Rare Alan Turing papers bought by Bletchley Park Trust

A collection of Max Newman's hand-annotated offprints from sixteen of Alan Turing's eighteen books have been purchased by the Bletchley Park Trust with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and a USD100,000 donation from Google. The papers were up for auction, and had they not been bought by the Trust, they likely would have gone to a private collection. They will now be available to the public at the wonderful Bletchley Park museum.

The collection of articles belonged to Professor Max Newman, Turing's friend and fellow Bletchley Park codebreaking genius. It includes offprints of sixteen of Turing's eighteen published works including his momentous paper 'On Computable Numbers' A limited number of the offprints would have been produced at the time and Turing's gifting them to Newman bears testimony to their unique relationship. The set includes articles which have been annotated by Newman, along with Max Newman's name inscribed in pencil in Turing's hand. Accompanying the set of offprints is the Newman household visitors' book with several signatures of Turing, that of Turing's mother and, of special significance to Bletchley Park, signatures of other wartime codebreaking giants.

The Turing-Newman Collaboration Collection is particularly rare, important and valuable as very few physical traces of Turing's work or personal belongings still exist. Most of the wartime records at Bletchley Park were destroyed after the war, while Turing himself kept little of his work and very few personal belongings…

Turing's close relationship with Newman was crucial to the historic contribution Turing made, starting with Newman's encouragement to investigate 'mechanical processes' and his help in securing Turing a fellowship at Princeton to continue his research. In 1952 at a time when homosexuality was illegal in the UK, Turing was convicted of having a sexual relationship with another man. Turing was sentenced to a hormone treatment that amounted to chemical castration. The conviction robbed him of his security clearance for GCHQ, for which he still worked, and made him the target for surveillance at the start of the cold war. Having made one of the most outstanding contributions of the twentieth century, he died after eating an apple laced with cyanide.


(Thanks, Martin!)