Peter Maurice Wright (9 August 1916—27 April 1995) was an English scientist and former MI5 counterintelligence officer, noted for writing the controversial book Spycatcher, (ISBN 0-670-82055-5), which became an international bestseller with sales of over two million copies. Spycatcher was part memoir, part exposé of what Wright claimed were serious institutional failings in MI5 and his subsequent investigations into those. He was a friend of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton.
Peter Wright was born in 26 Cromwell Road, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, the son of (George) Maurice Wright, who was the Marconi Company's director of research, and one of the founders of signals intelligence during World War I. It was said that he arrived prematurely because of shock to his mother, Lous Dorothy, née Norburn, caused by a nearby Zeppelin raid. Peter was a sickly child; he stammered, suffered from rickets, and wore leg irons almost into his teens. Raised in Chelmsford, Essex, he attended Bishop's Stortford College until 1931, where he was an excellent student. He then worked for a while as a farm labourer in Scotland before joining the School of Rural Economy at Oxford University in 1938. On 16 September 1938, he married Lois Elizabeth Foster-Melliar (b. 1914/15), with whom he had two daughters and a son. Despite showing an early aptitude for wireless work, during the Great Depression Peter Wright was obliged to get work as a farm labourer to help make ends meet. He did study for one year at Oxford University, but was obliged to leave since his father had been laid off and could not find a new job.
During World War II, however, he joined the Admiralty's Research Laboratory. After the war, Wright joined Marconi's research department and, according to Spycatcher, he was instrumental in resolving a difficult technical problem. The CIA sought Marconi's assistance over a covert listening device (or "bug") that had been found in a replica of the Great Seal of the United States presented to the U.S. Ambassador in Moscow in 1945 by the Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union. Wright determined that the bugging device, dubbed The Thing, was actually a tiny capacitive membrane (a condenser microphone) that became active only when 330 MHz microwaves were beamed to it from a remote transmitter. A remote receiver could then have been used to decode the modulated microwave signal and permit sounds picked up by the microphone to be overheard. The device was eventually attributed to Soviet inventor, Léon Theremin.