“After the verb ‘to love,’ ‘to help’ is the most beautiful verb in the world.”
—Bertha von Suttner “Ground Arms! The Story of a Life” (1892)
Today’s Doodle honors the Austrian author Baroness Bertha von Suttner, who became the first female Nobel Peace Prize winner on this day in 1905. A staunch advocate for disarmament and international cooperation, Von Suttner argued that peace is the pinnacle of human progress.
Born Countess Bertha Kinsky in Prague in 1843, she studied music and languages in her young years. At age 30, she moved to Vienna to work as a governess in the von Suttner family home, where she met her future husband, Baron Arthur Gundaccar von Suttner. As the family did not approve of the couple, she left for Paris to work as Alfred Nobel’s secretary, and though it was only a brief stay, she remained in contact with the philanthropist for many years.
Secretly getting married in 1876, the Baron and Baroness von Suttner read evolutionist literature together, prompting the Baroness to start writing novels, short stories, and essays focused on social grievances and pacifism. In her 1889 book Die Waffen nieder! (Lay Down Your Arms!), which is considered her most famous work, she depicts the harsh realities of war from a woman’s perspective.
Undaunted by the opposition that discredited pacifism as a woman’s issue, Baroness von Suttner continued to push for peace by founding the Austrian Peace Society and attending the 1891 Peace Congress. Her work put her at the forefront of the peace movement, and Nobel later credited her dedication as part of the reason he created the Nobel Peace Prize, which was first awarded in 1901.
Today, the Bertha von Suttner Peace Institute in The Hague continues the work she started so many years ago.
Doodler Q&A with Alyssa Winans
Today’s Doodle was created by Doodler Alyssa Winans.
Below, she shares some thoughts on the making of the Doodle:
Q: What part of Bertha von Suttner’s story do you find most inspiring personally?
A: I was most inspired by her life-long dedication to her writing, despite facing many hardships.
Q: Can you tell readers about the process of making this Doodle?
A: I began with research, trying to find as much information about Bertha and her writing as I could. Once I had an idea of some general themes, I created a set of sketches that I thought combined her portrait and writing themes. Once the art and the local team settled on a sketch they liked, I colored and finalized the art in Photoshop.
Q: Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A: Bertha’s writing dealt heavily with peace, so I relied on pre-existing symbols of peace like the dove and olive branches.
Q: Do you have any technical tips or tricks to share with young artists?
A: Don’t be afraid to start rough! My sketches always start quite messily while I’m trying to figure out the core elements. Each stage after that becomes steadily more refined. Leaving the details and fussy stuff until last will ensure you don’t get bogged down throughout the process.
Q: What do you hope people will take away from this Doodle?
A: I think Bertha’s message of peace and disarmament is still very relevant today, and I hope that people think about how that can be applied to current events.
Early concepts of the Doodle