On October 16, the Fordham Romanticism Group and the Byron Society of America co-sponsored a talk by Julia Markus, author of Lady Byron and her Daughters (Norton, 2015). Markus, a writer of three novels and four book-length biographies, detailed Ada Lovelace’s relationship with her parents, the intelligent and complex Lady Byron and the often indifferent and unavailable Lord Byron.
Markus examined Lovelace’s complex feelings towards her absent father, who strategically wrote with public affection in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage to the daughter he initially rejected and subsequently abandoned. Additionally, Markus highlighted the tumultuous relationship between Lady Byron and Ada, which was marked by tensions until, towards the end of Lovelace’s life, they reconciled.
Speaking on the 200th anniversary of not only the birth of Ada Lovelace but also, notoriously, the end of the Lady and Lord Byron’s dysfunctional marriage, Markus also examined Lady Byron’s heated and turbulent relationship with her husband. Challenging the narrative that deems Lady Byron either angelic or cold and uncaring, Markus presented a distinctly human portrait of Lady Byron, her strengths and faults emphasized equally.
In her illuminating description of Lovelace, Markus emphasized a wide network of Lovelace’s relationships—some intellectual, emotional, and sexual—beyond just her familial circle. Moreover, Lovelace’s vast intellect and myriad accomplishments, as well as her occasionally mercurial behavior, were on display, illustrating the many facets of Lovelace’s persona and the honest and scrupulous portrayals that exemplify Markus’s work.
The talk concluded with a lively Q&A and reception, where the audience of the filled room continued conversations over hors d'oeuvres and wine.
This story was written by Kevin Stevens, Graduate Coordinator of the Fordham Romanticism Group.