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27 November 2019

The Convention Report will follow later as I've been away.

There is perhaps a lesson in this month's update, although I am finding it hard to put into words. Sometimes I just take it for granted that fundamental things 'are the way they are', and don't think about asking 'why'. I guess I'm not alone in this because presumably Sir Isaac Newton's predecessors in physics, as well as countless others, have been guilty of the same thing.

Anyway, in my less important way, I was guilty of the same thing. As everyone knows, The Duke de Richleau is my favourite DW hero, and it was naturally well honed into me that the first few de Richleau novels began with 'the Duke [and guest] had gone in to dinner at eight o'clock, but coffee was not served until after ten' or a slight variant, subject only to it fitting in with the timeline – but that this was absent from all the later stories in the series.

It never occurred to me to wonder why DW stopped doing this, or that it might have been a very deliberate decision.

Well, it was, and thanks to Deb (she will know who she is) passing me a letter DW wrote to Anthony Lejeune in the nineteen fifties, we now know why.

I should have known better. Nothing DW did when writing was ever done by accident. Everything was always done for a reason. DW was the personification of thoroughness when he wrote.

If you have a read of the letter, you will find out why !


The Museum : The Post War Years

22 October 2019

A short update this month after last month's mega update.

I have recently been made aware of a letter which DW wrote to Anthony Lejeune in the early nineteen sixties which sheds an interesting light on his (non-pecuniary) motivations for writing. I have accordingly added it to the Museum.

If anyone can make sense of the near illegible word in the first line of the second paragraph I would be most grateful if they would let me know what it is. I wanted it to read 'touched', but that isn't the word as written

The prize for solving this ?

My gratitude.


The Museum : The Post War Years

30 September 2019

Rooms in the site's virtual Museum can have long gestation periods. If the Room on Dennis Wheatley's Library took two years to go from first thoughts to final(ish) version, the Room on the relationship between Dennis Wheatley and Joan Grant has taken at least ten, as I have bought books with interesting inscriptions and been directed to other interesting manuscript material, much of which is being displayed and discussed here for the very first time.

I am grateful to book dealers Ian Marr (grandson of Doctor Marr in Joan Grant's story: Ian told me some time ago that what Joan wrote about his grandfather and Sir Henry Wood in 'Time Out Of Mind' was absolutely true) and George Locke, both of whom when they learned of my interests proved invaluable in enthusiastically hunting out material for me.

I also had the privilege some time ago of meeting Joan Grant's grand-daughter Nicola Bennett, and she is as charming and gracious as her grandmother, whom I hold in no less a regard than I hold the great Dennis himself.

Both, it seems to me, have in their own way made the world a better and more interesting place, and both I think could answer the question posed by Joan's 'Great Hunters' in 'Scarlet Feather' with more assurance than most.

Their question was: 'How many people are happier because you were born?'


The Museum: Special Exhibition
Champions of reincarnation -
Dennis Wheatley & Joan Grant


19 August 2019

Sometimes I see a document and it takes a while for its importance to filter through to me. Perhaps I am getting senile. In any event this was the case with our first new exhibit, which only recently 'spoke to me' when I was giving it a closer look.

I had always assumed that when DW was a civilian and writing his 'War Papers' in advance of being recruited into the RAF and becoming a deception planner, he was on 'transmit' and not 'receive'; and that he was never a party to any classified material.

The first new exhibit shows that such was absolutely not the case. A wartime receipt that found its way to me shows beyond doubt that towards the end of this period at least, not only was 'Mr Wheatley' already in direct communication with the likes of the RAF's Air Marshal (Sir) Richard Peck, but that they were also sharing classified material with the novelist.

From more recent times, we also have some new material for 'Wheatley around the World'.

First, a Japanese edition of 'The Devil Rides Out' and a Japanese DVD of the same title; and second, although we cannot be sure in which country or countries it was published, for completeness I have added 'Of Vice and Virtue' into the foreign publications section.


The Museum: World War Two









Wheatley Around The World: Japan

Wheatley Around The World

23 July 2019

This month I have added into the 'Critiques / Books and articles' section two items which should already have been there, but for some reason were not.

The first is Richard Humphreys' 1999 Bibliography of DW, which was produced as a strictly limited edition (Bob Rothwell was wise enough to buy one !), and which illustrated many jackets for the very first time. This work was used by Bob and Richard to populate the earliest versions of the first editions material on this website, so while Ivan Hedman's bibliographies were the first, Richard's was ground-breaking and of enormous historical significance.

The second was perhaps less well known in its day, but is of equal importance, and that is Jonathan McColl's 2003 work 'Introductions and Recommendations by (and for) Dennis Wheatley', which pulled together all the introductions from the 'Library of the Occult Series', other introductions, and perhaps most importantly catalogued all of Jonathan's impressive compendium of notes on sources used by DW, and on the allusions to be found in his works.

