The task of selecting the recepient of the Prize was entrusted to the Swedish Academy by Nobel in his will. The first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901.
Those entitled to nominate candidates for the Prize are the members of the Academy, members of academies and societies similar to it in membership and aims, professors of literature and language, former Nobel laureates in literature, and the presidents of writers’ organisations which are representative of their country’s literary production.
Proposals in writing for the year’s laureate must reach the Nobel Committee by January 31st. A proposal should, but need not, be accompanied by supporting reasons. It is not possible to propose oneself as a candidate, i.e. the Nobel Prize cannot be applied for. There are usually about 350 proposals each year.
During the spring the proposals are examined by the Nobel Committee and in April it presents for the Academy’s approval a preliminary list of candidates, containing some 20 names. Before the Academy’s summer recess the list has usually been further reduced to about five names.
In October the Academy makes its choice. For the election to be valid, a candidate must gain more than half of the votes cast.
The honoured author normally receives the prize (10 million SEK in 2020) from the hands of his Majesty the King in Stockholm Concert Hall on December 10th – Nobel Day. However, this traditional prize award ceremony is cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.