Wilson, John 1951- (John Alexander Wilson)
Wilson, John 1951- (John Alexander Wilson)
Born August 2, 1951, in Edinburgh, Scotland; son of James Annan (an engineer) and Evelyn Victoria Marguerite Wilson; married July 26, 1975; wife's name Jenifer Mary (a family therapist); children: Sarah, Fiona, Iain. Education: University of St. Andrews, B.Sc. (geology; with honours), 1975.
Alberta Geological Survey, Alberta, Canada, research geologist, 1979-89; freelance writer, beginning 1989; Malaspina University College, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada, instructor in writing, 1991—.
Writer's Union of Canada, Children's Book Centre, Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers, Children's Writers and Illustrators of British Columbia.
British Columbia Arts Council grants, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003; British Columbia Book Prize Honour Book designation, 1997, 2004, 2006; Geoffrey Bilson Prize shortlist, 1998, 2006; Canada Council for the Arts grant, 2001, 2005; New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age designation, 2001, 2004; Norma Fleck Award shortlist, 2002, 2004; Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award shortlist, 2004, 2006; White Pine Award shortlist, 2004; Hackamatack Award shortlist, 2004; Chocolate Lily Award shortlist, 2005; Stellar Award shortlist, 2005; numerous poetry, photography, and short fiction awards.
Weet Trilogy (includes "Weet," "Weet's Quest," and "Weet Alone"), illustrated by Janice Armstrong, Napoleon Publishing (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1995.
Across Frozen Seas, Beach Holme (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1997.
Lost in Spain, Fitzhenry & Whiteside (Markham, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
Ghosts of James Bay, Beach Holme (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2001.
Adrift in Time, Ronsdale Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2003.
And in the Morning, Kids Can Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
Flames of the Tiger, Kids Can Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
The Flags of War, Kids Can Press (Tonawanda, NY), 2004.
Battle Scars, Kids Can Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.
Four Steps to Death, Kids Can Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2005.
Red Goodwin, Ronsdale Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2006.
Where Soldiers Lie, Key Porter Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2006.
The Alchemist's Dream, Key Porter Books (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2007.
Norman Bethune: A Life of Passionate Conviction, XYZ Publishing (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1999.
Righting Wrongs: The Story of Norman Bethune, illustrated by Liz Milkau, Napoleon Publishing (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2001.
John Franklin: Traveller on Undiscovered Seas, XYZ Publishing (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2001.
Dancing Elephants and Floating Continents: The Story of Canada beneath Your Feet, Key Porter (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
North with Franklin: The Lost Journals of James Fitzjames (fiction), Fitzhenry & Whiteside (Allston, MA), 1999.
Contributor of stories, poetry, essays, articles and reviews to periodicals, including Chicadee, Western Living, Today's Parent, Dugout, Pacific Way, Sky, Silver Kris, Island Parent, Alberta Report, Prospectors and Developers, Scanorama, Discovery, Punch Digest, Toronto Globe and Mail, Naniamo, Essence, Meridian, Quarter Moon Quarterly, Canadian Author, Branch Line, Calgary Cosmopolitan, Quill & Quire, Victoria Times-Colonist, and Canadian. Contributor of columns to Nanaimo and Meridian, all 1993-94. Also author of technical papers and books.
Author's work has been translated into French.
John Wilson told SATA: "When I was a nine-year-old boy, busily growing up in post-Second-World War Scotland, my heroes were fighter pilots sending Messerschmitts to a flaming doom, commandoes silently knifing Nazi guards, and spies being brutally tortured by the Gestapo….
"Many major publishing houses … worked hard to replace the adventure/war books I used to crave with kinder, gentler, character-driven stories. True, some dealt with difficult problems—growing up gay, living on the street, family breakup—but they were real-life dilemmas facing real children in our modern world. They didn't encourage violence in boys….
"[Eventually I found myself in the local library, looking for books at the appropriate reading level for my own son.] Try it sometime; it's a sobering exercise. Assume that a seven-or eight-year-old boy is reading at his age level or a little above and that he needs an exciting story to hold his interest…. There are some, but you will be able to take them home in a good-sized book bag. You will need a pickup truck for the books that will appeal to a girl of the same age and reading level….
"Raising two girls does nothing to prepare one for raising a boy. Boys are not the failed girls that our school system would sometimes like to view them as. They are different. Their bodies are different and their brains are different. They act, react, and learn differently from girls. And they need to read different books.
"So, what makes a good book for boys? At the simplest level, a whole bunch of dead guys….
