The best Ada Lovelace books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about Ada Lovelace and why they recommend each book.

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Ada, Countess of Lovelace

By Doris Langley-Levy Moore,

Book cover of Ada, Countess of Lovelace: Byron's Legitimate Daughter

This was the first biography of Ada. It is opinionated, comprehensive, and entertaining. Ada’s short, tumultuous life is related with little attention to mathematics or proto-computing, but much to her psychology and that of her family and friends. It’s a gothic tale of emotional hypocrisy and cruelty. Ada’s mother, Lady Byron, encouraged the aura of wickedness surrounding Lord Byron and styled herself its victim. Virulently self-righteous, she encouraged her daughter’s mathematical gifts in order to smother her imaginative ones. Despite Victorian piety, superstition, Old Boy network science, drug addiction, the confinement of women - and her overbearing Mother - Ada managed to engage the latest ideas in England and Germany and, working with Babbage, to produce an astonishingly prescient analysis of the “first computer.”


Who am I?

I’ve enjoyed a long career as an author-illustrator of picture books for children. I search for stories of girls and women whose greatness has been overlooked: - Caroline Herschel, pioneering astronomer, - Oney Judge, the slave who escaped from George and Martha Washington, - Margaret Knight, the inventor who fought the man who tried to steal her idea and won in court - and Lizzie Murphy, the big-league baseball star. Every one of them had to overcome centuries of fierce resistance to female empowerment. A few of my biographies began as picture books, but their subjects quickly outgrew that format.


I wrote...

Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business - And Won!

By Emily Arnold McCully,

Book cover of Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business - And Won!

What is my book about?

Tarbell’s brave, scrupulous, serial expose of Rockefeller in McClure’s Magazine riveted the nation and led to the breakup of the Standard Oil monopoly. Her work made her the most famous woman in America. The only female Muckraker, Tarbell was born in Western Pennsylvania just as oil was discovered there. During her early years, Oil came to dominate the industry and seep into every other aspect of modern life. Using predatory and illegal tactics, John D Rockefeller came to dominate Oil.

As a single woman in a hyper-masculine age, Tarbell found a way to be one of the boys, and was uniquely respected for her views on issues of the day. She is a complex, flawed, but admirable model for girls and young women drawn to journalism, or the history of ascendancies over a world stubbornly shaped by male entitlement.

Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers

By Betty Alexandra Toole,

Book cover of Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers: Poetical Science

Toole, the first expert in computing to tackle Ada’s story, gathered her letters from British archives and libraries, then arranged their highlights to tell the story of Lovelace’s life in all of its complexity. Her introductions to each decade of life set the context but Ada herself tells the story in her inimitable voice. This book was published before scholars were willing to credit Ada with her achievement. In fact, many dismissed it altogether. It was Toole’s mission to correct the record and she succeeded admirably. This is the essential Lovelace Reader.


Who am I?

I’ve enjoyed a long career as an author-illustrator of picture books for children. I search for stories of girls and women whose greatness has been overlooked: - Caroline Herschel, pioneering astronomer, - Oney Judge, the slave who escaped from George and Martha Washington, - Margaret Knight, the inventor who fought the man who tried to steal her idea and won in court - and Lizzie Murphy, the big-league baseball star. Every one of them had to overcome centuries of fierce resistance to female empowerment. A few of my biographies began as picture books, but their subjects quickly outgrew that format.


I wrote...

Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business - And Won!

By Emily Arnold McCully,

Book cover of Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business - And Won!

What is my book about?

Tarbell’s brave, scrupulous, serial expose of Rockefeller in McClure’s Magazine riveted the nation and led to the breakup of the Standard Oil monopoly. Her work made her the most famous woman in America. The only female Muckraker, Tarbell was born in Western Pennsylvania just as oil was discovered there. During her early years, Oil came to dominate the industry and seep into every other aspect of modern life. Using predatory and illegal tactics, John D Rockefeller came to dominate Oil.

As a single woman in a hyper-masculine age, Tarbell found a way to be one of the boys, and was uniquely respected for her views on issues of the day. She is a complex, flawed, but admirable model for girls and young women drawn to journalism, or the history of ascendancies over a world stubbornly shaped by male entitlement.

In Byron's Wake

By Miranda Seymour,

Book cover of In Byron's Wake

At last! A book that places Byron’s wife, Annabella Milbank, and mathematician daughter, Ada Lovelace, centre-stage instead of the dusty wings of all previous books about this notorious and complicated man. It is the perfect book for anyone interested in Byron and his world, and more importantly for readers keen to consider a more nuanced account of his wife and daughter.

Who am I?

I have been researching, curating, and writing women’s history for 30 years. I curated the suffragette exhibition Purple, White, and Green at the Museum of London. I wrote The Suffragettes in Pictures; Love and Dirt: The Marriage of Arthur Munby and Hannah Cullwick; Elsie and Mairi Go To War: Two Extraordinary Women on the Western Front; The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton, and Rise Up, Women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes. I am a public historian, devoted to sharing my research and writing with all. I am a keen podcaster, Youtuber, and guest on television and radio. You could say I’m a heroine addict. I hope you love my recommendations.


I wrote...

Rise Up, Women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes

By Diane Atkinson,

Book cover of Rise Up, Women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes

What is my book about?

The suffragettes and their actions would come to define protest movements for generations to come. From their marches on Downing Street, the selling of their paper, Votes for Women, through to the more militant activities of the Women’s Social and Political Union – the bombing of pillar-boxes, acts of arson, and the slashing of great works of art – the women who participated in the movement endured police brutality, assault, imprisonment and force-feeding, all in the relentless pursuit of one goal: the right to vote.

