Née Kinsky von Chinic und Tettau, she was an aristocrat and the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She became a peace activist in the later stages of her life. She accepted militaristic views, which were typical of the society she belonged to, for the first half of her life and vigorously opposed them for the last half.
At the age of 30, she became a teacher in the Suttner household. In 1876, she went to Paris. She was supposed to become Alfred Nobel’s secretary but after one week she went back home to marry Baron Arthur Gundaccar von Suttner. The couple went to the Caucasus. For nine years, they earned a living by giving lessons in languages and music as well as, in part, by writing. It was in the Caucasus where she wrote her first serious book, “Inventarium einer Seele” (“Inventory of a Soul”), in which she presented her thoughts on what she and her husband had been reading together, especially on evolutionist authors such as Darwin and Spencer. In this book, she also described the concept of a society which would achieve progress in a peaceful manner.
After she returned to Austria and learned about the International Arbitration and Peace Association in London and about similar organisations, she devoted herself to working in support of arbitration. In her second serious book published in 1889, “Das Maschinenzeitalter” (“The Machine Age”), she criticised many aspects of the times and predicted the results of exaggerated nationalism and armaments. From that time onwards, she devoted most of her time and energy to working in the peace movement. She corresponded with Alfred Nobel on this issue. She often travelled and lectured. Her writings exclusively concerned issues relating to her life mission.