Robin Gandy (pictured below c1970)
Born 1919, Gandy became a Communist at university. He was also to become an intimate friend, student and colleague of the noted mathematician, Alan Turing, who is now more widely famous for his work on the Enigma coding machine during the Second World War.
Gandy himself recalled the circumstances of his joining the Communist Party. After a while at Cambridge, he realised that “if one wanted to do anything, the Communist Party were the only people. There was the Socialist Club, but that was run by the Communists. So I joined the Communist Party and became one of the people who ran the Socialist Club… Eric Hobsbawm was there in the first year; after the war he became a close friend. When I joined the Party the King’s College cell consisted of two people including myself! The days of the romantic intellectual Marxists were gone. It was less modish. I left Cambridge and the Party but was a fellow traveller for a while.”
Turing was, in the long run, more influential on his life’s course. Gandy inherited all of Turing’s mathematical books and papers on his death in 1954 and then carried forward part of his intellectual tradition, especially by becoming a pre-eminent figure in the renewal of mathematical logic and moving rapidly away from his radical past.
After being lecturer in applied mathematics at Leicester University College, and for a short while at Leeds, he moved to Manchester, creating joint schools of mathematics and philosophy. From 1967, he was Professor there and then left for a Readership at Oxford’s WolfsonCollege in 1969, where he remained in eminence until his death on 20th November 1995.