Nobel's Personal Life

Updated July 24, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

The Question:

Was Alfred Nobel married and did he have children?

The Answer:

No and no.

Swedish-born chemist and inventor Alfred Bernhard Nobel was what we call nowadays "a workaholic," which left little time for a personal life. He spent a good portion of his life traveling and working. By the time he died in 1896 Nobel had learned several languages and had 355 patents.

According to the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, the closest Nobel ever came to having a wife was when he was 43 years old. He ran the following ad in the newspaper: "Wealthy highly-educated elderly gentleman seeks lady of mature age, versed in languages, as secretary and supervisor of household."

The most qualified candidate was an Austrian woman named Countess Bertha Kinsky. She worked for Nobel for two years beginning in 1876 before returning to Austria to marry Count Arthur von Suttner. Despite this, Nobel and Bertha von Suttner remained good friends and corresponded regularly.

As time went on von Suttner became increasingly critical of the arms race and in 1899 published what would become a classic book in the peace movement, Die Waffen nieder (Lay Down Your Arms).

Unquestionably this relationship influenced Nobel when he wrote his final will which established annual awards, called Nobel Prizes, for work in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, and literature, and toward the promotion of international peace.

Bertha von Suttner was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1905.

-The Editors

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