Take a Closer Look: Arcadia‘s Thomasina Coverly
By A Noise Within
September 9, 2016
DID YOU KNOW? It is widely believed that the character of Thomasina Coverly in Arcadia is loosely based on Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician in the 1800’s. Many people actually regard her as the first computer programmer!
Though Stoppard has actually denied the connection, Lovelace was the daughter of the famous poet, Lord Byron, an historical figure who is heavily featured (though never actually appears) in Arcadia. Ada’s mother, Lady Anne Isabella Milbanke Byron, separated from Lord Byron when Ada was young and gave her a rigorous mathematical and scientific training.
Ada never knew her father and her mother did everything in her power to keep his poetic influence away from her. As a teenager, Ada was mentored by Charles Babbage, who is known as the father of the computer. Babbage invented the difference engine and the analytical engine—both designed to complete mathematical functions. Ada wrote extensively on Babbage’s inventions, particularly about how certain codes could be developed and programmed into these engines in order to expand the scope of what they could do.
She is also credited with inventing a process known today as “looping.” Pretty cool, huh?