Factbox: Alfred Nobel: the man and the prizes

Sun Oct 6, 2013 9:25am EDT
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(Reuters) - Here is a look at dynamite tycoon Alfred Nobel and the annual prizes he established. The first of this year's prizes will be awarded on Monday.


- An inventor and businessman who dabbled in writing plays and poetry, Nobel never married and was constantly on the move. French writer Victor Hugo called him "Europe's richest vagabond".

- He lived largely as a recluse and was prone to depression. Nobel had ascetic habits yet could be a courteous dinner host, a good listener and a wit.

- Nobel hoped that the destructiveness of dynamite, the 1866 invention that made him rich, would help bring an end to war.

- He was friends with a well-known peace campaigner, Bertha von Suttner. Some have speculated he was stricken by conscience when he read his own obituary, published by mistake in 1888 by French newspapers who had confused him with his brother. One sported the headline: "Le marchand de la mort est mort" (the merchant of death is dead).


- Nobel ordered in his will - contested by relatives - that most of his estate of 31 million Swedish crowns be invested in safe securities and income used for prizes to people "who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind".

- He stipulated five categories for prizes: physics, chemistry, medicine or physiology, literature and peace. A sixth, the Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was established in 1968 and funded by Sweden's central bank.   Continued...