STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's most famous living poet, Tomas Transtromer, won the Nobel prize for literature on Thursday, the first time in more than 30 years the award has gone to a native of the Nordic country.

The Swedish Academy, which awards the prize of 10 million crowns ($1.45 million), said the poet had won "because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality."

Transtromer, 80, has been an almost constant tip to win literature's most prestigious award in recent years. The prize last went to Sweden in 1974.

Peter Englund, permanent secretary at the Swedish Academy said the poet had taken the news in his stride.

"I think he was surprised, astonished," Englund told Swedish television. "He sat relaxing and listening to music. But he said it was very good."

Transtromer had a stroke in 1990.

His works are characterized by "economy, correctness and poignant metaphors," the Academy added.

The prize was the fourth of this year's Nobel prizes, following awards for medicine on Monday, physics on Tuesday and chemistry on Wednesday.

Swedes Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson shared the prize in 1974, but that created controversy because they were both members of the academy. ($1 = 6.916 Swedish Crowns)

(Reporting by Patrick Lannin and Simon Johnson; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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