The above book is an outstanding biography, which I got for review a short time ago. It is 699 pages long, illustrated, has references and a very complete index. After reading this enormous work everyone can understand that this is a work of love. My review, unfortunately too short (shortage of space), can be read in the December-issue of our web-magazine called LÄST & HÖRT I HÄNGMATTAN (Read & Listened To In The Swingbed) 2009. After I had read the book an idea struck me. Maybe it could be of interest and some fun for other DW-fans to get a little more detail about some of the persons appearing in Phil Baker’s excellent book? I could give some details about people in the book I personally have met since my own interest in DW started such a long time ago. There are around ten persons I would like to tell about and who could have their own story. The ten persons I would like to mention here are:
|Norma P Rennie||DWs gardener|
|Dennis Wheatley||Diana Younger|
|J G Links||Bob Rothwell|
|H H Gaute||Steve Whatley|
|Anthony Wheatley||Charles Beck|
I have met, or in just one case have only exchanged letters with, will appear here in chronological order. It has been very fascinating for me, during my reading of this book, to see how these persons have been involved in the pattern over such a long period since I first met them in a way I couldn’t imagine then. If one believes in FATE
, which I sometimes think I must do, this is a good example of that. But let’s get right into the story about “My life with Dennis Wheatley.”
67 YEARS IN DENNIS WHEATLEY´S WORLD
It all started as long ago as back in 1942 when I was 11 years old and living outside Stockholm in a little place called Ursvik, where my father was chief of a military ammunition factory. Europe was right in the middle of the war and Sweden was in fact close to be involved. A new elder boy has moved in there and one day he showed me a book, which he told me “was a real thriller and had some very erotic parts”. The book was Dennis Wheatley’s The Scarlet Impostor
. Before reading this book I had read almost all the books in the school library including such authors as Jules Verne, Dumas etc. Of course there were no DW-books at all. This book was a reading success and I was sold on it after just one or two chapters. What I didn’t know then was that it should go as far as to the end of the 50th before I read my second DW-thriller.
1957, newly married and living in the town of Uppsala I met my soon-to-be brother-in-law, Jan Alexandersson. who was engaged to my wife’s sister Anita. Jan was a keen book-fan as I was and we both had nice book collections. One night he told me that one of his favourite authors was DW, who he had read many books by. We decided to start to find other books by DW and soon we had a nice collection of his books. We went to all the second-hand bookshops in Stockholm and later on in the whole of Sweden. After some years we thought we had all DW´s book in Swedish.
But by the beginning of the 60s I wanted to know more about DW´s works. How many books had he written so far? Are all translated into Swedish? So in January 1961 I wrote a letter to my favourite author Dennis with some questions. He answered very politely, but mentioned that he was a very busy man and that he could not be involved in a regular letter-writing because of that.
Today – the 28th of November 2009 – with 120 letters between us, a complete collection of all his books, both English, Swedish, Lymington, Heron and Arrow-paperbacks, all signed personally plus one special book personally dedicated to me and my wife (1971 at a lunch in his home at 60 Cadogan Square) this is history and I will now tell you some stories about people I have met (mentioned in Phil’s book) and who have been of great importance to me and my collecting his books. So, let’s start with the first person who had meant so much to me and my collecting.
Norma P Rennie
, in fact the only person I have not, so far, met in person. But we have been pen friends for many, many years and are still in touch now and then. But my brother-in-law, Jan, has met her in London and told me how nice she was and that for many years she has taken care of handicapped people.
Norma was the first person I got in contact with when writing to Hutchinson
, DW´s publisher. I asked for review copies and she was very kind to send them to me and there were a lot of them over the years. She answered most of my questions about DW and was of great help to me. Of course I asked her if she had met DW himself, but she had not, just seen him. I have a feeling that DW didn’t have any contact with the staff at Hutchinson’s. His contact was more with the directors – mostly Robert Lusty
Norma P Rennie, who then worked at Hutchinson
first person close to DW was his collaborator on the so called Murder Dossiers, J G Links
, who was an old friend of DW. They had known each other for many years when at one dinner together he suggested that they should put together a mystery in the form of a dossier. The rest is history. I myself had to go as far as to 1980 before I got the chance to meet this man, who still worked in what was his real profession. He was dealing with furs . I made contact with him and got a very nice answer back. (see below)
J.G.Links at his office where he offered a nice
I had promised to phone him when coming to London, which I did. He invited me to a lunch at his office. It was “take-away-lunch” and to that he offered a cold and good tasting white Rhein-wine, which was his favourite wine.
He told me about the thrilling, wonderful and funny time he and Dennis had when they got their Dossiers published. “They sold 100.000 copies!” he told me with a big smile when at the same time he gave me the newly reprinted Dossiers Murder off Miami
and Who Killed Robert Prentice
, almost just coming from the printers. It was very interesting to have met this so typical English gentleman, with his sober dress.
