c1835 Ink Doodle of Ada Lovelace by William King - MD


An attractive pen drawing of a young woman in an Victorian dress, dating from around 1826 and with more than a passing resemblance to Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron.

It is possibly a doodle, rather than a study of a more formal image, as it has been penned on a piece of scrap paper. Either way, the picture is very well executed. It has been mounted, framed and glazed, with a photocopy image of the writing on the reverse of the paper, stuck on the back. The image is one of a selection of drawings that we purchased at auction, but without any provenance.

Subsequent research showed that all the ‘doodles’ are by the same hand and several are the reverse side of written paper. A couple of them are on scraps of a handwritten draft of a will or testament. From the names and place on the paper, it became clear that the owner was William King MD (1786 – 1865), who was a British physician and philanthropist from Brighton, where he created the first cooperative and produced a newsletter ‘The Co-operator’. He was also a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, a private advisor to Lord Overstone and a friend and advisor to Lady Byron. As well as supporting a lot of his philanthropic endeavours, Lady Byron entrusted to him the education of her daughter ‘Augusta Ada Byron (1815 – 1852), the only legitimate child of poet Lord Byron. He separated from his wife a month after Ada was born and left England forever four months later. Her mother remained bitter and promoted Ada's interest in mathematics, although she soon outshone King’s knowledge of the subject, becoming the first computer programmer of Babbage’s new machine. She married William King (no relation) in 1835. That King was made Earl of Lovelace in 1838, Ada thereby becoming Countess of Lovelace.

Whilst we cannot absolutely guarantee that the picture is Ada Lovelace, the similarities and connections are strong.

Size image: 10 x 10.5 cm (4 x 4 1/8 inches)
Size frame: 21.5 x 22.75 x 2 cm (8 ½ x 8 7/8 x ¾ inches)
Weight: 336 g