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Turing's Notebook Sells for Over $1 Million at Auction

Alan Turing

The 56-page manuscript contains his complex mathematical and computer science notations

For decades the general public didn't know much about Alan Turing, the famed British mathematician and WWII code-breaking genius, but then Benedict Cumberbatch played him in a major motion picture. The Imitation Game won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay, based on Andrew Hodges' definitive biography, Alan Turing: The Enigma. Now Turing's "lost" notebook has sold at auction for $1.25 million.

As Bonhams noted in its release on the manuscript:

"Made up of 56 pages contained in a simple notebook bought from a stationers in Cambridge, UK, it is almost certainly the only extensive autograph manuscript by Turing in existence, and has never been seen in public. From internal evidence, it dates from 1942 when he was working at Bletchley Park to break the German Enigma Code, and provides remarkable insight into the thought process of a genius."

Turing, who died in 1954 from a suicidal cyanide poisining, willed the notebook to his friend and fellow mathematician Robin Gandy who kept it and wrote down his own dreams on its blank pages (at the requet of his psychiatrist). Gandy kept the notebook until his death in 1995 and Bonhams described the dream journal's contents "highly personal."

Gandy wrote at the beginning of this journal: "It seems a suitable disguise to write in between these notes of Alan's on notation, but possibly a little sinister; a dead father figure, some of whose thoughts I most completely inherited."

Bonhams stated that the buyer wished to remain anonymous, and that part of the proceeds will be donated to charity.

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