Both should more properly have been catalogued on this website before, and I am putting this right with my apologies to both authors, and gratitude for what they accomplished in those difficult days before the internet took hold.

While it is shown elsewhere, for symmetry I have also added an illustration of the front cover of 'Of Vice and Virtue' to the main bibliographic 'first editions' section.

Finally, I don't think it will have escaped anyone's attention that Donald Trump paid the U.K. a state visit last month, which was timed to coincide with the commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings on 6th June 1944. What may have escaped readers' attention though is that Donald Trump is a great admirer of Churchill, and specifically asked to be given a tour of the Churchill War Rooms during his visit. According to the Jersey Evening Post (and it may have been in other papers, but I didn't see it) as part of the tour he listened to the recording of DW talking about his role in Deception Planning. If DT did indeed listen to DW talking about this – and I find this account entirely plausible – then wherever he is now, DW must be feeling very pleased and gratified that he and his friends in the London Controlling Section finally received the recognition from international leaders that they deserved.


Critiques / Books and articles …












Other Publications:
First Editions : 1946-1951


28 May 2019

This month we have a small miscellany of what I hope are interesting updates.

First of all, Darren and I were going through some papers a while ago and came across an invitation card to Dennis Wheatley's 80th Birthday Party. So you will now find that among the exhibits in the final room of the 'virtual Museum' !

Next, two new books of interest to DW aficionados have been published this month. The first, is 'A Spy is Born', by Jeremy Duns, which explores DW and the secret roots of Ian Fleming's James Bond. I haven't read it yet, but judging by Jeremy's previous work on the subject, it should be good. The other is 'Cradle of Writers', by Patrick Humphries, which is the third in a series of books marking Dulwich College's quatercentenary, and which celebrates five famous novelists who attended the school, one of whom was DW. Worth a read.

Elsewhere, and I should have done it before, I have added 'Authors take sides on Vietnam', which was published in 1967, to the section illustrating books containing articles or other pieces by DW, and Steve Whatley, who is always on the lookout for the strange and the obscure, has added a little more information regarding one of the stranger items in the DW compendium; an action figure of the Duc de Richleau. We still don't know its date, but it must be post the Hammer film of 1968, and we now know the name of the company which produced it. Not one for my shopping list, I'm afraid. No room in the house to collect everything !



The Museum : The final years


Other Publications:
Critiques/Books and Articles about DW



Other Publications:
Other Publications : Articles
by DW


Other Publications : Other


23 April 2019

This month's update is an unusual item. It is Dennis Wheatley's astrological chart, courtesy of Wanda Sellar. I first met Wanda at the Southend Book Fair, and later at the Solar Society, where I gave a talk on Dennis Wheatley. Wanda is amongst her other achievements a past president of the Astrological Lodge of London and its current program organiser. She is also the author of three books on astrology. Irrespective of whether you are a believer in astrology or not, I think you will find the chart interesting.

I am also in this update adding another book to the 'books about DW' section.

I recently acquired volume five of the 'Official History of Intelligence in the Second World War' by Professor Sir Michael Howard, who was Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford University in the 1980s. This volume concerned 'Strategic Deception', and I was pleased to see that this 'Official History' made mention of Dennis Wheatley.

I have also put a note on the Conventions and Field Trips page that this year's Convention, will be held at the Laura Ashley The Manor Hotel on Saturday 26th October. Please contact me if you would like to make a booking.


Dennis Wheatley's
Astrological Chart





Other Publications:
Critiques/Books and Articles about DW


Conventions and Field Trips


31 March 2019

I think I could modestly claim of this site that it specialises in new discoveries.

It unearthed the only known copy of 'The Lusty Youth of Roger Brook' and the only known copies (in English and Arabic) of 'Of Vice and Virtue' as well as the ashtray DW 'souvenired' after a wartime cabinet meeting in Churchill's underground war rooms, DW's last briefcase and other items; many of historic significance.

The latest find may eclipse many of them, and is of some considerable significance. When DW penned 'Stranger than Fiction', his 1959 account of his secret war work between the spring of 1940 and the summer of 1941, he wrote at the start of Chapter 8:

“In August, while the Battle of Britain raged overhead, the J.P.S. were already considering some of the problems concerning the grim winter that lay before us. The R.A.F. was already committed to the limit, there was little that the Navy could do on its own, and all the Army in Britain could do, as new supplies of weapons came forward, was to train with the utmost intensity to resist the invasion we were all expecting, if not within a matter of weeks, then certainly in the coming spring.

