great Britain during World War II, ________________________________ was also a writer and a historian. He won the prize in 1953.

21. This British author is best remembered for the book Lord of the Flies. He won the Nobel Prize in 1983 and is named ______________________________.

22. Name one of the other 4 winners from the United Kingdom.

Two French writers who held to the philosophy of Existentialism won the prize.

23. ___________________________________, author of Nausea and No Exit, won it, but declined it in 1964.

24. __________________________________, author of The Stranger and The Plague, won it in 1957.

Irish winners included

25. __________________________________, poet whose work includes “The Second Coming” and “Easter 1916,” won in 1923. He was a big influence on C. S. Lewis.

26. The 1925 winner was _________________________________, the playwright best remembered for Pygmalion (renamed “My Fair Lady” in the movie version) and Major Barbara.

27. __________________________________, a playwright who is remembered for Waiting for Godot, won in 1969.

28. __________________________________, a poet whose poetry and translation of Beowulf are popular, won it in 1995.

29. The 2014 winner was _______________________ of _________________________.

Svetlana Alexievich

30.  The 2015 winner was _______________________ of _________________________.


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