Born in Prague of the then-Kingdom of Bohemia on June 9, 1843, Bertha was the daughter of Austrian Lieutenant General Franz de Paula Josef Graf Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tetta, who was recently deceased at the age of 75, and his 25-year-old wife Sophie Wilhelmine Korner.
With her father coming from the noble Czech House of Kinsky and her mother from a lower born status, Bertha found herself excluded from high society in Austria due to her mother’s descent and her father had no grand estates or financial wealth for her to inherity.
Thanks to her cousin Elvira, however, Bertha was introduced to intellectualism and studied literature and philosophy as a child.
In her teens she could play the piano and sing well, along with being able to speak English, Italian, and French.
Bertha moved to Vienna, Austria, at the age of 30 following heavy gambling losses sustained by her aunt and mother.
In Vienna, Bertha met her future husband Baron Arthur Gundaccar von Suttner, but the Suttner family did not approve of the match, prompting Bertha to leave for Paris and get a job working as the secretary for Alfred Nobel.
Despite only spending a limited time in Paris with Nobel, the pair remained in close contact and it is believed that she suggested including a peace prize in his will.
Bertha secretly married Suttner in 1876 and became inspired to write novels, short stories, and essays following her study of evolutionist literature with her husband.
Despite completely being at odds with some of the books she wrote for commercial interest, Bertha made sure to get her values of peace and tolerance across through her more romantic heroes.
With aid from Nobel and other aristocratic connections, Bertha made sure her work found the forum it needed.
Die Waffen nieder! (Lay Down Your Arms) was the most notable piece of work that Bertha was responsible for and was an important novel for portraying the harsh reality of war alongside a feminist portrayal of a female protagonist who clashes with her male authority figures to promote her own ideals of pacifism.
In real life, Bertha also promoted pacifism by creating the Austrian Peace Society to promote peace in a world growing more and more consumed by war.
Upon Arthur’s death in 1902, Bertha moved back to Vienna and then travelled the United States of America in 1904.
She was the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and won it in 1905, along with being the second female Nobel laureate after Marie Curie.
In the last years of her life, Bertha campaigned against international armmament.
As she suffered from cancer in 1914, she intended to attend a Peace Conference that September, but died on June 21, 1914, seven days before the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand – the spark that started World War One.
A feminist and pacifist to the last, Suttner’s mark on the world is not forgotten.
On the anniversary of her December 10 Nobe prize win, Google has honoured her with a Google Doodle.