Nobel Prize in Literature postponed amid 'crisis' over sexual misconduct allegations

The Swedish Academy says it needs to "commit time to recover public confidence"

Nobel Prize in Literature postponed amid 'crisis' over sexual misconduct allegations

The old Stock Exchange Building, home of the Swedish Academy in Stockholm. Picture by: Fredrik Sandberg/AP/Press Association Images

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been postponed, as the organisation that judges the award continues to face a crisis over its handling of sexual misconduct allegations.

The Swedish Academy, which was founded in 1786, has awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901.

Recent months, however, have seen the organisation face scrutiny over its handling of sexual misconduct allegations against the husband of one of its members.

The 18 members of the Academy are appointed for life, but several - including its permanent secretary Sara Danius - have resigned in recent weeks.

The Academy has previously acknowledged being "in a state of crisis" due to the disagreements between members over the situation.

It has now announced the decision to delay this year's prize, with the 2018 winner to instead be announced next year alongside the 2019 laureate.

It marks the first time since 1949 that the prize announcement has been delayed.

"Crisis of confidence"

The Swedish Academy says it is "necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence" in the institution.

Anders Olsson, the organisation's interim permanent secretary, explained: "The active members of the Swedish Academy are of course fully aware that the present crisis of confidence places high demands on a long-term and robust work for change."

No other categories of Nobel Prizes will be impacted by the postponement.

In a statement, Carl-Henrik Heldin, Chairman of the Board of the Nobel Foundation, said the organisation supported the Swedish Academy's decision.

He wrote: "In principle, the Nobel Prize shall be awarded every year, but decisions on Nobel Prizes have been postponed on a number of occasions during the history of the prizes.

"One of the circumstances that may justify an exception is when a situation in a prize-awarding institution arises that is so serious that a prize decision will not be perceived as credible."

He added: "The crisis in the Swedish Academy has adversely affected the Nobel Prize. Their decision underscores the seriousness of the situation and will help safeguard the long-term reputation of the Nobel Prize."

The Nobel Prize in Literature is widely considered the world's most prestigious literary award. 

Recent winners include Kazuo Ishiguro and Bob Dylan.