alexander wilson

Alexander Wilson: The Mysterious Life of a Writer and Spy

Alexander Wilson: The Mysterious Life of a Writer and Spy

Alexander Wilson was a prolific English writer who published 24 novels in his lifetime, mostly in the genres of spy fiction and mystery. He was also a spy himself, working for MI6 and possibly other intelligence agencies. However, his life was full of secrets and lies, as he was a serial polygamist who married four times and had seven children, without ever divorcing his first wife. His complex and extraordinary life has been the subject of a BBC miniseries and a biography by Tim Crook.

Early Life and First Marriage

Alexander Joseph Patrick Wilson was born on October 24, 1893 in Dover, Kent, to Annie O’Toole and Alexander Wilson, a British Army officer. He spent his childhood in various locations around the world, following his father’s postings. He was educated at St. Joseph’s College in Hong Kong and St Boniface’s Catholic College in Plymouth. He joined the Royal Navy in 1915, but soon transferred to the Royal Army Service Corps as a second lieutenant. He received a knee injury and shrapnel wounds while serving in World War I, and was invalided out of the army in 1916. He was awarded the Silver War Badge for his service.

In March 1916, he married Gladys Kellaway, with whom he had two sons (Adrian and Dennis) and a daughter (Daphne). This was his only legal marriage, as he never divorced Gladys. He worked as a merchant marine purser, a touring repertory actor and manager, and a teacher before becoming a writer.

Second Marriage and Career as a Writer

Early Life and First Marriage

In 1925, Wilson applied for and got the position of Professor of English Literature at Islamia College, University of Punjab, Lahore. On his way to India, he met Dorothy Wick, a touring actress. He married her in Lahore in 1928, without telling her that he was already married. They had one son together, Michael Chesney Wilson (later Michael Shannon), who was born in London in 1933.

Wilson began his writing career in India, publishing his first two novels, The Mystery of Tunnel 51 and The Devil’s Cocktail, in 1928. He wrote under the names Alexander Wilson, Geoffrey Spencer, Gregory Wilson, and Michael Chesney. His novels were mostly spy thrillers and mysteries, featuring recurring characters such as Sir Leonard Wallace, the chief of the Secret Service, and Captain Hugh Shannon, a secret agent. His novels were popular and well-reviewed at the time, but have since fallen into obscurity.

Third Marriage and Career as a Spy

Second Marriage and Career as a Writer

In 1934, Wilson returned to England with Dorothy and Michael. He also resumed contact with Gladys and his children with her. However, he soon met Alison McKelvie, a secretary at MI6, where he worked as an intelligence officer. He married her in 1940, again without disclosing his previous marriages. They had two sons together: Gordon (born in 1941) and Nigel (born in 1944).

Wilson’s career as a spy is shrouded in mystery and controversy. According to his biographer Tim Crook, he may have been involved in intelligence activities since the 1920s, working for various agencies such as MI5, MI6, SIS India Section (later known as Research & Analysis Wing), Special Operations Executive (SOE), Political Warfare Executive (PWE), Naval Intelligence Division (NID), Foreign Office Research Department (FORD), Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and Inter-Services Liaison Department (ISLD). However, there is no definitive evidence or confirmation of his roles or missions.

Some of his alleged exploits include infiltrating Nazi Germany as a journalist; posing as an arms dealer in Italy; sabotaging German radio broadcasts; recruiting agents in India; writing propaganda leaflets; interrogating prisoners of war; training spies; liaising with foreign governments; and conducting counter-espionage operations.

However, he also faced accusations of theft, fraud, forgery

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