Ada: A Life and a Legacy

Dorothy Stein, "Ada: A Life and a Legacy"
1985 | pages: 355 | ISBN: 026219242X | DJVU | 4,3 mb

Augusta Ada Bryon, Countess of Lovelace, the only legitimate daughter of poet Lord Byron, never quite emerges alive from under the letters, memoirs and documents Stein investigates and interprets. A major portion of the book concentrates on Ada's scientific endeavorsfrom her report on Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine (considered the first computer) to her studies in mathematics, electrical current and magnetismand readers who are not scientifically inclined may find the material difficult. Pointing to the vagueness and tentativeness with which Ada questioned Babbage in her letters, Stein breaks the myth of Ada's genius. It is her questing spirit which we should admire, Stein, a psychologist, believes, and so we do, while cringing at Ada's delusionsshe saw herself as on a mission from Heaven. Ada's life was indeed Byronic, the most interesting parts still shrouded in mystery: brought up by an overbearing mother, she tried to run away with her tutor; married and had three children; studied not only mathematics but also music and wrote poetry; had an affair we know nothing about; and gambled obsessively as a gesture of the resentment she felt against both parents, or so the author argues. She suffered from several ills throughout her life, from gastritis to mania to the cancer which killed her, and she left only a small body of work behind. If anyone comes to life in these pages it is Lady Byron, who paraded her martyrdom with her poet husband and her perfection as a mother.
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