As an inventor and man of business, Alfred Nobel was both determined and confident. On the personal level however, he was modest, almost shy. He has been described as a lonely and restless brooder who was often ill, who never wanted or had the opportunity to found a family of his own.
Alfred could be tough and cynical in his business dealings, and was in his own words at the same time both a misanthrope and a "superidealist".
He loved literature, had written poems and a play in his earlier years, and built up a large book collection. Here lay the seeds of his decision to set up a literature prize to be awarded to the author of the best work "of an idealistic tendency".
Alfred Nobel was very interested in cultural and peace-related issues, and the prizes he established reflect this: ."...to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind."
On November 27, 1895, in Paris, Alfred Bernhard Nobel signed his will. After his death in December 1896, many people tensely awaited the publication of the contents of the will, since it was widely known that Nobel had left one of the world's largest private fortunes. To the great disappointment of some of his relatives and friends, he declared
Why did Alfred Nobel — a scientist and the inventor of dynamite — create a prize for peace? Rumour has it that he felt guilty about his invention being used in weapons production. But the truth lies elsewhere and is named Bertha von Suttner.
Bertha von Suttner responded to a newspaper advertisement from “a very wealthy, cultured, elderly gentleman, living in Paris, who desires to find a lady also of mature years, familiar with languages, as secretary and manger of his household.” This “elderly gentleman” was Alfred Nobel.