J H H Goute
is a person who is mentioned in the book about DW and about him I really have a funny story. It happened in the little town of Darlington
in the Autumn of 1982 when CWA
had their annual meeting. It was very well organized and for the gala dinner they had all the staff dressed in fictional costumes like:
, Obergruppenführer Graubert Obergruppenführer Grauber
from DW´s Gregory Sallust-series
. See the picture to the right.
During the gala dinner the Mayor of Darlington, Bill Newton
, told the story about what happened in New York the year before when MWA
gave away their Edgars
. One of the winners was the Englishman J H H Goute
, who got the prize for The Best Non-fiction book that year. When the announcement for the prize came, a man came forward and said that he represented Mr Goute. He took the prize, got a lot of applause and disappeared. No one has ever seen him or the prize since.
But this evening Mr Goute could personally take the prize from the Mayor’s hands. The prize (The Edgar statue) had been specially sent from MWA in New York to Darlington. The applause which followed was long and intense
Mr Goute to the right finally gets his MWA-prize, the Edgar. To the right in the middle the Mayor of Darlington claps his hand together with his wife in the red dress.
So we have come to DW´s son, Anthony
, his only son from his two marriages. We had written letters to each other for a long time and in one of his letters he suggested meeting at his home, hopefully the next time I was in England. Later on, Jan Alexandersson and I flew to England for two weeks and when I phoned Anthony he invited us to his home for dinner. He lived in famous Wimbledon in an elegant home. As Jan and I stayed at the Piccadilly Hotel
, Anthony suggested his lawyer could pick us up and drive us to his house. The first time I was picked up by a man driving a Rolls Royce I must confess. Not bad at all!
In the hall Anthony met us and asked us what we wanted to drink. In this upper-class-home I didn’t know that asking for a whisky was not very good manners, but I did and Anthony was a bit pale but said quickly: “Oh, a sherry, very dry!” And that’s it.
Before we sat at the table I was talking to our hostess about food and especially Swedish food. She asked me what my favourite dish was and I told her that in fact I had two really favourite dishes and they were lobster and smoked salmon...
. .. I remember that she looked very amused when I told her that, because that’s what she served for that excellent dinner. A very successful evening with a lot of interesting talk Anthony, his wife and the lawyer and his wife.
Jan Alexandersson, Annette Wheatley, Iwan Morelius, advokatens hustru och Anthony
A lot of interesting things happened this Autumn 1982. I think I can tell an odd piece because it happened about the thriller author Frederick Forsyth
. He is not mentioned in Phil’s book but because the following little funny story deals with when Dennis and Frederick met the first time it could be of some interest.
I was a pen-friend also with Frederick Forsyth and when he heard I was in London that week he suggested we could meet each other at his club in London called Mont Calm
. He invited me for lunch there and we talked about his next thriller and we talked about how he finally found a publisher for his debut thriller The Day of the Jackal
, when I suddenly asked him if he had met DW as they both had the same publisher. For a few seconds he was quiet, but then he smiled and told me the following story.
Frederick told me that the first time he met DW was at a party held at Hatchards
in London. The publisher celebrated Authors of the Year
, and DW was there because of his book The Devil and All His Work
and Frederick because of his Odessa File
. DW flirted wildly with Forsyth’s young and very beautiful wife the whole evening. When later on he was introduced to the Forsyths and found they were a couple, Dennis laughed loudly and invited them both for dinner some days later in his home in London.
Dennis Wheatley´s gardener
Frederick Forsyth and Iwan Morelius outside his club Mont Calm in London
, I think, isn´t a person many of todays DW-fans have met. I was fortunate to meet him when my ex-wife, Inga and I were driving from Totnes, after a week in Desmond and Joan Bagley´s home there. On our way back to London we were very close to Lymington so we decided to just have a look. We parked the car and asked some nice people where Lymington was situated and they told us the way. When there we at once found that serpentine wall Dennis Wheatley had built himself, told in his book Saturdays With Bricks
It must have been my lucky day as we very soon met an elderly man in the garden and when I introduced myself and my wife he told us that he was the former gardener to Dennis Wheatley and that Grove Place was completely destroyed and was to be rebuilt in order to be a school for blind people. He showed us the garden and some other walls Dennis had made himself. I took a photo of him and my wife Inga and then we started for London.
comes next, Dennis’s stepdaughter. For years I had admired her drawings and maps from many of the earlier books by Dennis, but I had never written to her or tried to get in touch with her. Meeting her came as a great and just lovely surprise when I visited one of “my” authors I had in my Hedman-Thrillers
. His name was David Osborn
and I had got one of his first books to read. I found it so thrilling that I decided to have it as the first book in my series. But when I showed it to the publisher he said to me: “Iwan, I think that book is too tough to start with”. So we had it published separately. The title of that book is Open Season
. When it was filmed the film was totally forbidden in Sweden. William Holden
and Jane Fonda
have the leading parts in this very tough movie. It’s still one of my favourite books.
At the end of May and beginning of June I was invited to David & Liz Osborn
, who were living up in Vermont
. I stayed in their home for a full week and there I got the chance to read the manuscript of David’s new thriller called Love and Treason
, which was set in The White House
. I could read chapter after chapter after they were written in fact. Very interesting. The papers were hot from the author’s pen.
