Byron, Augusta Ada, Lady Lovelace

NOBLEMAN, MATHEMATICIAN (ENGLAND)
BORN 10 Dec 1815, London: 13 Piccadilly Terrace (now: 139 Piccadilly) - DIED 27 Nov 1852, London: 6 Great Cumberland Place, Marylebone
GRAVE LOCATION Hucknall Torkard, Nottinghamshire: Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Ogle Street

Daughter of the poet Lord Byron and his wife Annabella Milbanke. Byron left Annabella a month after Ada's birth and she would never see her father again.

At seventeen Ada met Mary Somerville, one of the few succesful female mathematicians. Her mother also took an interest in maths and had even been called Princess of Parallelograms by the poet.

In 1835 she married William, 8th Lord King, who later became Earl of Lovelace. Therefore Ada was known as Ada Lovelace since 1838.

She became involved with Charles Babbage's Analytical Machine and translated and annotated Luigi Federico Menabrea's description of it ("Notions sur la machine analytique de Charles Babbage" (1842), translated as "Elements of Charles Babbage's Analytical Machine"). The annotations were more extensive than Menabrea's description and an important addition was her analysis of how the analytical machine could be programmed to calculate Bernoulli numbers. This is why she was regarded as the first computer programmer in the twentieth century.

After the birth of her third child she suffered a mental collapse and her doctors gave her a prescription for a combination of alcohol and drugs, among them laudanum. She had hallucinations and at one time thought she was communicating with God. She managed to stop using the drugs, but then started to bet on horse races. She used Babbage to bring her money to the bookmakers to hide her gambling habit. Af the time she was dying of cancer she was in debt as well as being blackmailed.

Her mother refused Babbage to see her at her deathbed. Charles Dickens - with whom she had stayed in Brighton in 1833 - did visit her and was one of the last persons (apart from her family) to see her alive. On her own request she was buried beside the father she had never known. Like Byron she had only reached the age of 36.

Family
• Father: Byron, George Noel Gordon
• Mother: Milbanke, Anna Isabella
• Daughter: Noel, Anne Isabella, 15th Baroness Wentworth
• Sister: Byron, Allegra

Related persons
• cooperated with Babbage, Charles
• has a connection with Dickens, Charles John Huffham
• has a connection with Menabrea, Luigi Federico, Marquis of Valdora

Sources
• Crawford, Anne and others, The Europa Biographical Dictionary of British Women, Europa Publications Ltd, London, 1983
Encyclopedia Britannica
• Woolley, Benjamin, The Bride of Science, Romance, Reason and Byron's Daughter, MacMillan, London, 1999

Images

The entrance to the crypt where Lord Byron was buried inside the Church of St. Mary Magdalene at Hucknall Torkard.
Picture by Androom (22 Jun 2009)

 


Byron, Augusta Mary

Published: 1 Jan 2006
Last update: 9 Jun 2014