Document by Alan Turing who grew up in St Leonards sells for more than $1 million

Alan Turing
Alan Turing

A key handwritten scientific document by Enigma code breaker Alan Turing has sold for $1,025,000 (almost £700,000) at an auction in New York.

The document was auctioned by Bonhams yesterday (April 13) in its Fine Books & Manuscripts Sale.

Turing grew up in St Leonards and a portion of the proceeds from Bonhams and the vendor will be donated to charity.

A statement on Bonhams website from Cassandra Hatton, senior specialist in Fine Books and Manuscripts and the History of Science at Bonhams, reads: “This is a wonderful result and a fitting testament to Alan Turing’s impact and legacy.

“It has been a great privilege to have been involved in this sale.

“We are immensely pleased that all the people who bid for this unique item and indeed the wider public have recognised Turing’s importance and place in history.”

Made up of 56 pages contained in a simple notebook bought from a stationers in Cambridge, Bonhams states on its website that ‘it is almost certainly the only extensive autograph manuscript by Turing in existence.’ 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.

As he writes in his distinctive hand: “The Leibniz notation I find extremely difficult to understand in spite of it having been the one I understood the best once! It certainly implies that some relation between x and y has been laid down eg, y=x2+3x...”

It was among the papers left by Turing in his will to his close friend and fellow mathematician, Robin Gandy.

Turing was considered to be the father of modern computing.

During the Second World War, Turing did crucial work at Bletchley Park breaking the German Enigma Code. Turing was educated at St Michael’s School in Charles Road, St Leonards until he was 14.