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Sully Prudhomme
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    (March 16, 1839-September 6, 1907)
    Born in Paris, France
    Birth name was Rene Francois Armand Prudhomme
    Poetry collections include 'Stanzas and Poems' (1865), 'Solitude' (1869), 'Justice' (1878) and 'Happiness' (1888)
    First recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1901)
    He originally planned to become an engineer, but eye troubles interrupted his studies.
    As the result of an unhappy love affair, he was a lifelong bachelor.
    His Nobel Prize was controversial, with the general consensus being that Leo Tolstoy should have been the first winner.
    A later-day Nobel judge admitted, 'Prudhomme got the first Nobel Prize because of the conservative makeup of the Academy at that time, because of Swedish nationalism, and because politics made the committeemen purposely avoid Tolstoy.'
    He joined the militia defending Paris during the Franco-Prussian War.
    He was an early supporter of Alfred Dreyfus.
    He was influenced by the Roman poet-philosopher Lucretius.
    He donated his Nobel Prize money to a French writers association to help aspiring poets publish their first books.

Credit: C. Fishel

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