The US is known for its Nobel Prizes for Literature, Chemistry and Physics.
But it is not the first country to award a prize to a non-professional.
The Nobel Prize for Literature was won by Russian novelist Boris Pasternak, but the US, with no Nobel Prize winner since 1950, has long been criticised for its treatment of the literature and science.
One of the most notorious examples of this was in 1953 when the US awarded a prize for “the greatest achievements in the field of literature and philosophy” to American writer and historian Joseph Heller, who was criticised by many US politicians and intellectuals for his work on the Holocaust and the Soviet Union.
“We should not let a Nobel Prize go to someone who is not deserving of it,” US president Dwight Eisenhower said at the time.
“There is a tendency to forget that this is a country of immigrants and we should not forget that,” he added.
But in recent years, the US has become increasingly open about the awarding of prizes to non-professionals, with President Donald Trump’s recent announcement of a new award to the American poet laureate Joseph Stein.
In 2017, the United States awarded the first prize in science to a Chinese-American, Chinese-Australian poet, who received the prestigious Pulitzer Prize.
The US has also honoured American mathematicians and physicists.
In the US there is a long tradition of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to people whose life has been shaped by the use of atomic energy.
“I hope that the Nobel Prize will encourage people to use science and the human sciences as tools for human good,” said American Nobel Peace Laureate Johnnie Moore, who wrote the book “The Quest for Peace”.
The Nobel Peace laureate also said he hoped the award would “change how we view the prize.”
“I think the prize is a reflection of the need to make the most of science and humanity’s contribution to world peace,” Moore said in a statement.
“It should not be a way to give away a prize.
It should be a means of making a contribution to peace.”
But US science historian and poet Richard O’Neill, who is also a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, said the prize was unlikely to be given to a person who had “made a significant contribution to science or medicine”.
“I do think that this will be a time of reflection,” he said.
“And it’s going to be a big thing.”
The Nobel Prizewinner Award in Literature, Politics and Economics, a prize awarded to the world’s best literary and political authors, was first awarded in 1932.
It was changed in 1967 to the Nobel prize for Literature and Politics.
The prize is awarded annually to the best literary, political or artistic work in a field of international or national significance.
It is the largest prize awarded by the US government.
In 2018, US President Donald Trumps decision to nominate Chinese-Canadian writer and political activist Liu Xiaobo to the Peace Prize prompted widespread protests, including by the Nobel Committee itself.
Mr Trumps first nominee was Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, who won the prize in 1987.
In 2006, the Nobel committee changed its rules to award the prize to “any work which is the most important contribution to the study of international relations”.
The new rules allow a laureate to be chosen by the committee for the purpose of making sure the winner is not a “political prisoner”.
“If there is no winner in literature, politics or economics, it’s the next best thing,” said US historian and Nobel laureate Stephen Fry, a former US president and a member for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
“If you don’t know what you are looking for, you’ll get somebody else,” Fry said.
However, the changes were welcomed by some members of the American literary community.
“The Nobel Prize has been a long time coming.
It will be exciting to see what the new rules will look like,” said Richard Ford, the president of the Society of Authors and Literary Executives.
“A prize like this is something we’ve never really been able to see, and we have never been able for some time,” he told the BBC.
“So it’s a very exciting time.
I’m looking forward to the new rule change.”
US President Trump also announced a new Nobel Peace Award on Thursday, which was awarded to Chinese-born Nobel laureate Liu Xiaolong.
“In this year’s Nobel Peace Prizes, we recognize the world-class achievement of Liu Xiaoyi, an outstanding Chinese-British writer, poet and activist who has inspired and influenced generations of Chinese-Americans,” Mr Trump said in his speech.
The laureate’s nomination comes just days after a Nobel committee meeting in Stockholm.
The committee is considering whether to award Liu a Peace Prize for his efforts in improving the lives of impoverished people in China.
A statement on the committee’s website said the committee will “review the Liu Xiaopiao nomination process