Anyone calculating the cost of Britain's horrific homophobia must include all the things Alan Turing didn't solve or invent because he killed himself at 41. The brilliant mathematician had already broken the Germans' Enigma code during WWII, become an OBE, laid the groundwork for the modern computer by designing the Automatic Computing Engine, and devoted himself to a field of mathematical biology called morphogenesis (specifically, discerning the Fibonacci numbers in plant structures). In 1952 his home was burgled by two men, one of whom was a 19 year-old Turning had slept with, and as a result of their break-in he was charged with gross indecency under the same 1885 law that felled Oscar Wilde. To avoid prison, he was forced to undergo painful injections of estrogen as a form of chemical castration. He died by eating a poisoned apple. His mother strongly believed the cyanide in the fruit was accidental, owing to her son's legendary carelessness, but his death was ruled a suicide. Timothy Ferris points out that Turing's favorite fairy tale was Snow White. The best short biography of him is The Man Who Knew Too Much.
Raised in Palo Alto, David Leavitt graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale at 21, by which time he had already published a gay themed short story in The New Yorker. His first collection, Family Dancing, appeared the following year and was nominated for an NBCC (losing to Louise Erdrich) and the PEN/Faulkner Award (won by Tobias Wolff). Since then he's published seven novels, the most recent of which, The Indian Clerk, was also a PEN/Faulkner finalist (won by Kate Christensen); three other collections of stories or novellas; his collected stories; a brief book on Florence; and, because karma is king, the short biography mentioned above of gay birthday-mate Alan Turing. He is a professor at the University of Florida, where he and his partner Mark Mitchell co-edit the literary journal Subtropics whose fiction is regularly selected as among the year's best. Leavitt and Mitchell also co-edited an anthology of gay fiction from 1748 to 1914, Pages Passed From Hand to Hand. They divide their time between Florida and Tuscany and in their spare time have co-written two other books about Italy. Today Leavitt turns 49.