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HODGES, Andrew.

Alan Turing: The Enigma.

[Together with 3 typed letters signed from Hodges to Arthur Harris, Turing's school friend and "fag-master" at Sherborne School.]

London: Burnett Books Limited, 1983 Stock Code: 143870
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"I am doing my best to reconstruct Turing's perhaps rather chequered career at Sherborne School"

First edition, first impression, of Hodges's esteemed biography of the great computer science pioneer, accompanied by letters from the author to Arthur Harris requesting information on Turing as a student and, later, thanking him for his assistance.

In his first letter to Harris, the head boy of Turing's school house, Westcott, Hodges writes, "I am doing my best to reconstruct Turing's perhaps rather chequered career at Sherborne School. Your name features in Mrs Sara Turing's memoir of her son, and Mr Peter Hogg another of Turing's schoolmates also spoke warmly of you when I met him a few weeks ago. I understand that Alan Turing was your fag in the year 1926-27. Mr M. H. Blamey also told me a story of Turing's arrival at Sherborne during the General Strike: apparently it was you who took the message when he telegraphed from Southampton. Anecdotes of this kind will all help me to construct a readable narrative, and I wonder whether you would be able to help me with further comments?"

Harris evidently responded in the affirmative, for several of his stories are included in the book, including why he appointed Turing as his personal servant, or "fag", as part of the traditional public school practice of fagging. He had been impressed, he said, by Turing's initiative in cycling the 63 miles from Southampton to Sherborne so as not to miss the first day of the summer term when the trains were cancelled due to the strike. In turn, Harris's younger brother, David, would become Turing's fag on joining the school "and found him well-meaning but absent-minded as a master" (p. 58).

In the second and third letters, Hodges expresses his dismay at forgetting to return a photograph album and history of the school which Harris had evidently lent to him, and thanks him for his "warm response" to the biography, which had been published in the UK the month previous, in October.

Alan Turing: The Enigma was the basis for the Academy Award-winning film, The Imitation Game (2014), starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. Copies of the first UK edition (the US edition was published later the same year) are very scarce in commerce.

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Octavo. Original black cloth, spine lettered in silver. With dust jacket. With 3 single sheet letters, dated 31 July 1978, 30 October 1983, and 10 November 1983 respectively, and 2 newspaper clippings, the first an article by Hodges on Turing from The Sunday Telegraph, 7 September 1986, the second a review of Hodges's biography, laid-in.


8 pages of black and white photographic plates.


Pencilled ownership signature to front free endpaper. Spine a little rolled and ends bumped, top edge lightly foxed, dust jacket extremities rubbed with two tape repairs to inside, overall a very good copy. Letters and newspaper clippings creased and folded as typical.


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