Bertha von Suttner was the first women to be solely awarded the Nobel Prize in 1905

Bertha von Suttner
Bertha von Suttner

Bertha von Suttner was the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1905, the other one being Marie Curie who shared the award with her husband.

That made Suttner the first female to receive the award solely and at the same time the first Austrian laureate.

She was born in 1843, in Prague, part of the Austrian Empire at the time. She was raised in an aristocratic spirit but could never be accepted in the high aristocratic circles due to her “unclean” aristocratic pedigree. During her youth, she traveled, studied languages and music and for a period she was pursuing an opera career.

For most of her youth, Suttner lived off her mother’s fortune and she had great tutors and teachers. When she turned thirty, Suttner decided to start a career as a teacher to the girls in her family in Vienna where she met  Baron Arthur Gundaccar von Suttner – her future husband.

However, in 1876, she applied for a job position as secretary to Alfred Nobel. After being accepted, she left for Paris. Even though she worked at the position only briefly, she became friends with Nobel. It was speculated that she became Nobel’s love interest but she remained faithful to Arthur and went back to Vienna to marry him. But she remained friends with Nobel until his death in 1896. It is also believed that she convinced Nobel to include the peace prize among the others provided in his will.

Suttner family was against the marriage, so the couple left for Caucasus in Georgia where they stayed for nine years and gave language and music lessons. They constantly had a financial crisis and debts, but it was a productive time for Bertha who wrote “Es Löwos”, a book about the couple’s life. During this period, she also wrote four novels and her first serious book “Inventory of a Soul” where she argued her ideas about peace in society.

Leave a Comment or Reply