Despite the endless questions about who Alexander Wilson truly was, and why he lived the secretive, separate lives that he did, through his personal letters to his son Adrian and wife Alison, it is clear that he felt deeply connected to his loved ones. Wilson biographer Professor Tim Crook, author of The Secret Lives of a Secret Agent, provides additional insight into the context of Alec’s personal letters, and helps illustrate the innermost thoughts of the secret agent and fiction author.
“As ‘Alec’ Alexander Wilson did not keep a diary, some of the best clues to his character are to be found perhaps in his correspondence. This letter to his first son Adrian in 1937 shows introspection, love and fatherly guidance. When writing it Adrian and his first family were unaware that ‘Alec’ was living a separate and double life with second wife Dorothy and their son Michael in London. Adrian had been in the army for two years and was travelling out to British India.” — Tim Crook
Letter to Adrian
“…I am a very lonely man, Adrian, and often a very unhappy one. Life has played me some scurvy tricks and you mean far more to me than I can ever describe. When you were a little boy you always used to say you were “Daddy’s number one boy.” You still are and always will be. I hope you will not think these remarks are the sentimental outpourings of a middle-aged emotionalist. I’m neither emotional nor sentimental: merely your very devoted father, who regrets nothing so much as the fact that he has been able to accomplish so little for you. I shall not feel any happiness now until you are back with me again, but my joy and pride will be indescribable when you return, I hope before the year is out, you will be able to enter Sandhurst. There is another little wish I have. It is that you cease being quite so introspective. Let your feelings show themselves more, particularly with me. I want to be always your confidant: to feel that you confide all your perplexities, your troubles, your problems, to me. I yearn for you to have no secrets from me and never to fear to tell me anything, no matter what it may be. You will always find me understanding. I have been through the fires; made mistakes; suffered; been up against things. Let my experiences be of use to you; so avail yourself of it by letting the mantle of reserve that cloaks you fall entirely from you where I am concerned. I am very much reserved myself, which is all the more reason why you and I should be pals in every sense of the word. There are beastly, desperate pitfalls in life which you only avoid by experience: use me for all you’re worth to avail yourself of my knowledge in order to keep out of them. Will you do this?…”
“Whatever bitterness and recrimination felt by Alison Wilson and expressed so angrily in her memoir, the fact remains that her marriage with Alec lasted 22 years. This letter written only months before his death towards the end of 1962 has all the hallmarks of a passionate and deeply felt lover letter. It is evidence of devotion despite the fact by this time he has three other living wives with whom he has had five other children.” — Tim Crook
Letter to Alison
“Darling, what can I say to you? My heart is so full and there are no words which I can adequately express all I feel. First, I am so terribly sorry I have caused you so much anxiety and worry. I think, when things were as bad, I was affected most by all I saw in your face. Secondly, what can I say, from an overflowing heart, to tell what your love, your devotion, your fortitude and constancy have meant to me? I could never begin to say these things verbally to you; to find adequate expressions on paper is very difficult, but at least, neither embarrassing to you or me.
Oh Bunty, you have been so wonderful; you have done more than you can ever know to keep me going, and God can never have had more gratitude offered up to him than I pour out to him the gift of you. Our love is a marvellous thing, something to me precious beyond description. Looking back now how infinitely ridiculous our stupid quarrels seem; how completely out of character and utterly unnecessary. Forgive me for my part in them! When I love you so; when you are above everything and everybody, the one supreme person to me, disagreements are more than banal; they are – shall I say – bloody silly? And I feel a self-contempt for ever letting them occur.
All I live for now is to be back with you, and how wonderful it is to know that I am coming back to you. All along my patience has undergone a severe strain; the next week will be more than ever trying. But, at the end of it, to come back to you! To hold you in my arms; just look at you! Oh Darling!
Thank you for your great love, for your unremitting devotion; for everything!
God bless you my habib-sweety very much Habib-ullah as well,
Your always loving
Thanks to Tim Crook for his invaluable assistance in creating this feature. Crook is the author of The Secret Lives of a Secret Agent. To learn more about Tim Crook, his book, and Alexander Wilson, visit alexanderwilsonauthorandspy.com.