"A dead guy in the first sentence is good because it captures the reader's attention and that is the second thing a book for boys must do, draw them in quickly. Boys live in an immediate world that requires instant gratification. They won't read fifty pages of background—the thrills have to be there, or at least promised, up front.
"And the thrills have to keep coming….
"What doesn't get in the way of a boys' story is a detailed description of a neat weapon. Boys like to know how things work. They will happily read a description of a World War II Tiger tank that comes directly from Herr Krupp's owner's manual. How thick was its armour plating? What size of shell could it stop? How fast could it go? Where did the crew sit? What calibre was the machine gun in the turret? What happened to the crew if a shell got through the armour plating?…
"Several of my novels—including And in the Morning, Flames of the Tiger, Battle Scars, and Four Steps to Death—are war stories. They are set in different wars, but all involve boys who get caught up in the violence and horror. There are a lot of dead guys in them and a lot of descriptions of weapons, but they are not there for salacious entertainment and so that I can get a bigger royalty cheque. Okay, partly they are, but the main reason stems from something I learned talking to boys on book tours. War is cool. It was cool when Agamemnon attacked Troy, when the crusaders besieged Jerusalem, and when Germany invaded Belgium, and it is cool now. Why else do young men flock to fight?
"When the Americans were invading Iraq, it was a tough time to be a boy. An Abrams M1 battle tank with a 120-mm cannon featuring a DRS Technologies
[Image not available for copyright reasons]
second-generation GEN II TIS thermal-imaging gunner's sight, steel-encased depleted uranium armour, 12. 7-mm Browning M2 machine gun, and an L8A1 six-barreled smoke grenade discharger fitted on each side of the turret is unutterably cool to a twelve-year-old boy. He could see them on television and yet he was being told that the war was wrong. Perhaps his parents were going on peace marches. There was a conflict there. He could handle it by only talking tanks to his buddies and peace marches to his parents, but it couldn't be resolved—unless there was a safe place to talk about both aspects of war.
"That place is the past. The past is safe and a modern reader can get caught up in the thrill and learn that other boys have felt as he does without adult censure. In And in the Morning, for example, a boy in 1914 is swept up in the enthusiasm for war and can't wait to join up and fight. He sees war as a huge, exciting adventure.
"Of course, there's a danger here. If a book relates to a boy's attraction to war, it must also portray the other side—the rats, the rotting corpses, the terror of life in the trenches—in at least an equally convincing way. It must be graphic and many people are not comfortable with that.
"I once had a manuscript rejected as ‘too grim.’ Given that ‘too grim’ is an oxymoron to a twelve-year-old boy, let us assume the publisher was right. Let's take out all the graphic bits in And in the Morning. What's left? A book that says war is an exciting adventure but fails to point out that soldiers die horribly. Is this a perspective we want to encourage?
"George Santayana's observation that we will relive the past that we do not remember is particularly applicable to boys and violence. Pretending that boys do not feel an attraction to violence is only sweeping the problem under the rug. Ignoring the attraction doesn't make it go away, despite the warm, comfortable feeling we adults get every time a ‘problem’ book that deals with difficult issues we feel kids should know about wins a major literary award. We have to acknowledge the things that boys are interested in, even if we would rather they weren't. Only by doing that will we get their attention. Only by getting their attention can we get them to read. Only then can we make a larger point about the kind of world we would like them to create when they grow up."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, March 15, 2003, Connie Fletcher, review of And in the Morning, p. 1319.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 2003, review of And in the Morning, p. 337.
Canadian Review of Materials, May 12, 2000, review of Norman Bethune: A Life of Passionate Conviction; June 8, 2001, review of Lost in Spain; November 2, 2001, review of John Franklin: Traveller on Undiscovered Seas; March 28, 2003, review of And in the Morning; September 5, 2003, review of Flames of the Tiger;
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2005, review of Battle Scars, p. 237.
Resources Links, June, 2005, Susan Miller, review of Battle Scars, p. 35; December, 2005, Philip Mills, review of Four Steps to Death, p. 39; June, 2006, Victoria Pennell, review of Red Goodwin, p. 30.
School Library Journal, December, 2000, Leah J. Sparks, review of Lost in Spain, p. 151; June, 2003, review of And in the Morning, p. 152; February, 2005, Christina Stenson-Carey, review of The Flags of War, p. 142; February, 2006, Christina Stenson-Carey, review of Four Steps to Death, p. 139.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2001, review of Lost in Spain, p. 47; April, 2005, Julie Watkins, review of The Flags of War, p. 52; February, 2006, Delia Culberson, review of Four Steps to Death, p. 494.
