Talk:P. C. Wren

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'See also' section: a selection of historical and genre novelists? But this would better handled by creating categories and tagging related pages. Charles Matthews 17:12, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

Oxford MA[edit]

You don't graduate from Oxford with an MA. It is not an earned degree. If you pay your dues for a stated period after your first degree (normally a BA), you become an MA, which makes you eligible to vote in various matters affecting the University.

Does St. Catherine's College not keep a record of undergraduates' dates of arrival and departure? This would confirm the issue of the 3-year interval between school and university (if there was one), which is the likeliest time that he would have served in the legion, or otherwise met legionnaires on his travels in Morocco and Algeria (if they ever happened). A bit of light in the darkness, at least. Valetude (talk) 12:51, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

Precise dates of birth and death[edit]

I have notes I made years ago that give his date of death as either 22 or 23 November 1941, but I no longer have the sources, unfortunately. This , this and this all say it happened on 23 November. Spanish Wikipedia, of all places, has him dying on 22 November. I'm more inclined to believe the English-language sources (call me xenophobic if you like), except that this tells us his obituary appeared in the Times on 24 November 1941. I wonder if less than a day between death and obituary, of a minor writer, in war-time, is feasible. -- JackofOz (talk) 06:25, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

I have just looked up the Times obituary you mentioned. That was published on the Monday and says his death occurred on the preceding Saturday, which was therefore the 22nd. MidlandLinda (talk) 21:29, 2 October 2009 (UTC)
Thank you very much. Now, does anyone know his date of birth? I've looked in vain. Does it appear in the Times obituary? -- JackofOz (talk) 21:41, 2 October 2009 (UTC)
The Times obituary doesn't but the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography does. 1st November 1875. It also gives the date of his marriage to Alice Shovelier as 23rd December 1899. And it says much of the information in the obit. was a misleading tale he put out about himself. Since I haven't worked out how to put a citation into a Wiki entry correctly I've copied and pasted the citation provided by the DNB below for you to use.

Oxford DNB H. F. Oxbury, ‘Wren, Percival Christopher (1875–1941)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2006 accessed 5 Oct 2009 MidlandLinda (talk) 14:46, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Excellent, thank you MidlandLinda. -- JackofOz (talk) 07:51, 6 October 2009 (UTC)

Possible legion service[edit]

If he was publishing fiction about the Legion as early as 1914, then presumably his service (if it happened) would have been before that date. The possible 1917 enlistment seems unlikely, since he had already been invalided out of the Indian Army (tropical disease?), and his health appears to have failed from about this time. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:14, 12 March 2009 (UTC)

The recently-added mention of his 3-year interval between school and university seems to provide a significant clue as to when he might have seen service with the Legion. (talk) 12:01, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

Information from Times obituary.[edit]

The obituary in the Times, 24th Nov 41, differs in several details from what is in the entry here. His birth place is given as Burroughs Court, Devon. After graduation he apparently worked in many areas including journalist, schoolmaster, farm labourer and costermonger. It is at this time he served in the cavalry and may have been a member of the Foreign Legion. Then he joined the Indian Education Service.

He served with the Indian Army in East Africa until he was invalided out in 1917 with the rank of Major. He was a direct descendent of Matthew, the brother of Sir Christopher Wren. He left a widow when he died.

I haven't sussed out how to do citations properly yet, so I'm hoping someone else can incorporate this information into the entry. MidlandLinda (talk) 21:43, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

After reading the entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, I now discover that much of that information about his birthplace, work and decent from Sir Christopher Wren was a misleading tale put about by Wren himself. MidlandLinda (talk) 14:50, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Mystery of the Ribbon[edit]

In the photograph of Wren in uniform there are several military ribbons on his chest. Some of these would be campaign ribbons, telling where he served and when, which would help in his biographical data. The ribbons are a little blurred in the photograph so perhaps someone with a computer program to clear up their image could find out what ribbons they are. (talk) 19:16, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

Some of those medals may have been awarded by the Indian Civil Service. Valetude (talk) 12:13, 25 November 2017 (UTC)


I have added a couple of sentences concerning Richard Alan Graham-Smith, Wren's stepson, whom I knew personally as my "step-grandfather". His inclusion is very important as he was for many years the sole administrator of Wren's estate and much closer to him in his later years than his natural son, whom I don't believe he even actually met. I feel Alan would have been able to fill in many of the gaps in our knowledge about the highly secretive Wren, including the truth about his Legion service, which Alan was absolutely adamant did take place. If I am able to gather further information from others that knew Alan, I will of course add it to the page. Philip Fairweather (talk) 18:17, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

Good. I hope you may be able to shed light on the statement of the Historical and Information Service of the Foreign Legion that he obtained his information from a legionnaire discharged in 1922, when he was writing high-quality fiction about the Legion as early as 1914. Valetude (talk) 00:03, 18 October 2015 (UTC)

Some thoughts on Legion service[edit]

"The Historical and Information Service of the Foreign Legion hold no record of service by anyone of Wren's name and have stated their belief that he obtained his information from a legionnaire discharged in 1922."

It's not surprising that there is no record of anyone by Wren's name. If he served in the Legion he would almost certainly have used a false name. But why would the Historical and Information Service say that he obtained his information from a legionnaire discharged in 1922? Is this based on details of service conditions mentioned in the books? Or is this a way of hinting that he did serve under an assumed name, but they feel an obligation not to confirm it?

Someone who was discharged in 1922 would have joined in 1917, so this would fit in with Wren's known service in the British Army ending in October 1915. Green Wyvern (talk) 07:08, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

But at that rate, how could he have been writing authentic fiction about life in the legion as early as 1914? And what about the evidence that seems to suggest that his health had failed from about this time? Valetude (talk) 12:21, 23 September 2013 (UTC)