Rise Up, Women! tells the story of a richly diverse group that spanned the divides of class and country, women of all ages who were determined to fight for what had for so long been denied. 

Broad Band

By Claire L. Evans,

Book cover of Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet

Both my first book Curveball and my new book touch on how losing access to information can only shrink someone’s ability to live their life effectively which, in an age where most of us have a near-constant Internet connection, can feel unimaginable, and yet, Broad Band proves that is more likely than we think. Evan’s book attempts to reframe the history of computing by recentering the often forgotten women at the center of that story, asking us to reimagine what our digital informational landscape could have looked like if care for everyone in our communities was more central to that story.


Who am I?

With my first book Curveball and now my second The Short While, I’ve attempted at telling stories about the various connections between people and how happenstance really does shape more than we can ever know. Both of my books are a little over 400 pages each, not because I don’t know how to edit but rather that only at that scale do I feel like I can adequately describe life as it has felt like for me. It’s what I love in the books listed below—that the way in which we find ourselves surrounded by the people we know never ceases to feel anything short of miraculous and absurd.


I wrote...

The Short While

By Jeremy Sorese,

Book cover of The Short While

What is my book about?

The Short While is a Queer Sci-Fi thriller about attempting to construct a life in the ruins of something larger than yourself. In the case of my book, it's a fallen totalitarian regime that once had the best of intentions. Written and drawn over the last five years, my second book has become a love letter to every attempt, made by myself or someone I love, to build a life with someone else, be it romantic or not. I’ve been referring to it as a story about a haunted house where the haunted house is America and the characters are all the eager young couple who bought something cursed sight unseen, and can’t move out now because they already made the down payment. 

The Information

By James Gleick,

Book cover of The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood

We are often reminded that we live in the Information Age and this witty, lucid, wide-ranging book tells how that happened and what it means. Ada plays an important role, but it is the stage that matters here. Where did she fit in, how have her ideas helped to create our world? Gleick’s profound erudition equips him to link all the disparate fields that make up Information. Ada, with her appetite for all kinds of ideas, from flight, to rainbows, musical composition, mesmerism, electricity, hydrodynamics, poetry, ethics, and, of course, information, embodies an ongoing transformation of human consciousness.  Gleick introduces her and many others in dramatic set pieces that make this a thrilling book to read.

Finally, anyone seriously interested in Ada Byron Lovelace should consult the online proceedings of the Ada Lovelace Symposium conducted at the Mathematical Institute at Oxford in December 2015.

Over the course of two days, literary,…


Who am I?

I’ve enjoyed a long career as an author-illustrator of picture books for children. I search for stories of girls and women whose greatness has been overlooked: - Caroline Herschel, pioneering astronomer, - Oney Judge, the slave who escaped from George and Martha Washington, - Margaret Knight, the inventor who fought the man who tried to steal her idea and won in court - and Lizzie Murphy, the big-league baseball star. Every one of them had to overcome centuries of fierce resistance to female empowerment. A few of my biographies began as picture books, but their subjects quickly outgrew that format.


I wrote...

Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business - And Won!

By Emily Arnold McCully,

Book cover of Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business - And Won!

What is my book about?

Tarbell’s brave, scrupulous, serial expose of Rockefeller in McClure’s Magazine riveted the nation and led to the breakup of the Standard Oil monopoly. Her work made her the most famous woman in America. The only female Muckraker, Tarbell was born in Western Pennsylvania just as oil was discovered there. During her early years, Oil came to dominate the industry and seep into every other aspect of modern life. Using predatory and illegal tactics, John D Rockefeller came to dominate Oil.

As a single woman in a hyper-masculine age, Tarbell found a way to be one of the boys, and was uniquely respected for her views on issues of the day. She is a complex, flawed, but admirable model for girls and young women drawn to journalism, or the history of ascendancies over a world stubbornly shaped by male entitlement.

ADA Lovelace

By Christopher Hollings, Ursula Martin, Adrian Rice

Book cover of ADA Lovelace: The Making of a Computer Scientist

Written by mathematicians with a great literary flair, and beautifully illustrated with archival materials, this most recent Lovelace book is a comprehensive and lively recounting of her genius and its consummation in her collaboration with Charles Babbage.  It should banish any lingering doubts about Lovelace’s ability to interpret Babbage’s invention (even better than he did, at times) and to envision the potential that could only be realized nearly 100 years after her tragically early death. 

If just one book is to be read about Ada (other than my own), this is it!


Who am I?

I’ve enjoyed a long career as an author-illustrator of picture books for children. I search for stories of girls and women whose greatness has been overlooked: - Caroline Herschel, pioneering astronomer, - Oney Judge, the slave who escaped from George and Martha Washington, - Margaret Knight, the inventor who fought the man who tried to steal her idea and won in court - and Lizzie Murphy, the big-league baseball star. Every one of them had to overcome centuries of fierce resistance to female empowerment. A few of my biographies began as picture books, but their subjects quickly outgrew that format.


I wrote...

Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business - And Won!

By Emily Arnold McCully,

Book cover of Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business - And Won!

What is my book about?

Tarbell’s brave, scrupulous, serial expose of Rockefeller in McClure’s Magazine riveted the nation and led to the breakup of the Standard Oil monopoly. Her work made her the most famous woman in America. The only female Muckraker, Tarbell was born in Western Pennsylvania just as oil was discovered there. During her early years, Oil came to dominate the industry and seep into every other aspect of modern life. Using predatory and illegal tactics, John D Rockefeller came to dominate Oil.

As a single woman in a hyper-masculine age, Tarbell found a way to be one of the boys, and was uniquely respected for her views on issues of the day. She is a complex, flawed, but admirable model for girls and young women drawn to journalism, or the history of ascendancies over a world stubbornly shaped by male entitlement.

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