This morning it was announced that the Tunisian national dialogue quartet had won this year's Nobel Peace Prize. But what's the story behind the Nobel Prize, and who is the "Merchant of Death"?

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Alfred Nobel was born in 1833 in Stockholm. He was one of eight children, but one of only three that survived childhood. He moved with his family to St Petersburg when he was nine and was tutored at home by some of the best teachers in the country. His father was an engineer who installed Russia's first central heating in their home.

First encounters

Nobel never attended university. He became friends with Ascanio Sobrero, a chemist who discovered nitro-glycerine, and subsequently one of Nobel's first scientific achievements was making the highly reactive chemical safe to use. Nobel continued to experiment for the rest of his life, taking out 350 different patents for various inventions, until he eventually devised the creation for which he is most famous: dynamite.

A premature obituary

Alfred Nobel was not a fan of warfare, calling it “the horror of horrors, the greatest of all crimes", so you can imagine his unease when one day in his laboratory in north eastern Paris he read a headline dubbing him the “Merchant of Death". The French newspaper had mistakenly identified Alfred with his brother Ludvig, who had recently died of a heart attack, and had published an obituary stating that Nobel was profiteering from the death of others.

And so it began

Deeply concerned by this, Nobel wrote up a new will. He divided his estate, worth around £155 million today, between various family members and servants before outlining a prize to encourage innovation and discovery in the fields of Science, Literature and, of course, Peace.

Visit our blog to discover more amazing stories from history, including the construction of the "Death Railway" over the River Kwai.