Born : 22 January 1788 in London
Life Story: George Gordon Byron was the 6th Baron Byron. Byron's father was Captain John
Byron, referred to as Mad Jack. His mother was Catherine Gordon. Even then, the Byron's
courted controversy for a variety of reasons, although well connected, and highly thought of
in certain circles, the family had more than its share of ups and downs. Marrying for money
and favour was a common place practice of the time and the Byrons were no different. Fame
and infamy followed the family, including of course the Wicked Lord Byron.
When Byron's great-uncle, the "Wicked Lord" died on the 21st May 1798, the 10-year-old
became the sixth Baron Byron Of Rochdale and inherited the ancestral home, Newstead
Abbey in Nottinghamshire. Byron's mother Catherine was anxious to get her son to the
ancestral home as soon as possible. However on arrival she found the house to be run down
and in a poor state of repair. She therefore took the decision to lease it out. Catherine herself
was quite a character and liked a drink and could be difficult to live with. Mother and son
shared what could be best described as an interesting relationship. During one argument,
Catherine called her son a "Lame brat", this being a reference to the fact that the young Byron
was born with a deformed right foot. Some people at the time tried to describe Catherine as
being different to the person some talked about. Whatever the character of the lady was,
people would say that she sometimes spoiled her son and tried to do her best for him.
The young Byron was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School, before moving on to the
school of Dr William Glennie which was in Dulwich in London. The young Byron is
supposed to have had suffered from temper tantrums and by all accounts could be difficult. In
1801 he was sent to Harrow School, and during this time at school, he met Mary Chaworth,
who would go on to be an important part of his life. It is said that at one point he refused to
return to Harrow, as he wanted to stay with Mary. Byron did return and stayed there until
1805. During this time one of his achievements was playing in the first ever cricket match
between Harrow and Eton at Lords. He also met and made friends with others who would be
part of his later life.
After Harrow, Byron went to Trinity College, Cambridge. Here he formed a close
relationship with John Edleston. Even at this early point in his life, he recalled in verse his
relationships with others. Some of these works dealt with difficult subjects including
homosexuality and about his love and passion for his friends. Such statements at that time
could have caused him many problems. He was to go on to study at Trinity College for three
years. His time at the college is best described as a story of horse riding, boxing, gambling
and sexual encounters as well as day to day college life. Also while at Cambridge he met
John Hobhouse who introduced him to the Cambridge Whig Club, and Francis Hodgson,
with who he corresponded with for the rest of his life.
Home to Byron in between school and college was Southwell in Nottinghamshire. It was here
that he met Elizabeth Bridget Pigot and her brother John. Elizabeth encouraged Byron's early
works, one of which was Fugitive Pieces. This was written and published when Byron was
around 17 years old and on the advice of a friend, it was recalled and burned due to some of
the verses being very suggestive, including a poem "To Mary".
As time progressed, Byron's works began to be published. English Bards and Scotch
Reviewers being one in 1809. On the advice of others this was published anonymously for
fear of causing upset, which indeed it did. Byron was even challenged to a duel. In 1812 the
first two cantos of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage was published. Although Byron didn't think
that much of this piece of work, it went on to be critically acclaimed. As Byron noted "I
awoke one morning and found myself famous." Byron then had the last two cantos
published, which again were very well received. Following on from this, The Giaour, The
Bride of Abidos, The Corsair and Lara were also published.
Byron died on 19th April 1824.
The daughter of famed poet Lord Byron, Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace—better
known as "Ada Lovelace"—was born in London on December 10, 1815. Ada showed her gift
for mathematics at an early age. She translated an article on an invention by Charles
Babbage, and added her own comments. Because she introduced many computer concepts,
Ada is considered the first computer programmer. Ada died on November 27, 1852.
Ada Lovelace, born as Augusta Ada Byron, was the only legitimate child of the famous poet
Lord George Gordon Byron. Lord Byron's marriage to Ada's mother, Lady Anne Isabella
Milbanke Byron, was not a happy one. Lady Byron separated from her husband only weeks
after their daughter was born. A few months later, Lord Byron left England, and Ada never
saw her father again. He died in Greece when Ada was 8 years old.
Ada had an unusual upbringing for an aristocratic girl in the mid-1800s. At her mother's
insistence, tutors taught her mathematics and science. Such challenging subjects were not
standard fare for girls at the time, but her mother believed that engaging in rigorous studies
would prevent Lovelace from developing her father's moody and unpredictable temperament.
Ada was also forced to lie still for extended periods of time because her mother believed it
would help her develop self-control.
From early on, Lovelace showed a talent for numbers and language. She received instruction
from William Friend, a social reformer; William King, the family's doctor; and Mary
Somerville, a Scottish astronomer and mathematician. Somerville was one of the first women
to be admitted into the Royal Astronomical Society.
Babbage and the Analytical Engine
Around the age of 17, Ada met Charles Babbage, a mathematician and inventor. The pair
became friends, and the much older Babbage served as a mentor to Ada. Through Babbage,
Ada began studying advanced mathematics with University of London professor Augustus de
Ada was fascinated by Babbage's ideas. Known as the father of the computer, he invented the
difference engine, which was meant to perform mathematical calculations. Ada got a chance
to look at the machine before it was finished, and was captivated by it. Babbage also created
plans for another device known as the analytical engine, designed to handle more complex
Ada was later asked to translate an article on Babbage's analytical engine that had been
written by Italian engineer Luigi Federico Menabrea for a Swiss journal. She not only
translated the original French text into English, but also added her own thoughts and ideas on
the machine. Her notes ended up being three times longer than the original article. Her work
was published in 1843, in an English science journal. Ada used only the initials "A.A.L.," for
Augusta Ada Lovelace, in the publication.
In her notes, Ada described how codes could be created for the device to handle letters and
symbols along with numbers. She also theorized a method for the engine to repeat a series of
instructions, a process known as looping that computer programs use today. Ada also offered
up other forward-thinking concepts in the article. For her work, Ada is often considered to be
the first computer programmer.
Ada's article attracted little attention when she was alive. In her later years, she tried to
develop mathematical schemes for winning at gambling. Unfortunately, her schemes failed
and put her in financial peril. Ada died from uterine cancer in London on November 27,
1852. She was buried next to her father, in the graveyard of the Church of St. Mary
Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottingham.
In 1835, Ada married William King, who became the Earl of Lovelace three years later. She
then took the title of Countess of Lovelace. They shared a love of horses and had three
children together. From most accounts, he supported his wife's academic endeavours. Ada
and her husband socialised with many of the interesting minds of the times, including
scientist Michael Faraday and writer Charles Dickens.
Ada's health suffered, however, after a bout of cholera in 1837. She had lingering problems
with asthma and her digestive system. Doctors gave her painkillers, such as laudanum and
opium, and her personality began to change. She reportedly experienced mood swings and
Ada Lovelace's contributions to the field of computer science were not discovered until the
1950s. Her notes were reintroduced to the world by B.V. Bowden, who republished them
in Faster Than Thought: A Symposium on Digital Computing Machines in 1953. Since then,
Ada has received many posthumous honours for her work. In 1980, the U.S. Department of
Defence named a newly developed computer language "Ada," after Lovelace.