Alison Owen and Debra Hayward’s Monumental Pictures is set to make a big screen biopic about Victorian mathematician and computer science visionary Ada Lovelace. Development is being supported by Google and the National Academy of Sciences’ program, The Science and Entertainment Exchange. Shawn Slovo, who wrote Stephen Frears’ Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight and Phillip Noyce’s Catch a Fire, is set to write the screenplay.
Lovelace was the daughter of notorious Romantic poet Lord Byron and a contemporary of Charles Babbage, a man who is best remembered for originating the concept of a programmable computer. A gifted mathematician, Lovelace foresaw the possibilities of Babbage’s designs and wrote what is recognized as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine, a true visionary of the modern computer.
Her personal life was more complicated, dominated by her controlling mother who, after she divorced Byron soon after marrying him, denied her daughter any creative outlet in the hope that she would not take after him. As well as her lust for scientific innovation, Lovelace had a passion for parties and gambling and tragically died never seeing her ideas realized. But, during WW2, Alan Turing discovered her notes which were critical in shaping his thinking in constructing the famous Turing Machine, used to crack the German Enigma code.
“With a scandalous nature to rival that of her father Byron and a scientific talent which aided the discovery of the modern computer, we feel privileged to be carrying the torch for such a trailblazer,” said Owen in a statement.
Hayward added: “Much like Turing, Ada’s achievements were downplayed and denied. She was a woman out of her time – a computer pioneer with a daredevil streak. We can’t wait to bring this complex and brilliant woman to the screen.”
Well-respected and award-winning producers Owen and Hayward set up Monumental in 2014 and last year ITV Studios Global took a minority stake in their television shingle, Monumental Television. They currently have Harlots in production for Hulu and ITV and Will for TNT. Owen previously established Ruby Films in 1998. She recently produced Suffragette with Faye Ward for Pathé, Emilia Clarke starrer Me Before You for MGM and is currently in post-production on Tulip Fever for The Weinstein Company. Prior to Monumental, Hayward was a huge creative driving force behind UK production powerhouse Working Title’s biggest hits such as Les Miserables and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and, more recently, Bridget Jones’ Baby.