The Secret Lives of a Secret Agent: The Mysterious Life and Times of Alexander Wilson Second Edition

Crook, Tim. 2018. The Secret Lives of a Secret Agent: The Mysterious Life and Times of Alexander Wilson Second Edition. Essex, England: Kultura Press 2nd Revised edition. ISBN 978-1908842060 [Book]

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Abstract or Description

The Second World War Chief of MI6 said Alexander Wilson had 'remarkable gifts as a writer of fiction, and no sense of responsibility in using them!' Wilson's three year career in the Secret Intelligence Service ended when the country's spy chiefs decided his creativity got the better of his grasp of reality. His 'secret lives' extended to his private life. Four wives and four families; not necessarily one after the other. In this second Edition Tim Crook unravels more of the mysteries of this extraordinary story. The first edition of his biography is the foundation of the BBC drama series 'Mrs Wilson' produced by and starring his award-winning granddaughter Ruth Wilson. It is eight years since Tim first told the story of the life and times of the father of his friend Mike Shannon. In the spring of 1941 Mike was only 7 years old when he said goodbye to his father, Alexander Wilson, dressed as a lieutenant colonel in the Indian Army. As the steam train pulled away from the Yorkshire railway station platform that would be the last time he ever saw him. More than six decades later Tim Crook would help unlock the secrets of his father's life. The biography was published in October 2010 shortly before Mike passed away. Not only had he learned that his father had worked for MI6 during the Second World War, but that he had been one of the leading spy, crime and romance authors of the 1920s and 30s. At first he seemed to be a man with no beginning and no end. There was no record of his death in action in the North African desert, and there was no record of his birth in the identity his father had put on his son's birth certificate. Mike would have to come to terms with the fact that his father had faked his own death, had lived double, triple and quadruple lives. He would be revealed as a multiple bigamist, but at the same time also a celebrated and successful author. Details of crimes and imprisonment would be mixed with the discovery of relatives and a new family he had no idea existed. The second edition includes more revelations about Wilson's work in MI6, where his talent for invention is said to have done more harm than good, his role as a university chief in British India where he enjoyed great success despite getting the job with a fake CV, and more spy novels under a pseudonym that indicates that he must have loved the son he abandoned. Fabulist and multiple bigamist, or patriotic author whose imagination blurred the lines between truth and fantasy? The new edition gives focus to the four remarkable women in his life. Wilson created a chief of a fictional British Secret Service, Sir Leonard Wallace, who appears substantially based on the first real 'C' of MI6, Captain Mansfield Smith-Cumming. The story involves the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, the Security Service, MI5, and two World Wars. It is a story of love, betrayal, broken hearts, terrorism, patriotism, and a triumph of human dignity on the part of the women and children in his life.

Item Type:

Book

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies

Date:

30 November 2018

Item ID:

25164

Date Deposited:

04 Dec 2018 17:03

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 17:00

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/25164

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