A postcard written by Alan Turing to a friend has sold at auction for £28,000.
Although seen as a hero today for his work breaking German codes during WWII, at the time Turing was an outcast, having been convicted of gross indecency at a time when homosexuality was still a crime in England.
The postcard, sent from Corfu in July 1953 – less than a year prior to Turin’s suicide – is addressed to Dr Franz Greenbaum, a Manchester psychiatrist and is thought to contain a hidden – and tragic - message.
“I hope you are all enjoying yourselves as well as I am here at Corfu. It is tremendously hot and one wears bathing [things] all day.”
But instead of sending a postcard with a beach scene, Turning, 41 at the time, chose an image bearing the work of historian Flavius Josephus a first-century writer of a mathematical puzzle known as the “suicide circle,” which detailed how several people could kill themselves at once.
Turing, who had chosen to be chemically castrated rather than serve a prison sentence, killed himself in June 1954 by taking cyanide.
The postcard, one of very few letters of any sort written by Turing, sold in the US at the weekend.
He was officially pardoned in 2013 and earlier this year, Turning’s Law posthumously pardoned about 50,000 gay men
convicted of historical offences which are no longer illegal. Under the legislation, a further 15,000 gay men can apply to have their criminal record wiped clean, too.
Words: Hugh Kaye
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