Posted 19th August 2018
Talks: Miranda Seymour
Ada Lovelace - Byron's Brilliant, Mercurial Daughter
On Wednesday 17 October, author Miranda Seymour will present a talk on Lord Byron's daughter, mathematician and writer, Ada Lovelace.
In 1815, the clever, courted and cherished Annabella Milbanke married the notorious and brilliant Lord Byron. Just one year later, she fled, taking with her their baby daughter, the future Ada Lovelace. Byron himself escaped into exile and died as a revolutionary hero in 1824, aged thirty-six. The one thing he had asked his wife to do was to make sure that their daughter never became a poet.
Ada didn't. Brought up by a mother who became one of the most progressive reformers of Victorian England, Byron's little girl was introduced to mathematics as a means of calming her wild spirits. Educated by some of the most learned minds in England, she combined that scholarly discipline with a rebellious heart and a visionary imagination.
As a child invalid, Ada dreamed of building a steam-driven flying horse. As an exuberant and boldly unconventional young woman, she amplified her explanations of Charles Babbage's unbuilt calculating engine to predict - as nobody would do for another century - the dawn today of our modern computer age.
Drawing on fascinating new material, acclaimed biographer Miranda Seymour reveals the ways in which Byron, long after his death, continued to shape the lives and reputations both of his wife and his daughter. During her life, Lady Byron was praised as a paragon of virtue; within ten years of her death, she was vilified as a disgrace to her sex. Well over a hundred years later, Annabella Milbanke is still perceived as a prudish wife and cruelly controlling mother. But her hidden devotion to Byron and her tender ambitions for his mercurial, brilliant daughter reveal a deeply complex but unsuspectedly sympathetic personality.
Miranda Seymour has written a masterful portrait of two remarkable women, revealing how two turbulent lives were often governed and always haunted by the dangerously enchanting, quicksilver spirit of that extraordinary father whom Ada never knew.
A masterful portrait…Miranda Seymour is a marvellous storyteller…it is composed to a considerable extent of scandal, gossip and bad blood, Seymour's book is hugely entertaining as well as formidably researched, and should not be missed.' John Carey, The Sunday Times
'Vastly enjoyable…it is one of the many pleasures of this book that Seymour makes the reader warm to their inconsistencies, to all the inexplicable oppositions of character and action that make them so familiar and human…Brilliant, ebullient, eccentric, vivacious, egocentric and oddly dressed, Ada had her mother's discipline and her father's volatility.' Lucy Lethbridge, Lead review, Literary Review