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Famed WW2 Codebreaker Alan Turing Is The New Face Of The £50 Note

By Alex Landon

£50

Mathematician and computing pioneer Alan Turing now appears on the £50 note, released today.

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 from today, the pioneering thinker appears on the Bank of England’s new £50 note. [Featured image: AFP Photo/Bank of England]

£50 note
Photo: AFP Photo/Bank of England

Though the new £50 note was first announced back in 2019, it finally enters circulation today (June 23), on Turing’s 109th birthday. Turing’s likeness joins Winston Churchill (£5), Jane Austen (£10), and JMW Turner (£20) on British bank notes, and the note alsos feature nods to his status as an early pioneer of computing with maths formulae and drawings of his machines.

The £50 is the last of the UK’s banknotes to switch from paper to plastic notes, and paper £50 notes will be phased out of circulation by September 2022. It’s a nice step, although one can only hope this is far from the last time we see a LGBTQ+ figure represented on UK currency.

In other news, here are 27 ways London is celebrating Pride Month.


Also published on Medium.