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Sunday, 16 January 2022

Corona Four-Bank Portable Typewriter Stars in 'Mrs Wilson"

We watched the three-part BBC TV series Mrs Wilson on the weekend and were spellbound by it. Gripping stuff, with loads and loads of lovely typewriters (the star turn belongs to a black Corona four-bank, but in war-time government offices there are lines of Imperial standards, and rightly so). Mrs Wilson is a 2018 British historical drama, executive-produced by and starring Ruth Wilson, who plays her own grandmother, Alison Wilson.

Alison is a widow who uncovers the mysterious and secret life of her late husband, Alexander Joseph Patrick Wilson (1893-1963). Alex Wilson was an English writer, spy and MI6 officer. He wrote novels under the names Alexander Wilson, Geoffrey Spencer, Gregory Wilson and Michael Chesney. After his death, his family discovered that he had been a serial polygamist and a pathological liar. As of 2018, documents that could shed light on his activities remain classified as “sensitive” by the British Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, under section 3(4) of the Public Records Act 1958.

The series is based on Alison Wilson’s memoir Before & After, but as might be expected, in creating dramatic effect scriptwriter Anna Symon has played free and easy with the facts in the original story. This was with the apparent approval of the lead actor, Ruth Wilson. Each episode starts with the words “The following is inspired by real events”.

The series was of particular interest to me, as for the past couple of years I have been working on the biography of the man who was the real inspiration for James Bond. There are certain similarities between Alex Wilson and my man, but in my case the subject’s family has not been cooperative. That’s a shame, as I believe my man’s story knocks Alex Wilson’s into a cocked hat. He was the real deal, whereas Alex Wilson comes across as a great pretender when it came to intelligence work.


Richard P said...

Intriguing. I had not heard of the book or series.

Terry Murray said...

I hadn't heard of the series or book either, but now I'm interested in both. Thanks, Robert - and good luck with the family of the inspiration for James Bond.