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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sir Angus Frank Johnstone Wilson, CBE (11 August 1913 – 31 May 1991) was an English novelist and short story writer. He was awarded the 1958 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for The Middle Age of Mrs Eliot and later received a knighthood for his services to literature.



Wilson was born in Bexhill, Sussex, England, to an English father and South African mother. He was educated at Westminster School and Merton College, Oxford, and in 1937 became a librarian in the British Museum's Department of Printed Books, working on the new General Catalogue. During World War II, he worked in the Naval section Hut 8 at the code-breaking establishment, Bletchley Park, translating Italian Naval codes. A wearer of large, brightly-coloured bow-ties, he was one of the "famous homosexuals" at Bletchley. The work situation was stressful and led to a nervous breakdown, for which he was treated by Rolf-Werner Kosterlitz. He returned to the Museum after the end of the War, and it was there that he met Tony Garrett (born 1929), who was to be his companion for the rest of his life.

Wilson's first publication was a collection of short stories, The Wrong Set (1949), followed quickly by the daring novel Hemlock and After, which was a great success, prompting invitations to lecture in Europe. He worked as a reviewer, and in 1955 he resigned from the British Museum to write full-time (although his financial situation did not justify doing so) and moved to Suffolk. From 1957 he gave lectures further afield, in Japan, Switzerland, Australia, and the USA. He was awarded a CBE in 1968, and received many literary honours in succeeding years. A knighthood was granted in 1980, prompting many hostile comments in the press. Remaining years were spent battling ill health.

His writing, which has a strongly satirical vein, expresses his concern with preserving a liberal humanistic outlook in the face of fashionable doctrinaire temptations. Several of his works were adapted for television. He jointly helped to establish the now renowned creative writing course at the University of East Anglia.




Short story collections


  • The Mulberry Bush (1955)


  • For Whom the Cloche Tolls: a Scrapbook of the Twenties (1953)
  • The Wild Garden or Speaking of Writing (1963)
  • The World of Charles Dickens (1970)
  • The Naughty Nineties (1976)
  • The Strange Ride of Rudyard Kipling: His Life and Works (1977)
  • Diversity and Depth in Fiction: Selected Critical Writings of Angus Wilson (1983)
  • Reflections In A Writer's Eye: travel pieces by Angus Wilson (1986)


  • Angus Wilson: A Biography by Margaret Drabble (1995, Secker & Warburg, London) ISBN 0436 20038 4 or ISBN 0436 20271 9 (paperback)
  • Angus Wilson: A Bibliography 1947-1987 by J.H. Snape & Anne N. Thomas (1988, Mansell Publishing, London & New York)

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Sir Angus Frank Johnstone Wilson, CBE (1913-08-111991-05-31) was an English novelist, short-story writer, biographer and critic.


  • The opportunities for heroism are limited in this kind of world: the most people can do is sometimes not to be as weak as they’ve been at other times.
    • Malcolm Cowley (ed.) Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, First Series (New York: Viking Press, [1958] 1959) p. 261.
  • The impulse to write a novel comes from a momentary unified vision of life.
    • The Wild Garden (London: Secker & Warburg, 1963) p. 149.
  • People are able to live with only half a heart, to live without real compassion, because they are able to use words that are only forms.
    • Interviewed in Iona Review no. 3 (Fall 1972).


  • His fiction – radical, satirical, polyvalent, sexually courageous, global – extended the mainstream novel, and led it somewhere else. Still not fully recognized, he was one of Britain's greatest late-twentieth-century writers.

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