A masterful portrait of two remarkable women, revealing how two turbulent lives were always haunted by the dangerously enchanting, quicksilver spirit of that extraordinary father whom Ada never knew: Lord Byron.
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 36.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 predictas nobody would do for another centurythe dawn of the modern computer age. When Ada diedlike her father, she was only 36great things seemed still to lie ahead for her as a passionate astronomer. Even while mired in debt from gambling and crippled by cancer, she was frenetically employing Faraday’s experiments with light refraction to explore the analysis of distant stars.
Drawing on fascinating new material, 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 unexpectedly 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.
Miranda Seymour’sprevious books includeThrumpton Hall, A Memoir of Life in My Father’s House(NYTBR Editor’s Choice, winner of the 2008 PEN/Ackerley Award);Mary Shelley(Grove),Robert Graves: Life on the Edge(Holt);Ottoline Morrell: Life on a Grand Scale(FSG). She lives in England.
Table of Contents
The Noels, Milbankes, Byrons and Kings x
Part 1 Annabella
1 Anticipation (1761-92) 3
2 A Very Fine Child (1792-1810) 6
3 The Siege of Annabella (1810-12) 17
4 Entering the Lists (1812-13) 29
5 An Epistolary Courtship (1813-14) 46
6 A Sojourn in Hell (January to March 1815) 67
7 Unlucky for Some: 13 Piccadilly Terrace (1815-16) 81
Praise for Small's earlier work on Nightingale: 'Hugh Small, in a masterly piece of historical
detective work, convincingly demonstrates what all previous historians and biographers have missed . . . This is a compelling psychological portrait of a very eminent ...
A rich and multi-faceted history of heroes and villains interwoven with the profound changes in
human knowledge that took place between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.Spanning some of the most vibrant and fascinating eras in European history, Cambridge historian Derek ...
A brilliant reconstruction of the saga of power, glory, and invasion that is the one-thousand
year story of Constantinople. A truly marvelous book. Simon WinchesterGhost Empire is a rare treasurean utterly captivating blend of the historical and the contemporary, narrated ...
Amid the lush beauty of Jamaica's northern coast lies the true story of Ian Fleming's
iconic creation: James Bond.For two months every year, from 1946 to his death eighteen years later, Ian Fleming lived at Goldeneye, the house he built ...
THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERWonderful… [Flanders] shines in her readings of literary novels containing criminal
and detective elements, such as Oliver Twist, Mary Barton and Tess of the D'Urbervilles, but can be sharp and very funny about the vagaries of ...
Queen Victoria is the longest-reigning monarch in British history. In this concise biography, Lady Longford,
long recognised as an authority on the subject, gives a full account of Queen Victoria's life and provides her unique assessment of the monarch. David ...
From Peter the Great to Putin, this is the unforgettable story of St Petersburgone of
the most magical, menacing, and influential cities in the world.St. Petersburg has always felt like an impossible metropolis, risen from the freezing mists and flooded ...
During the reign of Charles II, London was a city in flux. After years of
civil war and political turmoil, England’s capital became the center for major advances in the sciences, the theatre, architecture, trade, and ship-building that paved the ...