Join FunTrivia for Free: Hourly trivia games, quizzes, community, and more!
Fun Trivia
Ask FunTrivia: Questions and Answers
Answers to 100,000 Fascinating Questions
Welcome to FunTrivia's Question & Answer forum!

Search All Questions

Please cite any factual claims with citation links or references from authoritative sources. Editors continuously recheck submissions and claims.

Archived Questions

Goto Qn #

What was the name of the reporter who wrote and the French newspaper that published the false obituary for Alfred Nobel that caused him to create the Nobel Prizes?

Question #124950. Asked by ripper148.
Last updated Feb 02 2012.
Originally posted Feb 01 2012 2:10 PM.

gtho4 star
Answer has 4 votes
Currently Best Answer
gtho4 star
23 year member
2399 replies avatar

Answer has 4 votes.

Currently voted the best answer.
12th April 1888 - the premature orbituary was published in the Paris newspaper "Ideotie Quotidienne" ("daily nonsense") under the headline "Le Marchand de la Mort est Mort" ("drummer of death is dead" and/or "the merchant of death is dead"). No luck finding the name of the journalist.


Feb 01 2012, 2:49 PM
Answer has 3 votes
17 year member
2344 replies

Answer has 3 votes.
This legendary anecdote, though oft repeated in reliable sources, is never supported by either the name of the reported or of the newspaper that supposedly printed it. At least not that I've ever found.

"We can only speculate about the reasons for Nobel's establishment of the prizes that bear his name. He was reticent about himself, and he confided in no one about his decision in the months preceding his death. The most plausible assumption is that a bizarre incident in 1888 may have triggered the train of reflection that culminated in his bequest for the Nobel Prizes. That year Alfred's brother Ludvig had died while staying in Cannes, France. The French newspapers reported Ludvig's death but confused him with Alfred, and one paper sported the headline "Le marchand de la mort est mort" ("The merchant of death is dead.")"

"In 1888 a French newspaper--thinking it was Alfred and not his brother who had passed on--ran his obituary under the cutting headline "Le marchand de la mort est mort" (the merchant of death is dead)."


Odd that some bios even quote a whole sentence, "Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday," but nobody knows who first wrote it. Of course, it would have been in French.

Feb 02 2012, 9:59 AM
Baloo55th star
Answer has 2 votes
Baloo55th star
20 year member
4545 replies avatar

Answer has 2 votes.
Found it as "Le Dr. Alfred Nobel, qui fit fortune en trouvant le moyen de tuer plus de personnes plus rapidement que jamais auparavant, est mort hier".

On the French Wikipedia link it is stated to be an erroneous 'nécrologie' ('obituary', but doesn't it sound sinister?) in a French newspaper, and it's referenced to link,9171,998209,00.html which suggests that the newspaper (unnamed) thought Alfred was dead when it was his brother that had departed.

Feb 02 2012, 12:42 PM
free email trivia FREE! Get a new mixed Fun Trivia quiz each day in your email. It's a fun way to start your day!

arrow Your Email Address:

Sign in or Create Free User ID to participate in the discussion