One evening I was talking to David´s wife Liz and we talked about Dennis Wheatley when Liz suddenly said to me: “Iwan, come to the window. Can you guess who lives up there ?”, and she pointed to a window with a light on. Of course I couldn’t, so she continued and said it was Dennis Wheatley’s step-daughter. “Would you like to meet her?” 15 minutes later she had called Diana and arranged a meeting for the next afternoon. I was most welcome being a friend of her step-father, she told Liz.
The next afternoon, June 2nd, I was sitting opposite Diana (Younger)
, with a drink in front of me talking about the end-maps she did for her father’s books in the 30s and 40s.
How much GOOD LUCK can one have in his life? Here I am with Diana in her home
it would take many more years until I got in touch with the man who founded the DW website, one of the most well done and so nicely produced sites. Very, very professional, indeed. This man was of course Bob Rothwell
, who so suddenly died two years ago. I had the pleasure to be a pen friend with him during some exciting years and also met him in person in Stockholm, Sweden
in the summer 2002 when he drove from England to Stockholm together with his nice wife. They stayed in our house (a rented one) almost one week and we had enormous fun together, not only talking about DW´s books.
Bob and I had been pen friends for a long time when he told Margareta and me that they were driving to Stockholm. They were going to arrive on July 24th and Bob got me to email a map. We had decided to meet at a petrol station close to where we lived – a SHELL one – which was easy to find. We were there in good time and we knew what car he was driving – a little white Mercedes, you know, the smallest one. Suddenly we saw one coming at full speed and passing us like lightning. But we stayed where we were and in a few minutes Bob came back – just a bit slower. We saw each other, we met, and we both conquered. A nice meeting followed by a good dinner with graved salmon and fresh potatoes.
Bob and his wife Sue stayed with us to the 29th of July, when they drove to my brother-in-law to buy some of his DW-books. He had a complete collection too. He bought a lot of Lymington-editions plus some 1st editions he didn’t have himself. Then they came back to us and I showed Bob some nice second-hand bookshops where he bought a least 1 meter of Swedish 1st editions. When they loaded their car I could not imagine how he could fit so many books in this little car, plus his wife Sue and her wheelchair. Nice people to have met!
He was very, very particular with his tea. It should be served in a special way, and everything had to be served in the right order. Margareta and I learned a lot about the English tea-ceremony.
The Next person
I met with a great DW interest was of course the Englishman Steve Whatley
. No, it is not a misspelling. His name is Whatley, not Wheatley. Steve had an advert in the well known magazine Book & Magazine Collector
. I answered his ad and Steve wrote back asking me if I happened to be “that Iwan Hedman (Hedman-Morelius) he tried to get in touch with for almost ten years?
” . When he started to try to find me I had moved to Spain. He was really happy to have found me at last and we started to exchange e-mails. We got a very good contact as we both collected DW books and had another great interest in common – both he and his partner Jean played badminton . Soon they came to Spain and visited us here in Campo Verde. At the beginning of June they drove all the way from the U.K. in Jean’s car and we met them for the first time. It was a great pleasure to meet them and to show them my DW collection.
Since that first meeting I have had the pleasure to meet them twice up in Elstree at the two DW Conventions there. Steve has been of great help to Phil Baker’s research for his wonderful book.
Here is Steve between me and Margareta at our home in Campo Verde in June 2nd 2004..
Steve then got a copy of my taped interview with DW. He was very happy for that
When Bob Rothwell
died so suddenly some years ago the big question was who could take over his life work – the DW website ? One, for me then unknown person took the big job, an almost impossible task. How first of all to get through and find the passwords?
Bob was a genius on computers and had made it almost impossible for anyone to open his files.
The man who took over was Charles Beck
, who after some hard work was able to solve all the problems – with some help, I think. Of course I started to have an exchange with him too and many e-mails went back and forth from Spain-England until I finally could meet him in person. That was also up at Elstree. We really found each other from the first second and I understood I had found a man like myself. I felt as if I had known Charles for a lifetime and he said that too last time we met in Elstree.
is the one who hold the “keys” to the DW website
and all news about DW goes to him and he puts it into the site, which in my opinion is just outstanding. Charles is working on a website DW Museum at the moment. He is a man who burns for this site and it is a real pleasure to work with him. That he also has a most charming wife doesn’t lessen the enjoyment. They have promised to visit Margareta and me here in Spain. We hope it will be soon. I’m sure we would not be quiet for many seconds then.
Charles Beck together with fellow enthusiast Steve Whatley up in Elstree 2008
Here you’ll find everything about Dennis Wheatley.
the book written by Phil Baker is a book that every DW-fan must have in his/her bookshelves. I recommend it very warmly and it can be obtained from the following addresses::
Dedalus Ltd, 24-26 St. Judith’s Lane, Sawtry, Cambs;PE28 5XE.
You can ask: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.dedalusbooks.com.
You can ask me at: email@example.com
Or my e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This page last updated Copyright © 2002-2006 Bob Rothwell. 2007-2018 Charles Beck.