JRR Tolkien wrote a little series you may have heard of called Lord of the Rings. We hear it’s received a tiny bit of publicity over the years, even being called a masterpiece by some critics. Yet back when the book series debuts Tolkien was denied a Noble Prize because of “poor storytelling” and “bad writing>
Nominated in 1961 by fellow fantasy writer CS Lewis, the professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University was denied the honor because a single jury member by the name of Anders Osterling said his work “has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality”.
Years later Tolkien’s work is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of it’s genre and well…nobody knows who Anders Osterling is.
It wasn’t just Tolkien that was denied the noble prize in 1961 for stupid reasons. Robert Frost, one of the most celebrated American poets of all time was denied the prize because he was “too old” at the time of his nomination.
Lawrence Durrell, another amazing author was denied because of his unpleasant “preoccupation with erotic complications.”
Perhaps the biggest slap in the face came from the denial of acceptance for EM Forster who published his last novel A Passage to India in 1924. When examining the work of the famous author the committee said Forster was “a shadow of his former self”.
While all of those men lost out on the prize in 1961 there had to be a winner and it was Yugoslavian writer Ivo Andric, a man who wrote about the folklore of his native Bosnia.
Do you think the Noble Prize committee erred in not giving JRR Tolkien, Robert Frost, EM Forester or Lawrence Durrell the top prize?