Young Ada Byron and her Mother

If I am convinced of Lord Byron‘s sincere affection for his daughter Ada, (see here) I am not so convinced as regards Lady Byron’s.
Anne Isabella Milbanke, who was a cold and prudish woman with strict morals, was a mathematician, well aware of her strong intellect. She had been tenderly called the “Princess of Parallelograms” by her husband, but after she refused him any contact with their daughter, she became a calculating antagonist, referred to as a “Mathematical Medea,” or, in his epic poem Don Juan, a “walking calculation.

Their separation was acrimonious and the mother was given sole custody of Ada. Byron never doubted that his wife would make an excellent and conscientious parent to their little daughter. “A girl is in all cases better with the mother” he wrote to his half-sister Augusta Leigh, “unless there is some moral objection.”
His fatherly interest in his legitimate child was also expressed in some gifts, for instance one of his talismanic rings, when he left England and further small gifts during his alpine travels. From Italy he sent her a locket, inscribed, in Italian: “Blood is thicker than water.”
Upon his departure, he instructed Augusta to keep him informed about Ada’s welfare and often begged his wife to provide him with a full report of their daughter.

Lady Byron tried to do everything possible to ensure that her child would not become a poet like her father. She believed a solid education based on logic and reason would counter dangerous poetic tendencies, therefore, since she was only four years old, she gave her tutoring in science, and mathematics, while discouraging literary study.
Anne was a cruelly controlling mother, her system of education involved long hours of study and exercises in self-control.
However, although Lady Byron devoted much energy to organise Ada’s upbringing, she herself spent very little time with her. Lord Byron must have heard about the problems for he wrote about it to Lady Byron on some occasions.

Alfred, Comte d’Orsay. (1822)

Ada did not have a close relationship with her mother, who had barely any affection for her and was frequently absent for various health cures often while visiting agreeable spas. The girl led an isolated childhood, and was primarily raised by her maternal grandmother, and her servants. Her only friend was her pet cat, Mrs. Puff

However, Lady Byron wanted to present herself as a loving mother to the rest of society, so she wrote anxious letters to her mother, Lady Milbanke, about Ada’s welfare, with a cover note saying to retain the letters in case she had to use them to show maternal concern.
In one of them she even referred to her daughter as “it”: “talk to it for your satisfaction, not my own…

A biographer stated that Ada’s greatest achievement was surviving her manipulative mother, not inventing a computing code! (see here)

26 thoughts on “Young Ada Byron and her Mother

    1. La matematica è affascinante, ma non calda come le materie umanistiche, a parer mio.
      … e quella povera bambina aveva solo la nonna, il gatto e la governante che le volevano bene. La madre sembrava non sopportarla, anche perché figlia di Byron


  1. non sapevo di tutto questo, mi hai paerto un mondo certo che la frase del biografo:”Ada’s greatest achievement was surviving her manipulative mother, not inventing a computing code!” rende esplicito tutto il rapporto tra la madre e la figlia! davvero un pezzo molto interessante! bravaaa

    Liked by 1 person

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