Aged nineteen, Alison McKelvie was a self-confessed romantic, immersed in books and poetry, and dreaming of beauty, truth and love. In 1940, whilst working as a secretary at MI6, Alison met Alexander Wilson. Thirty years her senior, Alexander was worldly and charismatic. An intense affair quickly led to marriage and two children. But the Wilsons’ lives then spiralled into the depths of poverty. Alexander was sacked, imprisoned twice, and then declared bankrupt. His lack of reliability was a hefty emotional burden for Alison to bear. Nevertheless, she loved her husband unreservedly and stuck by him through thick and thin.
In 1963, Alexander died suddenly of a heart attack. Alison’s world imploded when she discovered that their life together had been built upon layer after layer of deception. Who was Alexander Wilson? How well had Alison really known him? Slowly the lies were unravelled: Alexander had been a novelist, spy and, devastatingly, a bigamist. Alison was the third of four wives, her children two of seven.
The inspiration for critically acclaimed BBC drama Mrs Wilson, Before & After is the powerful and poignant memoir of Alison Wilson. ‘Before’ peels back the complex layers of a marriage steeped in lies, and the shattering heartbreak which followed. ‘After’ tells of an intensely-felt redemption through religion. Before & After is, first and foremost, a love story, but it is also an account of one extraordinarily strong woman’s deep, unwavering faith.