Ada Lovelace and Lord Byron (who has the kavorka)

(c) Newstead Abbey; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

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Lord Byron’s notorious facility for pulling both female and male love interests is one of those bits of historical trivia that I find a little perplexing – I mean, I’ve seen his portrait, I don’t know what all the fuss was about, maybe back in that century the dating pool was very slim pickings?

But I shouldn’t go underestimating the allure a talented wordsmith can have – the Romantic poet truly had the Kavorka, with his clubfoot only adding to his irresistible  aura.

By his own account, Byron slept with over 200 women in the later years of his life, while living in exile in Venice (‘by his own account’ though does immediately sound a wee bit suspect, I mean by my own account this is still the year I’m definitely getting into shape).

Byron’s half-sister, Augusta, wasn’t even immune to his charm, with the two having an affair – and subsequently a child – during his very short-lived marriage to Annabella Milbanke (this was gross and scandalous even by early 19th century standards).

Byron’s life of just 36 years is defined not only by the poetry he left behind, but equally by the enthralling, usually sordid, details of his personal life. For me though, the most fascinating thing about Lord Byron’s existence is the life of daughter he never knew, Ada Lovelace – a pioneer in mathematics and computer programming in a time when women could not attend university in Britain.

Weeks following the birth of Augusta Ada Byron on December 10 1815 (more commonly known by her middle name for obvious reasons. Love how she has the same name as the sister, way to rub it in Byron!!), Annabella left with her daughter to her parents house after Lord Byron’s famous threat to his wife that he would ‘do everything wicked’. The poet would never see either of them again, with the separation sparking such intense public scandal that Byron left Britain in disgrace in 1816.

Frightened that artistic pursuits would have a destructive influence on Ada, and that she would want to follow a destructive path like her famous father, Annabella encouraged Ada into mathematics by hiring several tutors. And at 17 Ada would meet mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage, through who she began being tutored by University of London professor, Augustus de Morgan.

Babbage became Ada’s mentor, and when asked to translate an article on Babbage’s design for the ‘analytical engine’, her extensive notes she added to the original document are now considered the first examples of a working software program ever published. What’s makes this even more incredible is that the machinery that could run the code wouldn’t be invented for another century.

What I love about Ada’s story is that she is remembered in her own right, in a field that is completely distinct from the field Lord Byron has reverence in. She is buried next to him in the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Nottingham, yet in life they were strangers and had minds that – from an outside perspective – seem like they shared little in common.

[images via wikipedia and pcmag]

 

 

Poetry quotes that perfectly sum up getting your heart shat on

So sometimes in life you’ll find yourself falling for a person and basically they’re a complete fool who has shit taste and they break your heart. But look don’t worry, there are loads of poets who know and share your pain. Here are some quotes to read in the grieving period, while you’re crying into a KFC bargain bucket and putting tinder back on your phone.

His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung
..and drown the wakeful anguish of the soul
Ode on Melancholy, John Keats

I keep on dying,
Because I love to live
The Lesson, Maya Angelou

I won’t telephone him. I’ll never telephone him again as long as I live. He’ll rot in hell, before I’ll call him up. You don’t have to give me strength, God; I have it myself. If he wanted me, he could get me. He knows where I am. He knows I’m waiting here. He’s so sure of me, so sure. I wonder why they hate you, as soon as they are sure of you – A Telephone Call, Dorothy Parker

And why with you, my love, my lord,
Am I spectacularly bored,
Yet do you up and leave me – then
I scream to have you back again?
On Being a Woman, Dorothy Parker

And all I loved, I loved alone.
Alone, Edgar Allan Poe

I thought I was not alone, walking here by the shore,
But the one I thought was with me, as now I walk by the shore,
As I lean and look through the glimmering light—that one has utterly disappeared,
And those appear that perplex me.
I Thought I Was Not Alone, Walt Whitman

With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
The More Loving One, W.H Auden

And pleasures flow so thick and fast
Upon his heart, that he at last
Must needs express his love’s excess
With words of unmeant bitterness
Chistabel, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Since my young days of passion – joy, or pain
Perchance my heart and harp have lost a string
– IV Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Lord Byron

When we two parted
In silence and tears
Half broken-hearted
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss:
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this
– I When We Two Parted, Lord Byron

In secret we met –
In silence I grieve
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee! –
With silence and tears
– IV When We Two Parted, Lord Byron

So we’ll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Thought my heart is still as loving,
And the moon is still as bright,
– I So We’ll Go No More A Roving, Lord Byron

When hearts have once mingled
Love first leaves the well-built nest;
The weak one is singled
To endure what it once possessed
Lines: ‘When the lamp is shattered’, Percy Shelley

She weeps alone for pleasures not to be;
Sorely she wept until the night came on,
And then, instead of love, O Misery
– XXX Isabella, Keats

Shakespeare Time 

….since why I love I can allege no cause – Sonnet XLIX

At yet, love knows, it is a greater grief
To bear love’s wrong than hate’s known injury – sonnet XL

Thou art the grave where buried love doth live,
Hung with the trophies of my lovers gone,
Who all their parts of me to thee did give:
That due of many now is thine alone:
Their images I loved I view in thee
And thou, all they, hast all the all of me – XXXI

Thy proud heart’s slave
And vassal wretch to be:
Only my plague thus far I count my gain
That she makes me sin awards me pain. – CXLI

When to the sessions of sweet silence thought
I summon up remembrance of things past
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought
And with old woes new wail my dear times – XXX