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Photograph of the Month - June 2012

Past display archive
1 June - 30 June 2012

Room 31


Alan Turing
by Elliott & Fry
29 March 1951
NPG x27079

June marks the 100-year anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing, one of Britain’s most influential mathematicians and computer scientists. Born in London, Turing struggled to fit into the rigid public school system and instead he independently pursued his passion for science. His homosexuality was a central part of his identity but it was not until he began studying at King’s College, Cambridge that he fully acknowledged it. Throughout the Second World War Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park. Known to colleagues as ‘Prof’, Turing was central to the breaking of the German naval cipher, the Enigma. After the war he joined the National Physical Laboratory where he led the work to develop a large-scale electronic digital computer.

In March 1952 Turing was brought to trial for having a sexual relationship with a man. In order to avoid prison, he agreed to take oestrogen injections. His position as a government consultant was ended and his personal life came under scrutiny. On 8 June 1954 Turing was found dead, the inquest ruled suicide by cyanide.

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