Ada Lovelace: Bride of Science

Seriously, this is what she called herself.

In honour of Ada Lovelace Day – awarded nowadays with being the first computer programmer, but also daughter of the famed Lord Byron – I’m posting a picture of the brainy lady herself, and also an excerpt of a letter from Ada to Michael Faraday (my hero). Faraday and Lovelace had a brief friendship, not least because she died within a very short time of their meeting, though he was far older than she.One of my favourite openers of a letter he wrote to her, on 10th June 1851, was:

One of my favourite openers of a letter he wrote to her, on 10th June 1851, was:

“You see what you do – ever as you like with me. You say write & I write – and I wish I had strength & head rest enough for a great deal more for it would give me very great pleasure to move more earnestly for those young creatures whom I rejoiced to know as your children.”

AUGUSTA ADA LOVELACE

1815 – 1852

ada_lovelace_portrait

Dear Mr Faraday,

I am exceedingly tickled with your comparison of yourself to a tortoise. It has excited all my fun (& I assure you I have no little of that in me).

I am also struck with the forcible truth of your designation of my character of mind:

“elasticity of intellect”.

It is indeed the very truth, most happily put into language.

You have excited in my mind a ridiculous, but not ungraceful, allegorical picture, viz:

that of a quiet demure plodding tortoise, with a beautiful fairy gambolling round it in a thousand radiant & varying hues; the tortoise crying out, “Fairy, fairy, I am not like you. I cannot at pleasure assume a thousand aerial shapes & expand myself over the face of the universe. Fairy, fairy, have mercy on me, & remember I am but a tortoise”.

Please go and have a look at the FindingAda blog where you can view more letters fully scanned (if you can read the swirly lettering!). Her personality leaps from the page and she must have been a whirlwind of vivacity not just for the ageing Faraday (who was, by the way, still rather attractive in his fifties) but for everyone who met her.

Ada has also been committed to comic format – along with naughty Charles Babbage – and so I can also count her as a genuine lady of literature.

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