ALFRED BERNHARD NOBEL
Swedish chemist, engineer, and industrialist who invented dynamite and other more powerful explosives and who also founded the Nobel Prize, Alfred Bernhard Nobel was the fourth son of Immanuel and Caroline Nobel. Immanuel was an inventor and engineer who had married Caroline Andrietta Ahlsell in 1827. The couple had eight children, of whom only Alfred and three brothers reached adulthood. Alfred was prone to illness as a child, but he enjoyed a close relationship with his mother and displayed a lively intellectual curiosity from an early age. He was interested in explosives, and he learned the fundamentals of engineering from his father. Immanuel, meanwhile, had failed at various business ventures until moving in 1837 to St. Petersburg in Russia, where he prospered as a manufacturer of explosive mines and machine tools.
The Nobel family left Stockholm in 1842 to join the father in St. Petersburg. Alfred's newly prosperous parents were now able to send him to private tutors, and he proved to be an eager pupil. He was a competent chemist by age 16 and was fluent in English, French, German, and Russian, as well as Swedish.
Alfred Nobel left Russia in 1850 to spend a year in Paris studying chemistry and then spent four years in the United States working under the direction of John Ericsson, the builder of the ironclad warship Monitor. Upon his return to St. Petersburg, Nobel worked in his father's factory, which made military equipment during the Crimean War. After the war ended in 1856, the company had difficulty switching to the peacetime production of steamboat machinery, and it went bankrupt in 1859.Alfred and his parents returned to Sweden, while his brothers Robert and Ludvig stayed behind in Russia to salvage what was left of the family business.