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and Whig MP. Annabella met Byron at a waltzing party in 1810 and was as infatuated

            with him as the rest of the female population. But their relationship was bumpy from
            the start. To Byron, she was different from the other women in his life: attractive and
            sophisticated – and an heiress – but also aloof and disapproving, modest and prim.
            He confided to a friend that he admired, but didn’t love her. But he proposed
            anyway, in 1812. To his surprise, she declined, injuring his vanity and confusing him.
            He proposed again, in 1814, expecting another no, but he got a yes.

            At the private ceremony in 1815, which Byron had tried to postpone, he was sulky

            and quarrelsome. He and Annabella had moments of closeness, but he was also
            abusive. He was also developing a more-than-brotherly affection with his half-sister
            Augusta and he let Annabella know she was a poor second. Gossip began. Annabella
            became pregnant with Ada; he told her he hoped she’d die in childbirth. His moods
            convinced her he was going mad. When she gave birth to Augusta Ada (soon just
            Ada), Byron bitterly and violently rejected them both. He ordered her to leave,
            threatening to bring an actress into their home.


            So Annabella left, taking Ada, and returned to her family in Leicestershire. Byron
            didn’t say goodbye and they never saw each other again. After sending him a few
            letters, she had no further contact and pursued a legal separation. He wrote to say,
            “yet I still cling to the wreck of my hopes, before they sink for ever. Were you,
            then, never happy with me.” He signed the deed of separation before leaving England
            for ever as the scandal of his incestuous relationship broke. Debt forced him to sell
            Newstead Abbey. He made half-hearted efforts to remain informed about Ada’s life,

            but there was no further contact between them.

            Ada Lovelace (nee Byron) 1815-1852
            The second reason why Ada turned out so different to her Romantic hero father was
            that Lady Byron saw to it that her imagination was suppressed. She wanted Ava to be
            well educated so that she could marry well and provided her with the best available

            tutors. But she insisted that they focused on maths and science, not literature, and
            certainly not poetry. In this strange way, the iconic Romantic’s daughter became a
            brilliant mathematician (hence her mother taking her to see Babbage). Ava
            nonetheless developed an independent mind. One of her teenage projects was
            powered flight; she envisaged scaled-up bird wings and a steam engine. Clearly,
            they’d failed to entirely suppress her imagination.

            Ada Lovelace nee Byron (1815-1852)
            A landmark in Ada’s education was when, through her mother’s family, she came into

            contact with Margaret Somerville (nee Fairfax), a leading mathematician, scientist
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