Here are some facts about Alfred Nobel.
- Alfred Nobel was a Swedish businessman, chemist and inventor. He is known today for leaving much of his fortune to establish the annual Nobel Prize system.
- Nobel was born in Sweden in 1833. He went to school in Sweden and France and became fluent in several European languages – French, English, Russian and German, as well as Swedish.
- Alfred Nobel invented gelignite, an explosive, in 1874, and then invented dynamite two years later. His brother had died in a nitroglycerin explosion in the family’s factory a few years earlier.
- When Nobel’s brother died, several papers mistakenly reported that Albert had died. He was upset to read himself described as a merchant of death, a reference to his work with explosives.
- He went on to work in his father’s factory. The factory produced armaments for the Crimean War, and the Nobel family also became wealthy by developing oilfields in the Caspian Sea.
- During his life, Nobel opened 90 arms factories and patented 350 of his inventions and discoveries. He is credited with inventing the detonator, gas meters, and ballistite, used to propel rockets.
- Nobel led a lonely life, and had a fear of being buried alive. He wrote several novels, poetry and a play called Nemesis, which in 2005, was staged at a theatre in Stockholm, Sweden.
- Alfred Nobel died of a heart attack in Italy, in 1891. He died a rich man and in his will he set aside most of his fortune to fund the Nobel Prize system.
- A monument in St. Petersburg, Russia was dedicated in 1991 to celebrate 90 years since the first Nobel Prize was awarded. The synthetic element Nobelium was named after him in 1966.
- The Nobel Prize comprises a medal, diploma and cash sum. Over 550 prizes have been awarded, the youngest recipient being Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai in 2014, aged 17.
What next? Discover some facts about other famous inventors.