Oswald Wynd lived from 4 July 1913 to 21 July 1998. He was born and brought up in Tokyo where his Scottish parents ran a mission. He is remembered as a novelist who sometimes wrote under the pseudonym "Gavin Black", but whose best-known work The Ginger Tree was written under his own name. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Oswald Wynd was the fourth child of Scottish parents who had gone to Japan in 1890 to serve as Baptist missionaries. Wynd grew up with dual British/Japanese nationality and was educated at the American School in Tokyo. He went with his parents to live in the United States in 1930, and then returned to Scotland with them when they retired in 1932. Oswald then attended the University of Edinburgh.
Oswald Wynd's aspirations to become a writer were interrupted by the advent of the Second World War. He joined up with the Scots Guards, and was later commissioned in the Intelligence Corps, where his ability to speak fluent Japanese was a great asset. He was sent to the Far East, and captured by the Japanese in 1941 when they overran Malaya and Singapore. Wynd's captors were initially intent on executing him for treason when they discovered he had dual nationality. Instead he was sent to the Japanese island of Hokkaido and put to work in the mines. Wynd's understanding of Japanese culture and language, and his ability to act as if he were a member of the aristocracy, were skills he put to good use on behalf of his fellow prisoners.
After the war, Wynd returned to Britain via the USA. While visiting his sisters in New York he heard that Doubleday Books were running a competition for authors of first novels. During his time as a prisoner, Wynd had written a novel called Black Fountains. He entered the competition, and won the prize of $20,000, more than enough to establish himself as a writer.
After returning to Scotland, Wynd met and married his wife, Jan Muir. They set up home together on the island of Lismore, before later moving to Crail in Fife. Wynd achieved considerable success as an author, writing thrillers under the pseudonym "Gavin Black", as well as a wider range of books under his own name. The Ginger Tree was published in 1977 and televised in 1989. Oswald Wynd died in Dundee in 1998 at the age of 85.