Manuscript by Turing to go under hammer

Alan Turing
Alan Turing

A rare notebook belonging to wartime code-breaker Alan Turing is expected to go under the hammer for more than £1 million.

The 56-page manuscript sees the mathematician working on the ‘foundations of mathematical notation and computer science’.

Bonhams is putting the item up for auction in New York on April 13.

The manuscript dates from 1942 when Mr Turing was working at Bletchley Park to break the German Enigma Code. It was among the papers left by him in his will to his close friend and fellow mathematician, Robin Gandy.

Cassandra Hatton, senior specialist in fine books and manuscripts and the history of science at Bonhams, said: “This manuscript dates from the time when Mr Turing was engaged in the crucial task of breaking the Enigma Code. Its mathematical content gives an extraordinary insight into the working mind of one of the greatest luminaries of the 20th century.”

Leading Turing scholar Andrew Hodges said: “Alan Turing was parsimonious with his words and everything from his pen has special value. This notebook shines extra light on how, even when he was enmeshed in great world events, he remained committed to free-thinking work in pure mathematics.”

The award-winning film

Mr Cumberbatch said: “Alan Turing was a war hero, who broke the Enigma code helping to bring an end to the Second World War, the father of modern computing science, and a gay icon who lived in a time of intolerance and tragically committed suicide as a result. The thought of being able to hold a manuscript that was written by him is thrilling.”

Mr Turing was educated at St Michael’s School in Charles Road, St Leonards until he was 14. He studied maths at King’s College, Cambridge and his paper

He made major computer breakthroughs in the post-war years and is generally regarded as the father of computer science.

But in 1952 he was convicted of gross indecency following a relationship with another man and underwent hormonal treatment as an alternative to prison. As a result Mr Turing committed suicide in 1954 by swallowing cyanide.

He received a posthumous apology in 2009 from the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown who labelled the treatment he got as ‘utterly unfair and appalling’.

Mr Turing was posthumously pardoned in December 2013 under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy after a request by Justice Minister Chris Grayling.

The news was welcomed by campaigners, who fought for a number of years to get him pardoned.