The aspiration of this website is simple - to be the pre-eminent online resource on DW, his life and his works.
The history of the site
This site was started in March 2002 by the late Bob Rothwell (for an appreciation of Bob, please click here), who put online his comprehensive collection of DW paperbacks. He was very quickly contacted by one of the great collectors of DW material at that time, Richard Humphreys, and between them with some assistance from Swedish collector Iwan Hedman (formerly called Iwan Morelius) by the time of Bob’s death on Boxing Day 2006 they had recorded for the first time anywhere every known edition of DW’s works ranging from first edition hardbacks through to UK and foreign hardcover and paperback reprints. They had also put online a plethora of other information of DW interest and Bob had started a ‘chat room’ (‘The Library’) for DW aficionados to communicate with each other.
A stream of new discoveries
Work on the site has continued without ceasing since Bob’s untimely death, and new sections are started or additions made to existing sections almost every month. Discoveries announced on the site have included the discovery of the only known copy of DW’s unpublished novel ‘The Lusty Youth of Roger Brook’ in 2008, the discovery of the US version of the 1934 film of The Forbidden Territory (we are still searching for a copy of the UK version, which contains an additional 8 minutes of film), DW’s 1938 Mystery Rooms exhibition brochure for the Daily Mail, which came to light in 2011, the discovery in July 2012 of a copy of ‘Living Portraits’, the film DW made in 1967 about his life, the discovery of the typescript of DW’s final projected volume of his autobiography, most of which was cut out for publication, and the discovery of DW’s long lost War Paper ‘This Winter’ in 2018/19, and a host of other items of significance great or small. The most recent of these discoveries is the discovery of the typescript of DW’s first novel, “Julie’s Lovers”. Never published, it was written when he was a mere twenty years old and serving in France during World War One. It was part of a lot offered in one of London’s Auction Rooms in January 2020, was bought by a friend of this site, and is the subject of a special page in this site’s ‘Museum’.
While the site has been the most comprehensive account in any medium on DW’s publications from the outset, little was available online about DW himself until the construction of a ‘virtual Museum’ dedicated to DW was begun in 2009. The main Rooms were completed by 2014, although new material is added on a regular basis and ‘Special Exhibitions’ are launched from time to time – the most recent, in 2017, being a room on DW’s Library. The museum currently contains many hundreds of exhibits, almost none of which have been available before for public view, as although some material has come from Museums and University Libraries, most remains in private hands.
This Museum is intended to be an accompaniment to Phil Baker’s excellent biography of DW (first published in 2009), to DW’s own autobiographical volumes, and the various other works that have been published about him, and is now undisputedly the most significant collation of ‘source material’ generally available on which academics, other researchers and enthusiasts can draw to study DW’s life. The Wheatley family’s warm support for the venture as I created it is deeply appreciated.
While I happen to draw it all together, the site is what it is thanks to all its contributors and correspondents from around the World. I regularly receive emails and letters from the UK, the continent of Europe, the USA and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and parts of the former Soviet block.
The contributors include the world’s most noted Wheatley collectors (few in number but deep in material), Museums such as The Imperial War Museum, Universities such as Leeds University, with its excellent University Library’s Special Collections Department, Academics (including an Associate Professor of Modern Languages at Oxford and a former lecturer in English at Oxford). Material on the site has also been cited academically (for example by a Professor in the College of Humanities at Exeter University) and also in the media and in talks, and the site’s correspondents have included historians, a Pulitzer prize winning novelist (who has herself written an excellent e-book on DW’s time as a Deception Planner), a retired Colonel in the US Intelligence Services, and countless other aficionados and collectors, to all of whom in one way or another I am indebted.
The Chat Room : ‘The Library’
The site also acts as a focal point for announcements about talks about DW and about Field Trips and the annual DW Conventions that take place at Elstree – for more information on these see the ‘Conventions’ section of the site and ‘The Library’.
The site is archived by ‘The British Library’
Since 2011 the site has been archived by The British Library as part of its web archiving programme, which selects and then archives sites to represent aspects of UK documentary heritage with the aim of preserving them to be permanently available to researchers in the future.
