The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

June 9, 2013

June 9, 1843

Bertha von Suttner (June 9, 1843 to June 21, 1914) won the Nobel Prize for peace in 1905. She organized and attended peace conferences her adult life, and even wrote a novel, Lay Down Your Arms,(1889) to express her convictions. Her life is more interesting than her ideas, and fortunately we have her autobiography, Memoirs of Bertha von Suttner: the records of an eventful life (1910 is the date of their English publication).

Bertha von Suttner was of "gentle birth" as it was phrased in her era, but her father was impoverished. In 1873 she took a position as governess for the wealthy von Suttners. When the son fell in love with her, the von Suttners refused permission for the marriage. Bertha then went to Paris (from Prague) having answered an ad Alfred Nobel posted for a housekeeper/secretary. She was with Nobel only briefly, but the books say she influenced his ideas, and they corresponded the rest of his life. After a few weeks in Paris Bertha returned to Austria (Prague was part of the Austrian empire) and secretly married Arthur Gundaccar Freiherr von Suttner. She in time was officially, then, a baroness and a countess.

Bertha was interesting; her whole family was interesting. She has this to say about her brother, Arthur Franz Graf Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau
whom she never saw after 1872:

My brother was still alive, to be sure, but, except for an exchange of letters once in a great while, we were quite out of touch with each other. So in these recollections I have had nothing to say of him. He was an odd fish, living perfectly aloof from mankind and isolated in a small Dalmatian city, occupying himself with floriculture and chess. His company consisted of a number of cats. Solitary walks along the seashore, the reading of botanical and mineralogical works, were his only passions. ....[H]is death....occurred a few years ago...

Bertha herself, Nobel laureate of peace, died two months before the outbreak of World War I.

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