Press Release

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

Last Updated: 08 Oct 2015
GCHQ will today host an event to mark the official launch of a new book commemorating the life of legendary Bletchley Park codebreaker Alan Turing.

 

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Press release - 08 Oct 2015

Prof: Alan Turing Decoded is a biography written by Turing’s nephew, Sir Dermot Turing, and celebrates an extraordinary man, mathematician, codebreaker, 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.

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

Today’s event at GCHQ’s Cheltenham headquarters also celebrates 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 said: "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Sharing previously unpublished photographs from the Turing family album, Dermot Turing offers a unique family perspective and his own commentary on the life and discoveries of his uncle in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 in 2014
  • Alan Turing’s notebook which was rediscovered and sold earlier in 2015
  • Alan Turing’s brother’s archive of papers from 1954 when Alan died.

 

Notes for Editors

About GCHQ

Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is one of the three UK Intelligence and Security Agencies, along with MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). GCHQ works to protect the UK and its citizens from a range of threats to national security, including from terrorism, serious and organised crime and cyber-attack. It also works to protect UK forces wherever they are deployed and, through its Information Security arm CESG, provides policy and assistance on the security of Government communications and electronic data.

Further information about GCHQ can be found on our website: www.gchq.gov.uk.

About the Author

Sir Dermot Turing was educated at Sherborne and Cambridge, like his uncle, Alan Turing before him. After completing his DPhil at Oxford, Dermot 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.He now serves as a trustee of Bletchley Park and pursues interests in history and codebreaking.

About the charities

GCFund is a registered charity which helps current and retired GCHQ staff and their families at times of financial distress.

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 codebreaking and intelligence in World War Two, the birth of computing and electronic security, and how these unique achievements remain relevant today.

For more information about this news release, contact the GCHQ Press Office.