Famous Authors of World Literature Denied The Nobel Prize in Literature

In October 2009, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature was announced. The winner is not a world-renowned author. You never heard of their name. Well, some of the most legendary authors of world literature whose literary works are studied and appreciated worldwide never recieved the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Whether you attended a Literature class in high school, college, or graduate school, or read their literary works, these are the legendary authors who were denied the coveted Nobel Prize for Literature, the world’s highest literary award for any author in world literature. I want to start with the number 36 author, and end with the number one author who I feel deserves the Nobel Prize the most because this author is truly a LIVING LEGEND of world literature! Here are those notable authors.

36. George Orwell (England)

This British author was legendary for his classic novels, Animal Farm and 1984.

35. Truman Capote (United States of America)

This legendary American author was famous for his novels In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

34. Jack Karouac (United States of America)

This American author was a legendary English poet and novelist. He is the author of the classic novel On The Road, and of a poem called Sketches.

33. Kurt Vonnegut (United States of America)

This American staple of clasical English fiction wrote the classic novels Slaughter House 5, Breakfast of Champions, and Cat’s Cradle.

32. Chaim Potok (United States of America)

This Jewish American author wrote the classic novels The Chosen, The Promise, My Name is Asher Lev, Davita’s Harp, and The Gift of Asher Lev.

31. Aldous Huxley (England)

This British writer was legendary for his classic novels Brave New World, The Doors of Perception, Island, and Point Counterpoint.

30. Edith Wharton (United States of America)

This American author was legendary for her classic English novels The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth, and Ethan Frome.

29. Jack London (United States of America)

This American author was truly legendary. His American English novels are staple classic must-reads in junior-high, high school, college, and graduate school in the United States. His classic novels include The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and The Sea Wolf.

28. Henry James (England)

This British man was a genius with his English novels! They include the masterpieces The Turn Of The Screw, The Portrait Of A Lady, The Wings Of The Dove, Daisy Miller, and The Ambassadors. A shame he was denied the Nobel in his lifetime!

27. E.M. Forster (England)

This British man was simply a legend! How dare he never won the Nobel Prize! He is one of the 20th Century’s legendary English writers! His many classic English novels include A Room With A View, Howard’s End, and A Passage To India, staples of English literature in any American high school or university!

26. Tennessee Williams (United States of America)

This American playwright is a legend of 20th century American English literature! He is famous for the plays A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, The Night of The Iguana, and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. These plays have been studied in every American high school and university in the United States!

25. Arthur Miller (United States of America)

This American man is one of the greatest American playwrights of the 20th and 21st centuries and husband to the late Marilyn Monroe. His classic English plays include Death Of A Salesman, The Crucible, and A View From The Bridge,literary workd famous in every American high school and university in the United States!

24. F. Scott Fitzgerald (United States of America)

One of the greatest American novelists of the 20th Century! His classic English novels include The Great Gatsby, This Side Of Paradise, The Beautiful And The Damned, and Tender Is The Night.

23. Virginia Woolf (England)

This British woman is a staple of English literature in America! Her classic English novels include Mrs. Dalloway, To The Lighthouse, Orlando, andA Room Of One’s Own. A shame she never won the Nobel Prize!

22. D.H. Lawrence (England)

This British man was famous for his English novels Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women In Love, and Lady Chatterly’s Lover. These novels are classics of English literature!

21. Joseph Conrad (Ukraine)

This man is the most famous author of Ukrainian 20th century fiction. He is famous for the Ukrainian novels Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness.

20. Franz Kafka (Austria)

This man was legendary! His Austrian novels are famous in English speaking countries. His famous novels are The Metamorphosis, In The Penal Colony, The Castle, Amerika and The Trial.

19. Ezra Pound (United States of America)

This famous legend was an American poet famous for his long English poem, The Cantos.

18. Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina)

This Argentinian was famous for winning the FIRST PULITZER PRIZE in history. He was contender for the Nobel Prize for 20 years! But he was denied because of his favoritism for Josef Stalin’s political beliefs. Borges was the legend of surrealist novels that he wrote in Spanish. He is considered one of the greatest Hispanic authors for Hispanic people worldwide.

17. Robert Frost (United States of America)

Can you believe that this legendary American poet never won the Nobel Prize, simply because he was ignored by the Nobel Prize Committee for 20 years? This legend won 4 Pulitzer Prizes! Four! And his poems are famous in the United States, especially the 1920 poem, The Road Not Taken. He is the greatest American poet of the 20th Century.

16. Emile Zola (France)

This Frenchman wrote over 30 French novels and was denied the Nobel Prize twice.

15. Nikos Kazantzakis (Greece)

This man of Greece was famous for his Greek novels Zorba The Greek and The Last Temptation, and the epic Greek poem, The Odyssey A Modern Sequel. He lost to Albert Camus of France for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946.

