Alfred Nobel: Interest in Literature and Writing


During his lifetime, Alfred Nobel was recognized far more as an inventor and industrialist than for his interest in arts. His second home, however, was in literature and writing. After his death, he left a private collection of over 1500 volumes, mostly fiction in its original language, but also works by theologians, philosophers, and historians.

During his stay in France, Nobel most admired Victor Hugo, the idealist, who felt a strong compassion for social outcasts, best reflected in his major work, “Les Misérables”. As the two geniuses lived close to each other, near the Bois-de-Boulogne, Alfred Nobel was sometimes invited to the aged Victor Hugo’s home.

Likewise, Nobel was in many aspects a man of writing: He was continuously busy writing letters, noting down concepts and ideas for inventions, philosophizing over the origin of the cosmos, or debating about war and peace. At his death, he left a tremendous collection of letters, which comprised business correspondence, letters to family and relatives, as well as notes to close friends. At times, he wrote up to 20 letters a day, cleverly adapting language, style, and wording for their respective recipients.

Nobel was fascinated by language throughout his entire life, mastering speech and writing in five languages - Swedish, Russian, French, German, and English.