Alison Wilson (nee McKelvie) was born in 1920 and raised in Cumbria. She moved to London during the war, where she worked as a secretary in the Intelligence Service. In 1963, Alison converted to Catholicism and studied Catholic theology at Heythrop College, Oxford, gaining the STL (Licenciate in Sacred Theology) and Bachelor of Divinity, the first laywoman to have done so in England. She combined her devotional life with her role as mother, grandmother and great-grandmother to an ever-growing family, and lived her latter years in Addlestone, Surrey, where she died aged 84.
She wrote the story of her life in 1986, and disclosed the first half to her sons in 1992, having kept its secrets for thirty years. The second half was discovered only after Alison's death in 2005. Her story was the basis of the three-part drama, Mrs Wilson, in which the role of Alison was played by her granddaughter, actress Ruth Wilson.