John Kirk Wilson was born October 7, 1912 in Kokomo, Indiana. His parents were John Edward Wilson and Maude Annetta Kirk. His parents were married on June 30, 1908. According to the family custom, the mother's maiden name became the son's middle name. His father was a dentist with offices at 610 Armstrong Street in the Landon Building. They lived at 503 West Sycamore, Kokomo, in Howard County, Indiana.
He completed four years of high school and graduated in June of 1930. He did not attend college. It is unknown where he studied art.
In 1938 he moved to Westchester, New York, which was a popular community for professional illustrators at that time.
His first assignments were interior black and white story illustrations for Redbook and Liberty Magazine. He signed all of his published illustrations with only his middle and last name, "Kirk Wilson."
He married in 1940, but his wife's name and their family life are not known.
He served as a private in the U.S. Army during World War Two.
After the war he sold freelance pulp covers to Giant Western, Golden West Romances, Popular Western, Ranch Romances, Thrilling Ranch Stories, and West.
In the 1950s he worked for paperback book publishers Avon and Popular Library.
According to Piet Schreuders in Paperback, U.S.A., "Rudolph Belarski's style was completely new for paperbacks and was quickly imitated. George Rozen, Kirk Wilson, Sam Cherry and others did covers for Popular Library on which Belarski's influence can be clearly seen."
In the 1960s he produced interior story illustrations for mens's adventure magazines, such as Man's World.
Kirk Wilson died in Manhattan at the age of fifty-nine in November 22, 1971.
© David Saunders 2009