My aspirations for the site
I hope you will find the site and all that it contains interesting and useful. It is my tenet – which I share with many others - that DW was one of the most unusual, interesting and noteworthy British individuals of the twentieth century. It is also my tenet that his role as one of the members of ‘The London Controlling Section’ in World War II, the top secret group of just seven people who devised the cover schemes for many of the most famous military operations in the War, including the Normandy landings, deserves further recognition, now that more information on that shadowy group is becoming available.
From being world famous DW passed into partial obscurity, but now his importance to his times is once again becoming recognised
If you enjoy the site, or if you have any information or material that you would like to share with me and/or the Wheatley community, do please contract me.
And finally …
Dennis Wheatley was a firm believer in reincarnation.
If you enjoy the site sufficiently and it inspires you, might consider at a suitable moment raising a glass of wine in the following toast :-
"To Dennis, wherever he may now be; with the hope that in his next life he will enjoy similar health happiness and good fortune as he was blessed with in his last, and that in our future lives we shall meet..."
(Extracted from Dennis Wheatley’s unpublished Will of 30th June 1971).
And when you have drunk that toast, follow it perhaps with one for Bob Rothwell and Richard Humphreys, the original founders of the site, and for Iwan Hedman.
As you will gather, Sue Rothwell asked me to take over running the site after Bob’s untimely and much lamented death. On the original website, Bob gave details of himself, which can be found below.
Under the circumstances, I guess it is inevitable people may want to know a little about the new webmaster, so putting aside my customary reticence, here goes …
I’m in my early sixties, went to one of those stuffy English boarding schools, and spent several happy years at Cambridge studying Egyptology (!). Being advised that I ought to go out and earn a living, I went into the City, and have worked there ever since, first at a banking institution, and for the last quarter century or so, in various aspects of stockbroking. Don’t ask me for any financial advice. Markets are capricious. If you want thrills, stick to Dennis Wheatley instead!
My first interest in DW came as a teenager, when I picked up one of the Arrow paperbacks (a 1964 The Prisoner in the Mask) and I’ve been hooked ever since – particularly on the de Richleau and Black Magic stories. As a teenager I once wrote to DW, and am delighted to say I received a charming letter back. Needless to say, I still have it.
My collecting began in the late seventies, but only really took hold in the last decade, when my other areas of collecting started to fizzle out. One of them was the works of the late Joan Grant.
I have a wife and young son and my other pursuits include Kendo (Japanese fencing) while I am up to it, and various related Chinese Arts – fine ways to let off steam.
Happy reading, happy collecting, and I hope you enjoy the site. If you have any comments, please let me know. The good bits are all Bob’s, the bad bits are all mine.
This is what Bob put on the website while he was alive :-
My name is Bob Rothwell and I live in Cambridgeshire in England with my wife Sue.
I took early-retirement having spent most of my working life in Human Resources (Personnel) but finished up in adult-education teaching Computer skills.
I keep occupied looking after my wife, who is unfortunately confined to a wheelchair, and pursuing my four hobbies – computing, cooking, the author Dennis Wheatley and the instrumental group The Shadows (they used to support Cliff Richard!).
My interest in Dennis Wheatley started when I was a teenager in the 1950s and I used to terrify myself with his tales of white magic v. black magic. I probably developed the basis of my beliefs about the ‘meaning of life’ through his writings.
I have been collecting DW's books and ephemera for many years now and although my collection of first editions is sadly lacking (due to lack of funds for the now very sought-after and expensive early novels), my collection of paperbacks is large. There are now only a few titles that I do not possess and these will become evident when you look at my paperback pages. Those of you who follow such things in the UK may remember me when I took part in the Wheatley episode of the BBC2 TV documentary ‘Clive Barker's A to Z of Horror’ in Nov 1997.
My biggest regret when I started collecting was finding out that all my mother's signed 1st editions had been given away to a local charity some years previously. However this did prevent me from having my second biggest regret when she told me that she hadn't kept any of the dust-jackets because the books looked better on the shelves without them !!! I do like the story she tells of receiving a signed photograph from DW in 1949 only to have it torn up by my father who did not appreciate his wife having pin-ups! The letter which accompanied it, however, survived and you can see it by following this link.
If you enjoy the site, please let me know ¤ If you have suggestions for improvement, please let me know ¤ If you want more information, please contact me ¤ If you want to share information, please contact me. . . . Or just let me know you're there and interested in what I'm doing!!
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Copyright © 2002-2006 Bob Rothwell. 2007-2021 Charles Beck.
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