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Fyra Decennier med Dennis Wheatley
(Four Decades with Dennis Wheatley)

The piece below was written by this site's first webmaster Bob Rothwell, and in it he discusses how he came across Iwan Hedman and Jan Alexandersson's part-English part Swedish bibliography of Dennis Wheatley's works, which was first produced in 1963 as 'Three decades with Dennis Wheatley' and then updated and given a wider circulation as 'Four Decades...' in 1973. These volumes were the only serious attempts at a comprehensive bibliography of Dennis Wheatley's output until Richard Humphreys produced his own bibliography in 1999, which put him in contact with the first webmaster of this site, and since then the expansion and the updating has been done online.

Dennis Wheatley's own copy of the 1963 edition, 'Copy Number 1', re-surfaced in January 2020 as part of a small (but first-rate) lot of Dennis Wheatley items in a London auction room, alongside the only known copy of his first novel, 'Julie's Lovers'.

Parts of Dennis Wheatley's own copy of the 1963 edition are reproduced below along with the explanatory correspondence which was bound in with it. Dennis Wheatley's copy of the signed limited edition of 100 copies of the 1973 update was also in the 2020 lot, so that is shown below as well, although it is perhaps of less interest. For completeness I am also showing a copy of the 1973 'third edition' - one of the seventy five copies signed by the authors - to represent the full set (with the first and second editions being in physical size much larger than the 'third' edition), although the copy of the third edition shown was not Dennis Wheatley's.

It may be noted in passing that Hedman and Alexandersson told DW that they had only made three copies of the 1963 edition. According to the publication history given at the front of the third edition there were in fact four, because the authors sold a fourth copy to a Swedish bookseller who then sold it on to the Swedish collector Lars Nylander.

Above: pages from Dennis Wheatley's copy No. 1 of the 4 copies (only) of the 1963 'first edition'.

Click on the images to enlarge

Above: pages from Dennis Wheatley's copy (No. 62) of the 100 copy 1973 'second edition',
with the title updated to read 'Four Decades', ten years having passed since the first edition.

Click on the images to enlarge

Above: The third edition, also printed in 1973, but this time of 1,200 copies, of which 25 were
signed by the two authors and Dennis Wheatley, and a further 75 by the authors alone.

Click on the images to enlarge

When I first started collecting details of Wheatley’s books in the early 1990’s, I was amazed that, for such a prolific and popular author, I had to resort to scouring public libraries for any scraps of information I could find.  Looking at some of my old records recently, I came across the following list, dated 1993, of information sources I had seen or had yet to see:

  • American Book Publishing Record 1876-1981
  • Catalogue of The London Library – 3rd Supplement 1928-1950
  • British Library General Catalogue of Printed Books to 1955, 236-239
  • British Library General Catalogue of Printed Books. Supplement 1956-1965, 502-506
  • British Library General Catalogue of Printed Books. Supplement 1966-1970, 200-202
  • British Library General Catalogue of Printed Books. Supplement 1971-1975, 1841-1845
  • British National Bibliography (1950-1974)
  • British Books In Print, 1978
  • Location Register of Twentieth Century English Literary Manuscripts and Letters – The British Library, 1988, pp.1005-1006
  • Cumulative Book Index: 1933-37; 1938-42; 1943-48; 1949-52; 1953-56; 1957-58; 1959-60; 1961-62; 1963-64; 1965-66; 1965-66; 1967-68; 1969; 1971; 1972; 1974; 1975; 1978
  • Wine into Words – A History and Bibliography of Wine Books in the English Language by James M. Gabler. Baltimore: Bacchus Press Ltd. p.302
  • Contemporary Authors by Gale Research (New Revised Series – Vol 9)
  • Peterborough Central Library Database
  • The Times – 9 August 1969 (Saturday Review)
  • The Times – 12 November 1977 (Obituary)
  • Who’s Who In Authors and Writers, p.844
  • Who’s Who In Horror & Fantasy Fiction. – Elm Tree Books/Hamish Hamilton. (1977), pp.181-182
  • Who’s Who In Spy Fiction. Elm Tree Books (1977), pp.187-190
  • Twentieth Century Science Fiction Writers. – Macmillan Publishers Ltd (Journals Division) (1981), pp.578-580
  • Twentieth Century Crime & Mystery Writers – 2nd Edition – St. James Press, London (1985), pp.893-895
  • Dictionary of National Biography, 1971-1980, pp.896-897 (entry by J.G. Links)
  • The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (An illustrated A to Z), General editor – Peter Nicholls, Granada Publishing, 1979; p.652
  • Spotlight On The Bestseller – 1951 – (Aspects of commercial book production), Raymart Pictures (TV Prog.)
  • Enser’s Filmed Book & Plays, 1928-1991 – Ashgate (1993)
  • Supernatural Fiction Writers, Fantasy and Horror, Volume 2, Dennis Wheatley by Keith Neilson – pp.623-629, (Ed. E.F. Bleiler), Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York
  • Anatomy of Horror: The Masters of Occult Fiction – ‘The Devil and Dennis Wheatley’ – Glen St. John Barclay – pp.111-125. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson (1978)
  • The Murder Dossiers of Dennis Wheatley and J.G. Links – Reg Gadney – London Magazine, new series, 8 (March 1969): pp.41-51
  • Dennis Wheatley: A Biographical Sketch and Bibliography – Iwan Hedman – Armchair Detective, 2 (July 1969): pp.227-236.
  • The Way To Maintain Success – Dennis Wheatley, ‘The Writer’, Oct 1969, pp.22-24.
  • The Black Magic Books of Dennis Wheatley – David Thomas – Book and Magazine Collector, No.54 (September 1988): pp.4-11.
  • Survey of Modern Fantasy Literature, Vol.4 – Ed. Frank N. Magill – Salem Press, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. (1983): pp.383-386, 715-717, 1358-1362, 1954-1957
  • Fyra Decennier med Dennis Wheatley. En biografi & bibliografi. – Iwan Hedman & Jan Alexandersson – DAST Förlag AB, Strängnäs, Sweden (1973)

