Alan Turing, World War II code breaker and subject of the Oscar nominated film The Imitation Game, had been sentenced to chemical castration when he was found guilty of “gross indecency” with a 19-year-old man.
Now, three previously unpublished letters written by Turing in the 1950s are shedding some light on his struggle with his sexuality and his desire for a permanent relationship.
In one letter to a friend, in which he discussed the effects of the treatment given to him to suppress his homosexual urges, Turing wrote, “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.”
One letter finds him discussing his relationship with his mother:
“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.’”
He also wrote about plans to vacation in a French-run camp with the option of finding a lover:
“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. I want a permanent relationship and I might feel inclined to reject anything which of its nature could not be permanent.”
Turing’s nephew, Sir Dermot Turing, has included some of these new passages in his upcoming book, Prof: Alan Turing Decoded.
He says the letters confirm the sexual turmoil that most people assumed Turing was in around the time of his death.