Nobel Laureates in Literature: Women’s Division

woman writing

(photo: Mike Licht, Creative Commons License)

In the past 111 years, only 13 women have received Nobel awards for literature. This Infographic lists them (and, if you’re like me, many still slumber in obscurity) and may make us hope that Virginia Woolf was wrong when she said, “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.”

But when you look at the whole list, many of the men are not well known, either. The male winners the year previous to the first five female winners were, after all: Rudolph Christoph Eucken, George Bernard Shaw (heard of him!), Henri Bergson, Roger Martin du Gard, and Johannes Vilhelm Jensen.

And women still choose to obscure their gender with initials or pseudonyms. Why they/we do it! This handy tool lets you paste your text and assess whether it comes off as more “male” or “female.” I just used it on two short stories—one from a mostly male point of view (judged by the tool as “weakly male”) and one from a female point of view (“weakly female”). Hmm. Creators of the tool say “weakness” suggests the writer “could be European.” Not quite sure how to interpret that!