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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is a good tale, well told.
The title suggests that the emphasis of this book is science and the emerging role of woman in modern society and in science in particular. However it is more a study of changing Victorian values and ranges freely over the many passions into which men and women of the period could devote their energy - always provided that they had the financial means to support...
Published on 30 Aug. 2001

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3.0 out of 5 stars A flawed work on a complex character...
This book, a biography of Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), starts with a detailed discussion of aspects of the life of Byron - the father that Ada never met. The book also includes interesting details about the world of Victorian science and some of its key players - including, of course, Charles Babbage.

But the book is not particularly well written and the...
Published 14 months ago by David Sentance


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is a good tale, well told., 30 Aug. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason and Byron's Daughter (Paperback)
The title suggests that the emphasis of this book is science and the emerging role of woman in modern society and in science in particular. However it is more a study of changing Victorian values and ranges freely over the many passions into which men and women of the period could devote their energy - always provided that they had the financial means to support them.
Engineering and science are powerful passions but struggle to emerge from the much more powerful passion of sex. Benjamin Woolley's book is a sexual romp through the first half of the 19th century. It covers the sexual peccadilloes of Lord Byron, his sister Augusta, his wife Annabella and the attempts at suppressing the latent sexuality of Ada Byron. Sexual exploits of other members of the landed gentry are included to add spice where necessary.
The main science to emerge is ADA's 1843 paper about Babbage's Analytical Engine. It is this event, possibly the first example of a computer program, which gives the name ADA to a programming language used by the American military. Mary Somerville, who translated Laplace's Mecanique Celeste, was a good friend of Ada's and introduced her to Babbage
Other figures of science are woven into the tale: Andrew Grosse, whose experiments with electricity may have been the model for Mary Shelley's Doctor Frankenstein; "Faraday was a fan of Ada's and asked Babbage for a portrait of her", Wheatstone suggested to Babbage that Ada was the person to write the English translation of Luigi Menabrea memoir on Babbage's Analytical Engine, and it was Babbage himself who suggested that Ada should add some notes of her own to the translation. Charles Lyell was later called in to arbitrate over whether a note added by Babbage should be identified as such in the published notes.
It is a good tale, well told, although the amount devoted to Ada's parents, whilst necessary background, seems unnecessarily long. The book is 416 pages and has a good index of 14 pages, with 22 pages of notes and selected bibliography.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and intricate, 18 Mar. 2010
By 
Naomi Saunders (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason and Byron's Daughter (Paperback)
There are so many interesting strands to this book that it feels almost unfair to single out one or two features.

The first part of the book concentrates on Ada's appalling parents, whose disastrous and controversial marriage cast a long shadow over Ada's life. Although some of the other reviewers have said that there is too much material about Ada's parents and her early life, I think it's almost impossible to make sense of Ada's personality without covering this and I found it one of the most interesting parts of the book.

Other accounts of Lovelace seem to vary between belittling her role and exaggerating it out of all proportion. Ada's role is important but it's pretty stupid to call her the first computer programmer or write her off as no more than a financial backer. Woolley avoids both extremes and is more even handed and measured in his approach .
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3.0 out of 5 stars A flawed work on a complex character..., 6 Jan. 2014
This review is from: The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason and Byron's Daughter (Paperback)
This book, a biography of Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), starts with a detailed discussion of aspects of the life of Byron - the father that Ada never met. The book also includes interesting details about the world of Victorian science and some of its key players - including, of course, Charles Babbage.

But the book is not particularly well written and the (sometimes strong) opinions of the author are not always fully justified. The appendix of "Notes and Further Reading" is very weak: far from all references in the text to articles, books or whatever - and much less to cited facts - are listed in the Notes; those references that are given do not include page numbers or publisher details.

Ultimately, the book was unsatisfying: I learned a lot that I did not know before, but far too much was left unsaid and unresolved. An opportunity lost to draw a really convincing picture of a complex character!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good starting-point to learn about Lady Ada, 25 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason and Byron's Daughter (Paperback)
This biography is a good place to start when learning about Lady Ada Lovelace and her milieu, but has a number of flaws. The largest of these is that it seems to spend more of its time on the people that Lady Ada knew, or the actions of her mother, rather than on her own life. These diversions are interesting, and generally well-written, but they do leave a feeling that the writer was lacking in focus. Nevertheless, the writing is generally good (although there were a number of proof-reading lapses in the edition that I own) and entertaining, and sufficient to spur the reader on to discover more about this intriguing woman.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good tale, well told, but too much about Ada's parents., 6 Sept. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason and Byron's Daughter (Paperback)
The title suggests that the emphasis of this book is science and the emerging role of woman in modern society and in science in particular. However it is more a study of changing Victorian values and ranges freely over the many passions into which men and women of the period could devote their energy - always provided that they had the financial means to support them.
Engineering and science are powerful passions but struggle to emerge from the much more powerful passion of sex. Benjamin Woolley's book is a sexual romp through the first half of the 19th century. It covers the sexual peccadilloes of Lord Byron, his sister Augusta, his wife Annabella and the attempts at suppressing the latent sexuality of Ada Byron. Sexual exploits of other members of the landed gentry are included to add spice where necessary.
The main science to emerge is ADA's 1843 paper about Babbage's Analytical Engine. It is this event, possibly the first example of a computer program, which gives the name ADA to a programming language used by the American military. Mary Somerville, who translated Laplace's Mecanique Celeste, was a good friend of Ada's and introduced her to Babbage
Other figures of science are woven into the tale: Andrew Grosse, whose experiments with electricity may have been the model for Mary Shelley's Doctor Frankenstein; "Faraday was a fan of Ada's and asked Babbage for a portrait of her", Wheatstone suggested to Babbage that Ada was the person to write the English translation of Luigi Menabrea memoir on Babbage's Analytical Engine, and it was Babbage himself who suggested that Ada should add some notes of her own to the translation. Charles Lyell was later called in to arbitrate over whether a note added by Babbage should be identified as such in the published notes.
It is a good tale, well told, although the amount devoted to Ada's parents, whilst necessary background, seems unnecessarily long. The book is 416 pages and has a good index of 14 pages, with 22 pages of notes and selected bibliography.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ada and those who influenced her - an extraordinary life, 18 Mar. 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason and Byron's Daughter (Paperback)
I must say that I disagree with the above criticism of the author's emphasis on Ada's parents. To truly understand Ada Lovelace it is very important to know her family background and this is why a large part of the book focuses on this history. To gloss over these influences would make it very difficult to understand how such a remarkable personality emerged.
I read and re-read this book as part of background research for a public lecture on the history of women in science and found it to be very useful. My copy is full of marginal notes now and I would not be without it. I fully recommend the book. Another book which discusses Ada and the Analytical Engine is 'Turing and the Universal Machine' by Jon Agar.
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The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason and Byron's Daughter
The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason and Byron's Daughter by Benjamin Woolley (Paperback - 6 Oct. 2000)
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