Wilson was born in Sale, Greater Manchester and was educated at Harrow School and Oriel College, Oxford. During the war he served in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in Great Britain, Egypt and Iraq. While at Oxford he wrote revues for the Oxford University Experimental Theatre Club and then attended the Old Vic Theatre School on a production course.
Most of his work for the stage was material for revues, such as Hermione Gingold's Slings and Arrows, Laurier Lister's Oranges and Lemons, and See You Later, starring such performers as Peter Cook. He wrote the book, music and lyrics for The Boy Friend for the Players' Theatre in 1953. Its success resulted in a longer version being produced in the West End at Wyndhams Theatre. After its opening in January 1954, over 2,000 performances were put on there. It opened on Broadway in 1954, at the Royale Theater, and introduced Julie Andrews in her Broadway debut. The show ran on Broadway for over 480 performances.
He died in Taunton, England in 2014, aged 90. He donated his papers to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. His autobiography, published in 1975, is titled I Could Be Happy.
Wilson was a member of the Labour Party.
- Caprice (1950)
- The Boy Friend (1953)
- The Buccaneer (1955)
- Valmouth (1958)
- Pieces of Eight (1959)
- Divorce Me, Darling! (1964)
- As Dorothy Parker Once Said (1969)
- His Monkey Wife (1971)
- The Clapham Wonder (1978, based on the novel The Vet's Daughter by Barbara Comyns Carr)
- Aladdin (1979)
- Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life Of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. pp. 364/5. ISBN 1-84854-195-3.
- Daniel E. Slotnik, "Sandy Wilson, Composer and Writer of ‘The Boy Friend,’ Dies at 90", New York Times, 31 August 2014
- "Sandy Wilson:A Preliminary Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center" utexas.edu, retrieved 9 March 2010
- Beck, Andy and Fisher, Brian. Broadway for Two, Alfred Music Publishing, 2007, ISBN 0-7390-4477-X, p. 82
- Gale, Steven. Encyclopedia of British Humorists: Geoffrey Chaucer to John Cleese, Volume 2, Taylor & Francis, 1996, ISBN 0-8240-5990-5, p. 1216.
- Sandy Wilson at the Internet Broadway Database
- Sandy Wilson Neglected master of the British musical
- Sandy Wilson at The Playwrights Database
- Sandy Wilson at the Canadian Women Film Directors Database