Prof Higgs, who does not own a mobile
phone, said a former neighbour had
pulled up in her car as he was returning
from lunch in Edinburgh.
He added: "She congratulated me on the
news and I said 'oh, what news?'"
The woman had been alerted by her
daughter in London that Prof Higgs had
won the award, he revealed.
He added: "I heard more about it
obviously when I got home and started
reading the messages."
The 84-year-old emeritus professor at
the University of Edinburgh was
recognised by the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences for his work on the
theory of the particle which shares his
name, the Higgs boson.
He shares this year's physics prize with
Francois Englert of Belgium, and joins the
ranks of past Nobel winners including
Marie Curie and Albert Einstein.
The existence of the so-called "God
particle", said to give matter its
substance, or mass, was proved almost
50 years later by a team from the
European nuclear research facility (Cern)
and its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in
Speaking for the first time about the
award at a media conference at the
University of Edinburgh, he said: "How
do I feel? Well, obviously I'm delighted
and rather relieved in a sense that it's all
over. It has been a long time coming."
An old friend told him he had been
nominated as far back as 1980, he said.
Prof Higgs added: "In terms of later
events, it seemed to me for many years
that the experimental verification might
not come in my lifetime.
"But since the start up of the LHC it has
been pretty clear that they would get
there, and despite some mishaps they
did get there".
Stressing the involvement of other
theorists and Cern, he added: "I think
clearly they should, but it is going to be
even more difficult for the Nobel
Committee to allocate the credit when it
comes to an organisation like Cern.
"I should remind you that although only
two of us have shared this prize, Francois
Englert of Brussels and myself, that the
work in 1964 involved three groups of
people, (including) two in Brussels.
"Unfortunately Robert Brout died a few
years ago so is no longer able to be
awarded the prize, but he would
certainly have been one of the winners if
he had still been alive.
"But there were three others who also
contributed and it is already difficult to
allocate the credit amongst the theorists.
"Although a lot of people seem to think I
did all this single-handed, it was actually
part of a theoretical programme which
had been started in 1960."
Prof Higgs was born in Newcastle, but
developed his theory while working at
the University of Edinburgh.
The landmark research that defined what
was to become known as the Higgs
boson was published in 1964.
Discovering the particle became one of
the most sought-after goals in science,
and the team of scientists behind the
$10bn LHC at Cern made proving its
existence a key priority.
In July of last year, physicists at Cern
confirmed the discovery of a particle
consistent with the Higgs boson.
Prof Higgs, who had often been
uncomfortable with the attention his
theory brought, was in Geneva to hear
the news, and wiped a tear from his eye
as the announcement was made.
Reacting to the discovery at the time, he
told reporters: "It's very nice to be right