The design of the new £50 banknote, featuring mathematician and wartime codebreaker Alan Turing, has been revealed by the Bank of England.
During the Second World War, Turing worked at the British Government’s Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire.
There, he played a crucial role in developing a method by which the Allies could decipher encrypted codes from the Nazi German Enigma and Lorenz machines. His work is said to have shortened the war by at least two years.
In 1952, Turing was arrested and charged with gross indecency for having a same-sex relationship. As homosexuality was illegal at the time, Turing was forced to endure a course of hormone therapy or face a prison sentence. He committed suicide two years later, in 1954.
Turing received a posthumous royal pardon in 2013. He was brought to further national attention by the 2014 film The Imitation Game, in which he was played by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Along with a picture of Turing, the note will feature formulae from a paper of his on computing, technical drawings relating to his codebreaking work, a signature, and a quote dating from 1949 which reads: ‘This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be.’
Commenting on the unveiling, governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey said: ‘By placing [Turing] on our new polymer £50 banknote, we are celebrating his achievements, and the values he symbolises.’
The note will enter circulation on 23 June 2021. It is the last of the Bank’s collection to switch from paper to polymer. These notes are harder to counterfeit and have additional security measures.