May 5, 2017

Tradecraft: Ruth Wilson to Star in Miniseries About her Own Family's Spy History

This is fascinating! Deadline reports that Ruth Wilson (The Prisoner) will star in the three-part drama The Wilsons for BBC One about her own grandparents, in which she will play her grandmother, Alison Wilson. When Alison's husband, Alec, dies suddenly, she discovers that she wasn't his only wife. It turns out that he had several wives and several families! And that he was a spy for MI6 in the years between WWI and WWII. I'm honestly quite surprised I've never heard of Alexander Wilson, because not only was he a contemporary of Sidney Reilly's as a British agent, but he was a prolific and apparently popular spy novelist! Writer Tim Crook published a biography of him in 2010, The Secret Lives Of A Secret Agent: The Mysterious Life and Times of Alexander Wilson, and that led to a rediscovery of his fiction, which has been rediscovered and reissued in recent years. Based on his own experiences, his "Wallace of the Secret Service" series spanned nine volumes between 1928 and 1940 (beginning with The Mystery of Tunnel 51) and is said by some to be a precursor to the James Bond books because of the 007/M-like relationship between the Wilson-like field agent and a spymaster who closely resembled real-life C, Sir Mansfield Cumming. (Of course all spy fiction is discussed today in relation to James Bond!) I really am shocked that I've never come across his books, because I've explored a lot of spy fiction from that era and read a lot about Cumming. I will need to make up for this post-haste! The Wilsons will be set in 1940s and 1960s London, and 1930s India.

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