Mathematician and computing pioneer Alan Turing now appears on the £50 note, which will be released this month.
No amount of rights can adequately redress the wrongs done to Alan Turing, the mathematician and codebreaker who cracked Germany’s Enigma code in World War 2, thus helping to bring a swifter end to the conflict. Despite his service, he was convicted of “gross indecency” in 1952, for the crime of being a gay man in a society which criminalised homosexuality, and later took his own life after accepting chemical castration instead of a prison sentence. In recent years, he’s received an apology from the British government and a posthumous pardon from the Queen, and now the pioneering thinker will be featured on the Bank of England’s new £50 note.
Though the new £50 note was first announced back in 2019, the final designs were revealed today. Turing’s likeness joins Winston Churchill (£5), Jane Austen (£10), and JMW Turner (£20) on British banknotes, and the note will also feature nods to his status as an early pioneer of computing with maths formulae and drawings of his machines. It’s been released alongside GCHQ’s most difficult puzzle ever, with puzzle fiends invited to solve twelve riddles linked to the new note.
The £50 is the last of the UK’s banknotes to switch from paper to plastic notes and will enter circulation on June 23, 2021 – 109 years to the day since the birth of Turing. To mark today’s unveiling, the Bank of England has been flying the rainbow flag over their headquarters in Threadneedle Street, and one can only hope this is far from the last time we see an LGBTQ+ figure represented on UK currency.