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Priyanka Mocherla Essay: Ada Lovelace: A Journey


I married Lord Byron on 2nd January 1815, after he proposed to me a second time. Had I known at the time what would become of the Byron that I knew after we married, I would have been more hesitant to accept. A year after our marriage, I had already suspected that Byron had Hydrocephalus, which greatly affected his temperament and actions towards others, but I was heavily pregnant with my daughter Ada, so I was unable to take any drastic action in fear of losing the baby. Five weeks after Ada’s birth I decided that I must leave him and take Ada away with me. I was worried that she may have inherited Byron’s behaviour and morbid moods, so I taught her all the science and mathematics I knew, making sure that she did not do any literary study, and become a poet like her father. However, it seemed that Ada encompassed many of her father’s undesirable traits even with my prevention. When I denied her of poetry, she asked for poetical science. Her knowledge of mathematics was adorned with metaphors of not a scientific nature. It seemed that no matter what I did to stop her, Ada was certainly her fathers’ daughter. When she chose geography over arithmetic, I insisted that she focus more on mathematics, much to the displeasure of those around me. They felt as though I was pushing her too hard, but I ignored them and continued to do so.

Ada was often ill, from her childhood. When she was seven or eight she would get headaches that obscured her vision and put me in a state of incredible panic. A few years later, as to make me feel even more stressed, she became paralysed after becoming ill with the measles, and was forced to stay in her bed for almost a year. However, she was very strong willed and by the time she was 16, she was able to walk around, albeit with crutches.

People may have called me ruthless, forcing an ill person to continue to study, but I felt as though by doing this, Ada would be able to feel as if she wasn’t wasting her life away. Also in the process, I was able to make sure that she did not end up like her father, which was almost a life’s mission of mine. This is why I pressed on with mathematics and science and tried to make her leave behind literature and the arts.

Ada had displayed quite an obvious reluctance to continue with arithmetic, nevertheless I made her work long and hard lessons with her tutors, and if ever I was informed that she was not trying her best in lessons, I would not hesitate to punish her and make her write an apology. I remember how sweet she looked as she tried to glare at me whilst writing a note that said: ‘I, Ada, have not done the Notes very well, but I’ll try to do it better tomorrow.’ Even then, I still felt like what I was doing was the best for Ada.

At the age of 17, Ada was less reluctant in pursuing the scientific side of things, much to my liking, and her talent for mathematics was starting to shine through. One of her tutors, Augustus De Morgan, suggested that she become “an original mathematical investigator, perhaps of first-rate eminence” if I remember correctly; both were jobs that were befitting.

She was introduced Mary Somerville during her early life; a gifted woman who was working in the field of science when women’s participation in it was discouraged.  I felt like this relationship would have a big impact on Ada’s future, and I would not be wrong to say that it did. Ms Somerville liked to throw large dinner parties, and invite a  large number of her successful friends, of whom Ada made acquaintances with and built up a large web of connections.  It was at one of Ms Somerville’s parties that Ada also came upon Charles Babbage, one of my co-workers, who at the time was writing the plans to a creation of his: the ‘Difference Machine’ and starting a new project, which Ada had picked up a great interest in. She had studied his ideas on his ‘Analytical Engine’ and avidly told me, and anyone else she could grab a hold of for that matter, every detail she knew about it.

After she got married in 1835 to William King, she had three children. Once again, she had contracted a tedious and suffering illness that came about after the birth of her second child, Annabella. A few years later, it was found out that Lord Byron had had a incestuous relationship with his half sister Augusta Leigh, and Ada wasted no time in blaming her:”I fear she is more inherently wicked than he ever was”. I took this opportunity to attack Lord Byron, more vehemently than before, probably due to the pain her had caused me during our marriage, but Ada refused to take any notice. Nothing I said could tarnish her image of him. But there was not much time to contemplate this as she was taking big steps in her career.

It was no surprise when she announced that Babbage had become her mentor as she admired him rather a lot. Babbage could not translate the foreign reports about his machine and seeing as she was so learned in French, she was asked to translate one of the reports for a scientific journal. She took this opportunity to add some of her own notes to it, as she knew a lot about Babbage’s work and the mechanisms included. The notes that were appended by her were longer than the original piece of writing itself, and I would watch her from behind, writing and writing for what felt like a year. However she still had to hide her identity, because, as I mentioned, the scientific community wasn’t as welcoming for women as it was for men. Subsequently, her work was picked up upon and published in The Ladies’ Diary and Taylor’s Scientific Memoirs, which was a remarkable achievement in my eyes.

Babbage was impressed with her intellect and writing skills, and often called her the ‘Enchantress of Numbers’ which she took to quite quickly, if I say so myself. However, when I read the final reports from Babbage himself, I could not tell how much influence Ada had on his work, as he had a tendency to not acknowledge other people in his work, be it intentional or not. With her vivid imagination, no doubt from her father’s side of the family, she would often tell me about the future, and how Babbage’s work could be the start of something entirely new. At the time, I was not too convinced about her ideas, similarly to the many people around her, when she told us that the capability of computers could go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching. Babbage’s work was revolutionary enough, and her ideas seemed a bit too ‘magical’ for our minds, but she was a big dreamer.

Sadly she had reached the pinnacle of her career, she had no where to go but down. After she began to take proper medication for her insistent illnesses, she started displaying terrible mood swings and when people suggested that they remove her from her prescribed drugs, she was determined not to. Those around her could see that her dependency on these drugs were doing the opposite of their initial task: she was looking more gaunt and sickly by the day. Her behaviour became much like her fathers, before I had decided to separate from him, and it was causing me much grief. She started doing abysmal things such as taking up gambling, and lost most of her fortune to it, but still refused to listen to anyone around her, whether it be her husband, her children, or even me, her mother. I even went as far as suspecting that she was having an affair with one of her gambling partners. I couldn’t bear to watch her turn her life to ruins, so when she developed a terrible illness that resulted in her death, I could not help but think that it was for the better.

Throughout her life she was seen as a charming girl, as people would not hesitate to tell me. The events she frequented allowed her to meet a lot of people that significantly influenced her and they took to her quite nicely. Of course there were a few exceptions, most of them friends of Lord Byron, so that was to be expected, but after getting past initial dislikes, Ada was able to befriend these people too.

What I regret the most is letting her die before me, at such as young age, even if her life had turned to ruins. All our efforts were in vain as we tried to save Ada from the growth she had developed, which seemed to be getting worse and worse every passing day. At her deathbed, although it may have seemed inhumane. I refused to give my daughter any opiates, as there was a chance that it may cloud her mind too much to undo her sins. To my displeasure, they buried her next to her late father, but it was her wish, so I could not deny her of that.  My efforts to make her different from her father succeeded, but I could never rid her of the unknown source of admiration she had for him. Finally, I believe that her work and her  imaginative outlook may have been the gateway into amazing futures to come.



2 Responses to “Priyanka Mocherla Essay: Ada Lovelace: A Journey”

  1. Pika876 says:

    Sorry I meant:
    (Ada Lovelace’s mother)


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