EV 1476 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1476

Enigmatic Variations 1476

After Steelman by Chalicea

Setter’s Blog

Extra letters from wordplay give MAD, BAD and DANGEROUS TO KNOW, describing Lord Byron, father of ADA LOVELACE; she assisted BABBAGE with his ANALYTICAL ENGINE and he called her ENCHANTRESS OF NUMBER.

As one of the regular bloggers of the Listener crosswords in Listen With Others, I find that I am frequently pleading with setters to provide a setter’s blog and gently attempting to twist the arm of reluctant setters who say “I set this so long ago that I have completely forgotten where the idea came from or how I set it.” Now I get my come-uppance!

Where the original idea came from I do remember. ‘Ada’ emerged from a discussion with Steve Bartlett, the EV editor. I think it was a word in a crossword and he said something like “That’s a theme for you – a lady who achieved.”

Within a week of that, John Henderson’s regular weekly pictorial quiz included the portrait of Ada Lovelace that appears in the Internet and there was enough material there to more than fill a grid with details of BABBAGE’s ANALYTICAL ENGINE and his immense respect for his ENCHANTRESS OF NUMBER.

It was learning that she was the daughter of Lord Byron that completed the thematic material I needed and that gave me a way to help solvers towards what is possibly relatively obscure knowledge for some. We have all heard of the man who was ‘Mad, bad and dangerous to know’ according to Lady Caroline Lamb, and those words provided the prompt that solvers might need. Wikipedia provides fascinating examples of his madness:

« Byron also kept a tame bear while he was a student at Trinity, out of resentment for rules forbidding pet dogs like his beloved Boatswain. There being no mention of bears in their statutes, the college authorities had no legal basis for complaining: Byron even suggested that he would apply for a college fellowship for the bear.

During his lifetime, in addition to numerous cats, dogs, and horses, Byron kept a fox, monkeys, an eagle, a crow, a falcon, peacocks, guinea hens, an Egyptian crane, a badger, geese, a heron, and a goat. Except for the horses, they all resided indoors at his homes in England, Switzerland, Italy, and Greece. >>

‘Bad and dangerous to know’ were perhaps less justified as they emerged from the resentment of Lady Caroline Lamb when he rejected her.

What amazed me was that Ada Byron (Ada Lovelace) could, from the Byronic background, emerge as a pioneer of computer programming with the ADA programming language which followed the STRAWMAN, WOODENMAN, TINMAN, IRONMAN, and STEELMAN programming languages, being named in her honour. (That, of course, was the explanation of the title.)

A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.