A useful list for the beginner?

The last item on the list held a fascination for me as it appeared to my untrained eye to be a publication promising a biography and bibliography, but I could find no further information at that time.

At some stage during my collecting I discovered that Dennis Wheatley’s old agents, A.P. Watts, still existed and was able to make a phone call to them.  You may imagine my surprise when, after having a very informative conversation with a Mr Condie, he mentioned that he had a signed numbered copy of ‘Fyra Decennier. . . ’, and generously insisted that I should borrow it.  What a mixture of delight and frustration awaited me when I opened the parcel.  All the information I could possibly hope for – in Swedish!!  All the more frustrating was the fact that there were parts written in English that promised more delights deeper in the book than I could possibly understand.  How many years would I have to wait for a friendly Swede who could help me unlock the hidden mysteries of this little book?  I, naturally, photocopied all the pages (sorry, Iwan and Jan) and returned the book.  I managed, a year or two later, to get my own battered copy from a second-hand bookshop.

Over a period of time I was able to work out that, in 1973, two avid fans of Dennis Wheatley, Sergeant-Major Iwan Hedman – of the Swedish Army and publisher of the Swedish DAST (Detective, Agent, Science-fiction and Thriller) magazine – and architect Jan Alexandersson, had published 1200 copies of this book which contains 16 chapters in 192 pages. I also discovered that this was an update to an earlier publication ‘Tre Decennier med Dennis Wheatley’ (1963) which was published privately with a very limited edition of four copies!

This was the first and, to date (2005), only printed bibliography published about Dennis Wheatley.  Wheatley's autobiographies are sadly lacking in this respect.

On 4 November, 2002, about 7 months after this web site had started, I received an e-mail from Spain from Iwan Morelius offering to send me photos of all the Swedish editions and a copy of a book that he had written.  It turned out this was Iwan Hedman with a change of name and living in Spain!  My wishes for a friendly Swede could not have been better answered.

Soon after forging our friendship and exchanging pages of information, I tentatively asked Iwan if he could assist me with translating the Swedish pages of his book into English for publication on the web site.  To my great delight he agreed and after many months of typing and exchanges of e-mails (and a memorable trip to Sweden where my wife and I were guests of Iwan and his dear wife Margareta!), I have at last had my ambition realised and can finally understand and fully appreciate all the hard work and dedication that went into producing ‘Fyra Decennier med Dennis Wheatley’ all those years ago.

My small part in this project was to firstly tidy up the English without losing Iwan’s unique way of imparting his information; secondly, present the English information in such a way that the original layout would not be compromised; thirdly, add some colour to the presentation by showing all the jackets in their true colours instead of black and white, and fourthly, publish the translation in such a way that Iwan and Jan’s copyright of their original publication would not be infringed.

The result – an Adobe Acrobat ‘pdf’ file published with full security features that prevent unauthorised printing or copying into other formats, and that shows, for the most part, only those pages which were not in English in the original book.

The file will be best appreciated by the collector who already owns a copy of ‘Fyra Decennier. . . ’ and can place their copy side by side with their computer.  For those collectors who have not been fortunate enough to get their own copy – now is the time to add it to your ‘I Want It Now!’ list.

After ensuring you have Acrobat Reader© or Acrobat eBook Reader© installed on your computer, you can download the file by right-clicking on the following title and choosing ‘Save Target As...’ (Internet Explorer and Opera), ‘Save Link Target As...’ (Netscape) or ‘Save Link As...’ (Mozilla). (Warning: the file is big (8.79Mb) and the approximate download time on a 56K modem is about 50mins)

Four Decades with Dennis Wheatley – a biography and bibliography
by Iwan Hedman & Jan Alexandersson

To get your own free copy of the latest version of Acrobat Reader© (which also replaces the old separate eBook Reader©)
click on the following link - Adobe Reader logo


This page last updated      Copyright © 2002-2006 Bob Rothwell. 2007-2022 Charles Beck.