Thursday, April 03, 2008


Wladislaw Reymant. Literature, 1924.

How To Win A Nobel Prize

Be A Man

Few Nobels go to women. Only two women, for instance, have won the Physics gong, and no woman has ever won the Economics prize. The Mrs Lucas who shared Prof Robert Lucas’s Economics prize-money in 1995 only got that because she stipulated she wanted half of everything in their divorce.

Be Clever

Going to the right highbrow educational institution helps. The Bronx Science High School in New York has alone produced five ‘Nobellians’. Chicago Uni boasts 58 Laureates on its roster; Harvard 35. And tiny Trinity College Cambridge has won more Nobels than all of Japan.

Be Nominated

Nomination-papers for the six Nobel prize categories (Peace, Literature, Medicine, Economics, Physics, Chemistry) are sent out in November each year by the Swedish Academy. The papers go to thousands of universities, academics, and previous prize-winners all around the world. So all you’ve got to do is befriend a Nobel Laureate. Try taking out Mrs Betty Williams of Belfast (Peace, 1975) for a Babycham.

Be Recommended

Once the nomination papers are in (by February 1st) the Swedish Academy forwards them to various committees. These groups of Nordic brainiacs then spend the summer assessing the relative merits of the nominees. If lasting achievement is anything to go by, the easiest categories to win seem to be Peace and Literature. Henry Kissinger won the Peace prize in 1973 for stopping the war in Vietnam. The war then started again. Anonymous non-entities who’ve won the Literature prize include Shmuel Agnon (1966), Bjornsterne Bjornson (1903), and Selma Lagerloef (1907).

Be Happy

Winning a Nobel is well worth the effort. Dynamite-inventor Alfred Nobel, who started the whole shebang in 1901, left 33 million Swedish crowns in his will to fund the awards. With inflation this money has swollen, such that every Nobel prize-winner now gets 7.9m crowns - nearly a million quid. And you wondered why John Hume (Peace, 1998) was looking so chirpy. Moreover, when you turn up at Stockholm’s Concert Hall on December 10 to collect your cheque, you also get a solid gold medal - none of your plated Olympics rubbish. So get to it.

No comments: