Alfred Nobel was both a creative genius and an idealist. The inventor of dynamite and over 300 patents left an enduring legacy to the world by establishing a fund which would award annual prizes in five specified fields: physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace. Economic science was added in the 1960s. But what does it take to win a Nobel Prize: genes or genius, education or environment?

This feature is associated with a major exhibition at the British Library, which ran from 7 December 2005 to 15 March 2006.
  • You can find out about what was in the exhibition and learn things about the Nobel Prizes you didn't know.

  • You can read about our learning programme.

  • You can read a specially-written illustrated feature about the Nobel Laureate Sir Alexander Fleming (1881-1955), discoverer of penicillin, whose archive is in the British Library.

  • You can hear Nobel Laureates talking about their work.