Alfred Nobel was a famous inventor and the man behind the iconic Nobel Prize awards. He was born in Sweden and became famous for his inventions and his work with explosives.
There is a lot more to Alfred Nobel than just explosives though, let’s take a look at 10 interesting facts about Alfred Nobel.
10 Interesting Facts about Alfred Nobel
1: Alfred Nobel was born in 1833
Alfred Nobel was born in Stockholm on 21 October 1833. His father was Immanuel Nobel, a famous engineer and inventor and his mother was Karolina Andriette. Alfred Nobel was one of the couple’s eight children. Sadly, the family had a very poor background and only four of those children, including Alfred, survived their childhood.
Alfred’s father eventually made some money and this allowed the family to prosper and for Alfred Nobel to move to St Petersburg. It was here where he received a private education and learned several languages. This would be a hugely influential time in Nobel’s life.
2: His father was also a successful inventor
Alfred Nobel’s desire for inventing may have been inherited from his father, Immanuel, who was also a successful inventor and engineer, an interesting fact about Alfred Nobel.
Immanuel Nobel’s most important invention was the rotary lathe, which was used for manufacturing plywood. He found success later in life when he moved to St Petersburg. It was in Russia where he started working on explosives and making his family a lot of money. This would be something that likely inspired his son in his later years as an inventor.
3: Alfred Nobel held 350 Patents
Alfred Nobel was a very busy man for most of his life and during his time, he registered a total of 350 different patents in various different countries. Most of Alfred Nobel’s most famous inventions were explosives and he always established over 90 different armament factories during his lifetime.
His first patent was registered in 1857 for a gas meter. He also founded a chemical and weapons company.
4: The Nobel prizes were established after his death
The greatest legacy of Alfred Nobel are the Nobel Prizes, a well-known fact about Alfred Nobel. The Nobel Prizes for physics, chemistry, medicine and literature, and peace. These prizes are handed out annually in a ceremony held in Nobel’s hometown of Stockholm. The Nobel Peace Prize is often considered the most famous of the prizes.
Alfred Nobel left 95% of his wealth in order to fund the prizes and he did so because he was fearful of how he would be remembered following his death. Nobel had spent his whole life creating explosives and weapons that could be used to kill people and he didn’t want to be remembered that way. The decision to leave so much of his money to this foundation was not well-met by everyone who had been close to him.
5: Alfred Nobel invented dynamite
Alfred Nobel’s most famous and prominent invention was that of dynamite. Nobel did a lot of work with nitroglycerin and this is how he made the majority of his wealth throughout his life. Nitroglycerin is a key component in dynamite and Nobel worked out a way to make it safer to handle in dynamite. Dynamite was patented by Nobel in 1867 and it was first made in Geesthacht, Germany.
6: Alfred Nobel was an aspiring playwright
Alfred Nobel achieved a great many things during his lifetime and one of his biggest dreams was to become a playwright or a poet. Nobel had a keen passion for literature, including both plays and poetry and regularly expressed his desire to write.
In the final years of his life, Alfred Nobel completed his first-ever play, which was titled ‘Genesis’. 100 copies of the book were printed and handed out but the play soon disappeared into obscurity. In 2005, the play was finally brought to the stage in Stockholm from one of the three copies that were remaining of it. The play was met with mixed reviews, with some claiming that it was not very good at all.
7: He has a synthetic element named after him
The Nobel Prizes are not the only thing to have been named after the famous inventor. As well as a monument in St Petersburg, where he spent most of his early years, Nobel also has a synthetic element named after him – Nobelium, an interesting fact about Alfred Nobel.
8: Alfred Nobel never married and suffered from depression
Despite his wealth and fame, Alfred Nobel was a very solitary man. He spent a lot of his life wrestling with feelings of loneliness and a lot of his work suggests that he suffered from depression at several stages of his life.
Alfred Nobel’s solitary nature meant that he never ended up getting married, though, some of his writings suggest that he did fall in love a few times during his life, though, none of these romances ever ended successfully.
9: He had a fear of being buried alive
It may seem like an irrational fear to have in the 21st century, but back in the 19th, the idea of being buried alive was a very common one. There were regular cases of being buried alive after being incorrectly pronounced as dead. This was something that both Alfred Noel and his father shared fear of. His father spent years attempting to invent a coffin that allowed the person to call for help if necessary.
To combat his fear, Alfred Nobel left a request that his veins be cut open when he was pronounced dead, just to ensure that he was actually dead before he was buried. This was stated in his will and carried out before his burial, a fun fact about Alfred Nobel.
10: Alfred Nobel died in 1896
After being forced to move to Italy in 1891 after being with charged with high treason in France, Alfred Nobel passed away from a stroke on 10 December 1896, aged 63 years old in Sanremo. Alfred Nobel’s will caused great contention among his family members as it was revealed he had left nearly all of his money to fund the Nobel prize.
Alfred Nobel’s legacy is best remembered for his work with the Nobel Prizes and he is honoured every December in Sweden whenever these awards are handed out.
I hope that this article on Alfred Nobel facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Page!