14. Marcel Proust (France)

This man of Paris, France was famous for his huge French novel, In Search of Lost Time.

13. Vladimir Nabokov (Russia)

This man of Russia was famous for the 1955 Russian novel, Lolita.

12. Leo Tolstoy (Russia)

This man of Russia was famous for his Russian novels, Anna Karenina and War and Peace.

11. Henrik Ibsen (Norway)

This playwright was famous for the Norwegian plays, Hedda Gabler, Peer Gynt, and A Doll’s House.

10. Anton Chekhov (Russia)

This Russian man was famous for his Russian short stories and plays.

9. James Joyce (Ireland)

This Irish man was famous for the English short story collection, Dubliners, and his three masterpiece English novels, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and Finnegan’s Wake.

8. Mark Twain (United States of America)

This American man was legendary in American English literature for the classic English novels The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

7. John Updike (United States of America)

This legendary American author is famous for the classical American English novels Rabbit Is Rich and Rabbit At Rest, both winning the Pulitzer Prize and the novel, The Witches of Eastwick, which became a famous 1987 film worldwide starring Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer. He has been rejected the Nobel Prize 3 times and is still waiting to finally win one. But he has American competitors for the same prize who are coming later in this list.

6. W.H. Auden (England)

This British man was famous for his collection of English poems. He was rejected the Nobel Prize.

5. E.E. Cummings (United States of America)

This American poet was famous for his free verse poetry and influences modern English poets of free verse today.

4. Salman Rushdie (England)

This Indian man of British citizenship was denied the Nobel Prize because of the controversy with the fatwa issued by Iranian leader Ayotolla Khomeini in 1989 for his infamous English novel, The Satanic Verses.

3. Philip Roth (United States of America)

This American author is legendary for award winning English fiction novels like American Pastoral, I Married a Communist, and The Human Stain. He has been rejected for the Nobel Prize 3 times including this year, 2009, and will keep waiting every year until he finally wins one. He has two American authors as competitors. They are the number 2 and number 1 next on the list.

2. Thomas Pynchon (United States of America)

This legend of American English fiction novels is famous for the classic English novels V, which became a popular science fiction TV series in 1983,Gravity’s Rainbow, The Crying of Lot 49, Vineland, Mason & Dixon, Against the Day, and Inherent Vice. Pynchon has been rejected numerous times for the Nobel Prize for Literature. He is still waiting to be nominated for a win.

1. Joyce Carol Oates (United States of America)

This legendary American author of numerous English American fiction novels, short stories, plays, and poetry was rejected 4 times for the Nobel Prize in Literature. She lost her fourth time this year in 2009. The Nobel is the only literary prize of high merit she has not earned yet. She is currently a distinguished honorary English Literature Professor at Princeton University at Princeton, New Jersey, USA.


These are the most famous authors in the world who have been denied the Nobel Prize for Literature. Four of them are still alive and have been rejected numerous times by the Nobel Prize Selection Committee: John Updike, Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon, and Joyce Carol Oates. And these living legends are all American. Hopefully, all of them will win the prize before they pass on, especially my personal favorite, Joyce Carol Oates! I hope she wins in 2010!

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  1. Posted October 10, 2009 at 7:15 pm



  2. Posted October 10, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Cool article

  3. Posted October 10, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    E.M. Forster is one of my favorites. Great compilation.

  4. Posted October 14, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Great article. Very informative. I’ve read Orwells Homage to Catalonia, Conrads Heart of Darkness. All of Kerouacs work. I’m a big beat generation fan. William S. Burroughs,Huxley, Dostovesky, Gogol, Joyce as well. So many great authors that have influenced so many. Another favorite of mine is Kafka. What a genius and tortured soul. Great article! Never new they had not been more recognized.

  5. najeem
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 5:17 am

    wow its so gr8 the pics help me on a project thanksssss

  6. Posted June 29, 2011 at 3:24 am




    Posted February 20, 2012 at 6:59 am


  8. Battle Chimp
    Posted March 20, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Just so you know, the science fiction tv series “V” has absolutely nothing to do with Thomas Pynchon’s novel.

  9. Bob
    Posted March 20, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    There is so much misinformation in these descriptions. Lolita was written in English not Russian. And calling people like Kerouac an “English Poet” is just confusing. It makes him sound British. This whole thing I terribly written and really frustrating. Ugh. Please revise.

  10. Fantod
    Posted March 21, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    That’s not Thomas Pynchon!

  11. Posted September 7, 2012 at 3:39 am

    That’s no THOMAS PYNCHON!!!!!!! ‘tsk’!

  12. Cartaphilus
    Posted October 13, 2012 at 9:10 am

    When reading that Borges was omitted because of his stalinism I had to laugh out loud. From where on Earth did the author get this info? In fact he was a conservative and staunchly anticommunist and some speculate that he was omitted for this reason. (The reason for the omission is not a certainty but only a popular speculation.)

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