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Alan Turing's Personal Letters Reveal His Sexual Turmoil

Alan Turing's Personal Letters Reveal His Sexual Turmoil

Alan Turing's Personal Letters Reveal His Sexual Turmoil

Newly released handwritten letters sent by Alan Turing after his conviction for 'gross indecency' reveal his candid thoughts about his sexuality.

Three handwritten letters from noted scientist and World War II codebreaker Alan Turing — hidden from the world until this week — reveal his thoughts about his sexuality, his love life, and his relationship with his mother. 

The letters, sent by Turing to his friend Nick Furbank in the 1950s after Turing's conviction for "gross indecency" for having sex with another man, are part of a forthcoming book, Prof: Alan Turing Decoded. Turing's nephew, Sir Dermot Turing, is the author.

Following his conviction for "gross indecency," Turing was sentenced to chemical castration. He committed suicide in 1954. Turing was posthumously pardoned by Queen Elizabeth in 2013.

"I have had a dream indicating rather clearly that I am on the way to being hetero, though I don’t accept it with much enthusiasm either awake or in the dreams," Turing wrote in one letter about his life after the punishment that was supposed to "cure" his homosexuality.

"Mother has been staying here, and we seem to be getting on a good deal better. I have been subjecting her to a good deal of sexual enlightenment and she seems to have stood up to it very well. There was a rather absurd dream I had the other night in which I asked mother’s opinion about going to bed with some men and she said: ‘Oh very well, but don’t go walking about the place naked like you did before.’

“I expect to lie in the sun, talk French and modern Greek, and make love, though the sex and nationality... has yet to be decided: in fact it is quite possible that this item will be altogether omitted," he wrote in another letter sent before a planned vacation in France. "I want a permanent relationship and I might feel inclined to reject anything which of its nature could not be permanent.”

Turing's nephew points out that the war hero's suicide prevented further generations from knowing his deeper thoughts on his sexuality. "At the same time that he was having his psychotherapy, and... his hormones taken out... [the correspondence] indicates that he was in a good deal of a turmoil, which... has historically been what everyone had assumed, but now is confirmed," he told The Guardian, which first published photos of the letters.

Benedict Cumberbatch recently starred as Turing in the movie, The Imitation Game. The film highlighted Turing's role as the father of modern computing and his success in cracking the notoriously difficult German "Enigma" intelligence codes during World War II. The movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards.

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