The Société littéraire des Goncourt (Goncourt Literary Society), usually called the académie Goncourt (Goncourt Academy), is a French literary organization based in Paris. It was founded by the French writer and publisher Edmond de Goncourt (1822-1896). He wanted to create a new way to encourage literature in France, and disagreed with the contemporary policies of the Académie française.
Wishing to honor his deceased brother Jules (1830-1870), Goncourt bequeathed his estate to establish an organization to promote literature in France. He named his friend, the writer Alphonse Daudet, along with Léon Hennique, to oversee and administer his estate. The society was to consist of ten members, of whom eight were nominated in the will. Each of the members was to receive an annuity of 6,000 francs, and a yearly prize of 5,000 francs was to be awarded to the author of some work of fiction. After some litigation, the academy was constituted in 1903. Since then, each December, a ten-member board of the Académie has awarded the Prix Goncourt for the best work of fiction of the year.
Membership is reserved to writers who have produced works in the French language, but it is not limited to citizens of France. In 1996, the Spanish novelist and scriptwriter Jorge Semprún was elected as the first foreigner to become a member of the academy.
In addition to the Prix Goncourt, which comes with a symbolic cheque of 10 euros, the Académie Goncourt awards honors for first novel and achievements in short story, poetry and biography genres.
The ten members of the academy are usually called les Dix (the Ten). They meet the first Tuesday of each month, except in summer. Since 1914, they have convened in an oval room, the salon Goncourt, on the second floor of the Restaurant Drouant, place Gaillon, in the heart of Paris. The cutlery which they use while dining there constitutes the main physical continuity of the academy. Each new member receives the fork and knife of the member whom he (or she) is replacing, and the member's name is engraved on the knife and the fork.