The Secret Lives Of A Secret Agent: The Mysterious Life and Times of Alexander Wilson by Tim Crook [Illustrated Paperback] 685 pages, ISBN-13 978-0954289980 (First Edition), Language: English. Intelligence & family history, literary biography. 29.99.

First Edition is SOLD OUT. Second Revised Edition is expected to be published in 2017. ISBN-13 978-1908842060


About the Revised Second Edition

More revelations about the intelligence officer and spy author Alexander Wilson in a second edition: his work in MI6, his role as a university chief in British India, and more spy novels under another pseudonym. Fabulist and multiple bigamist, or patriotic author whose imagination blurred the lines between truth and fantasy?

It is five years since Tim Crook first told the story of how he sought to investigate 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 had existed.

The second edition includes more revelations about Wilson's work in MI6 between 1939 and 1942, 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 bearing the forenames of the son he abandoned.

Wilson was a writer whose style bridged that of John Buchan, Somerset Maugham, Eric Ambler, Ian Fleming, Graham Greene and John Le Carre. But disappeared without trace after 1940. Wilson encoded real life spying and 'The Great Game' of intelligence into his novels. He 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 investigation changed lives and revealed the career of an intelligence officer and espionage writer whose journey spanned the globe. The story involves the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, the Security Service, MI5, Indian Political Intelligence and its Bureau in New Delhi during the British Empire, and two World Wars. In the mysterious life and times of Alexander Wilson we encounter Winston Churchill, Lawrence of Arabia, Hitler's foreign minister, Joachim Ribbentrop, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin and Mahatma Gandhi. 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. In "Wallace Intervenes" Alexander Wilson wrote 'nothing can be underhand that is performed in the service of country'. The implications of that maxim for his surviving family are unimaginable.


Links to articles about the First Edition:

Story coverage in The Independent, 8th October 2010

Coverage in London Evening Standard

Coverage in East London Lines



The author Tim Crook reads the first part of the first chapter of his biography of the spy and author Alexander Wilson "The Secret Lives Of A Secret Agent: The Life and Times of Alexander Wilson," published by Kultura Press in October 2010. 13 minutes 14 seconds.




About the Author

Tim Crook is an award-winning journalist, author and academic based at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has written several books on journalism, radio and media law and researches spy writing and the rituals and practices of espionage.



front and back covers


Two of Alexander Wilson's sons, Dennis Wilson and Mike Shannon, had been unaware of each other's existence for 74 years and met each other for the first time in 2007 and discovered that they were both poets. Kultura Press has published their work:

The Poetry of a Marriage by Dennis B. Wilson

Upside Down by Mike Shannon