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The Poetry of Mathematics

Georgina Ferry presents the correspondence of Ada Lovelace, the young Victorian who predicted our digital age. Starring Sally Hawkins as Ada, Olivia Williams and Anthony Head.

Georgina Ferry presents part one of the correspondence of Ada Lovelace, dramatised by an all-star cast; and reveals the intense inner world of a young Victorian lady who anticipated our digital age.

Ada Lovelace (Sally Hawkins) was the abandoned daughter of the romantic poet Lord Byron. Concerned that Ada might inherit her father's feckless and 'dangerous' poetic tendencies, her single mother Lady Byron (Olivia Williams) made sure she was tutored thoroughly in mathematics, and regularly prescribed 'more maths' to improve her mental health. When she came out in London society, Ada met the man who would change her life, but not in the way most debutantes would have imagined. The distinguished mathematician, Charles Babbage (Anthony Head) became her life-long friend and mentor: Ada was fascinated by his steam-powered calculating machines. Supported by her husband William (George Watkins), she defied society's expectations, studying mathematics with extraordinary passion and determination when she was married with three small children; and later suggesting boldly to Babbage that he might like to work with her on his innovative thinking machines.

28 minutes

Last on

Wed 14 Oct 2015 15:30

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Archive Acknowledgements

With thanks to Lord Lytton for permission to broadcast letters from the Lovelace Byron papers in the Bodleian Library (Dep. Lovelace Byron 1-460

Letters from Ada Lovelace to Charles Babbage are in the British Library

Letters from Ada Lovelace to Michael Faraday are in the archives of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET)


Role Contributor
Presenter Georgina Ferry
Ada Lovelace Sally Hawkins
Lady Byron Olivia Williams
Charles Babbage Anthony Head
William George Watkins
Producer Anna Buckley


  • Mon 14 Sep 2015 11:00
  • Tue 13 Oct 2015 21:00
  • Wed 14 Oct 2015 15:30