Home Cyber GCHQ celebrates life and legacy of Alan Turing at launch of new biography

GCHQ celebrates life and legacy of Alan Turing at launch of new biography

by Brian Sims
The new book about the work of Alan Turing

The new book about the work of Alan Turing

GCHQ has hosted an event to mark the official launch of a new book commemorating the life of legendary Bletchley Park codebreaker Alan Turing. Prof: Alan Turing Decoded is a biography written by Turing’s nephew, Sir Dermot Turing, and celebrates the life and work of an extraordinary man, mathematician, code-breaker, computer scientist and biologist.

Alan Turing made a crucial contribution to the cryptanalytic success of GCHQ’s forerunner, the Government Code and Cypher School, at Bletchley Park during World War II. He designed the Bombe, the first special-purpose cryptanalytic machine, made major contributions to the exploitation of the German Naval Enigma and laid the foundations for modern computing.

Turing’s successors at GCHQ continue that vital task of protecting the UK and its citizens from threats such as terrorism, serious crime and electronic attacks.

The event at GCHQ’s Cheltenham headquarters also celebrated the launch of a special edition of the book, available to GCHQ staff only, with a bespoke cover and a foreword written by GCHQ director Robert Hannigan.

Profits from the sales of this edition are being donated to two charities close to the organisation’s heart – GCFund, which helps GCHQ staff and their families in times of financial distress, and the Bletchley Park Trust*. Thanks to the generosity of GCHQ’s staff, over £20,000 has been raised so far to be split between the charities.

Robert Hannigan

Robert Hannigan

Robert Hannigan commented: “The successors of Alan Turing at GCHQ today continue to be inspired by his achievements in defence of his country. Our diverse workforce is a reflection of how much has changed since Turing’s time, but we share the same creative spirit and passionate dedication to our work.”

Sharing previously unpublished photographs from the Turing family album, Dermot Turing offers a unique family perspective and his own commentary on the life and discoveries of his uncle in Prof: Alan Turing Decoded. Dermot brings his own personal insights, drawn from family sources, interviews with Alan’s contemporaries and other materials not available to previous researchers, including:

*documents about to be released by GCHQ not available at the time of the last major biography
*letters written by Alan Turing which came to light only last year
*Turing’s notebook (which was rediscovered and sold earlier this year)
*Turing’s brother’s archive of papers from 1954 when Alan died

Sir Dermot Turing was educated at Sherborne and Cambridge. After completing his DPhil at Oxford, he moved into the legal profession, working first for HM Treasury Solicitor’s Department and then for Clifford Chance, where he was a partner from 1999-2014. Today, Turing serves as a trustee of Bletchley Park and pursues interests in history and code-breaking.

*The Mission of the Bletchley Park Trust is to preserve and develop Bletchley Park as a world class museum, heritage site and education centre in order to enhance the understanding of the critical contribution of code-breaking and intelligence in World War Two, the birth of computing and electronic security and how these unique achievements remain relevant in today’s world

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