In Byron’s Wake: The Turbulent Lives of Lord Byron’s Wife and Daughter: Annabella Milbanke and Ada Lovelace

Miranda Seymour. Pegasus, $29.95 (544p) ISBN 978-1-68177-872-3
In this splendid dual biography of Lord Byron’s wife and daughter, Seymour (Mary Shelley) brings these two brilliant, complex women to vivid life. Both women were cherished only children, endowed with strong wills and intellects. Lady Byron, née Annabella Milbanke, left the poet after only a year of marriage, subsequently building a reputation as a philanthropist and social reformer. Her daughter, Ada, inherited the wild, impetuous part of her father’s nature, and was plagued by ill health up to her early death at 36 (the same age as Byron at his death). Before this, Ada showed a skill for mathematics and a genius for theorizing, producing a visionary set of notes on the possibilities of inventor Charles Babbage’s “Analytical Engine” that presaged the rise of modern computers. Dramatically hovering over both women’s lives is the long shadow cast by Byron’s scandal-ridden life, in particular his incestuous relationship with his half-sister, Augusta Leigh, and the existence of an alleged daughter; Lady Byron’s supposed knowledge of this affair during her marriage provided the peg on which critics debased her reputation after her death. While remaining historically rigorous, Seymour’s narrative reads like a superb, page-turning novel. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2018
Release date: 11/06/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 568 pages - 978-1-64313-354-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-7135-2669-8
Hardcover - 978-1-4711-3857-7
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