(b. Applethwaite, Westmorland, England, 6 August 1741; d. Kendal, Westmorland, 18 October 1793)
Wilson was educated at Kendal and at Peter-house, Cambridge, where in the mathematical tripos of 1761 he was senior wrangler. He was elected a fellow of Peterhouse in 1764 and a fellow of the Royal Society in 1782. As an undergraduate he attracted notice in the university by his defense of Waring, then Lucasian professor of mathematics, against adverse criticism of the latter’s Miscellanea analytica (1762).
As a private tutor at Cambridge, Wilson had a high reputation; but after a short period of teaching, he was called to the bar in 1766 and acquired a considerable practice on the northern circuit. In 1786 he was raised to the bench of the Court of Common Pleas; later he served for a short time as one of the commissioners for the great seal, between the retirement of Lord Edward Thurlow from the office of lord chancellor and the appointment of Lord Loughborough.
Wilson’s name is given to the theorem that if p is a prime number, then 1 + (p–1)! is divisible by p. The first published statement of the theorem was by Waring in his Meditationes algebraicae (1770), although manuscripts in the Hannover Library show that the result had been found by Leibniz. Waring ascribed the theorem to Wilson but did not prove it; the first published proof was given by Lagrange (1773), who provided a direct proof from which Fermat’s theorem (1640), first proved by Euler in 1736, can be deduced: If p is a prime and a is not divisible by p, then ap-1–1 is divisible by p. Lagrange also showed that Wilson’s theorem can be deduced from Fermat’s theorem, and that the converse of Wilson’s theorem is true: if n divides 1+(n – 1)!, then n is a prime.
In a series of letters exchanged between Sir Frederick Pollock and Augustus De Morgan, published by W. W. Rouse Ball, Pollack describod the mathematical work done at Cambridge in the first decade of the nineteenth century, and asserted that Wilson’s theorem was a guess that neither he nor Waring could prove.
Wilson’s result has been generalized to provide a series of theorems relating to the symmetric functions of the integers 1, 2, . . ., p -1, and in other ways. The history of the theorem and its generalizations is given in detail by L. E. Dickson.
For Wilson’s life, see Dictionary of National Biography, XXI, p. 578; and Atkinson, Worthies of Westmor-land, II(London, 1850); for personal details, Augustus De Morgan, Budget of Paradoxes, 2nd ed. (Chicago-London, 1915); W. W. Rouse Ball, A History of the Study of Mathematics at Cambridge (Cambridge, 1889).
For Wilson’s theorem, see the following, listed chronologically: E. Waring, Meditationes algebraicae (Cambridge, 1770); J. L. Lagrange, in Nouveaux mémoires de l’ Académie de Berlin (1773); and L. E. Dickson, History of the Theory of Numbers, I(repr. New York, 1934), ch. 3.
T. A. A. Broadbent
Wilson, John, English lutenist, singer, and composer; b. Faversham, Kent, April 5, 1595; d. London, Feb. 22, 1674. He was musically gifted, and at the age of 19 wrote music for The Maske of Flowers. According to some indications, he participated as a singer in a production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing (as Jacke Wilson). In 1635 he was made one of the King’s Musicians. He was in favor with Charles I, whom he followed to Oxford during the civil war in 1644, and was made a D.Mus. by Oxford Univ. on March 10, 1644; he was “Musick Professor” there from 1656 until 1661. Upon the Restoration he resumed his post at court, and on Oct. 22, 1662, became the successor of Henry Lawes as a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal. He publ. Psalterium Carolinum: The Devotions of His Sacred Majestie for 3 Voices and Basso Continuo (London, 1657) and Cheerfull Ayres or Ballads… for 3 Voices and Basso Continuo (Oxford, 1660) as well as numerous songs in contemporary collections.
H. Henderson, The Vocal Music of J. W. (diss., Univ. of N.C., 1962).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire
John Wilson, pseud. Christopher North, 1785–1854, Scottish author. Among the first contributors to Blackwood's Magazine, he joined the staff in 1817 and quickly became one of its chief critical writers. His Tory sympathies gained him the chair of moral philosophy (1820–51) at the Univ. of Edinburgh. His best-known work is in the Noctes Ambrosianae, an occasional discursive feature of Blackwood's to which he contributed the majority of the articles.
See memoir by his daughter, Mary Gordon (1863).