Yet to show the Americans we were still on our feet, and that any help they gave us would not be thrown away; to keep up the morale of the Services, and, not least, to hearten the general public in bearing the infliction of bombs, rationing, evacuation, and the long nights of the blackout, it was very important that various ways should be found of providing headaches for the enemy.

Darvall asked me for my suggestions and I wrote another paper for him entitled 'This Winter'. Unfortunately, however, no copy of this paper can now be traced, and after eighteen years neither he nor I can recall its contents …”.

A copy has finally come to light in a diligent search of some of DW's archives in private hands, and the first page of this long lost paper can now be seen in the 'War Papers' section of the site's 'Virtual Museum'.

In due course and once I have sought the appropriate permissions, it may be that the entire forty seven pages of this long lost paper will be made available on this site, to supplement all the other material that it preserves in DW's honour. It is quite punchy, as students of DW's war work would expect, and contains some startlingly original – and in some cases sinister - ideas.

“Out with the champagne … !”


The Museum Room 8 : World War Two
DW's 'War Papers' – the missing paper
'This Winter'


28 February 2019

This month two further German editions have put in an appearance thanks to Steve Whatley – recent editions of The Devil Rides Out and To The Devil A Daughter.

I am also able to add in the 'Other Publications' section a further book with a section on DW, although its title may well not please everybody (anybody ?); it is 'The Book of Forgotten Authors' by Christopher Fowler, and was noticed by the excellent Robert Rakison a while back, but I had not had an opportunity to include it on the website until now.

Finally, in the Talks and Broadcasts section, I am making mention for the record that I gave a talk to the Solar Society, a group in Essex, about Dennis Wheatley entitled 'Dennis Wheatley Rides Out' on 4th February. They were an excellent audience … when I asked if anyone had heard of Dennis Wheatley almost everyone put their hand up, and most had read some of his novels. I should have brought Christopher Fowler along with me!


Wheatley Around the World:
Germany


Other Publications:
Critiques/books and articles about DW


Other Publications:
Broadcasts etc.



31 January 2019

I hope 2019 is starting well for everyone.

I have recently sent Field Trip and Convention attendees a list of possible things we can do this year (if you haven't received it and would like to, please let me know), and as one of them is a Colchester Field Trip, I have loaded into the Field Trip section an account of a reconnoitre that Mike Bramley and I did of the area last summer. It built on some earlier and excellent research by 'Oldjiver', as some of you will recall.

Elsewhere, one of the nice things about collecting Dennis Wheatley is that sometimes you find things that you didn't even know you should be looking for. An example of this is our first Japanese edition. Steve Whatley rang me up to say he had discovered it. It is a sumptuously produced Japanese translation of 'The Satanist', and I couldn't resist buying a copy, even though the cover illustration is rather nasty. It comes in a slipcase and is a quality production if there ever was one. Judging by the back cover, there are at least four more Japanese editions to be found.



Field Trips:
A reconnoitre of the Colchester area



Wheatley around the World:
Japan



12 December 2018

Following our traditional Christmas motif, if you click on the link to the right, or on the icon on the left hand side of the Contents page, you can see a selection of Christmas cards sent out by DW or sent to DW.

New to the cards sent to DW section are a card sent to DW by Sir John Pilcher, the British Ambassador to Japan between 1967 and 1972, and a card sent to DW from the Houses of Parliament by Henry Hopkinson, the 1st Baron Colyton, a British diplomat and conservative politician.

Elsewhere, and in the modern era, I was delighted to see that in the 1st December issue of the Guardian, in its Review section, novelist Sarah Waters listed Dennis Wheatley as her 'guilty reading pleasure'.

'Dennis Wheatley novels. I can't defend them at all. Grandiose, repetitive, preposterous to the point of insanity, offensive in a thousand different ways – they're like giant Donald Trump tweets.'

Well, no offence to Donald Trump, but I know which I'd rather read!

Best wishes to all supporters of this site for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Charles B.


Dennis Wheatley's Christmas cards through the decades


Christmas Cards written to Dennis Wheatley


Other publications: Critiques/ books and articles about DW
30 November 2018

This month's update is the report on the Eleventh Dennis Wheatley Convention, which was held on Saturday 13th October. I hope it will bring back pleasant memories for those who attended, and act as a spur for those (if there are any !) who are undecided as to whether to come next time. Not only did we all learn a lot, but more importantly a good time was definitely had by all !

A report on Mike and my exploratory visit to Colchester will hopefully follow next time !


The 2018 Convention


31 October 2018

Thanks to the generosity of Colin McCourt, I can advise that the current edition of 'The Dark Side' has a six page article 'The Devil Rides Again' by Brian J.Robb, discussing the Hammer film of 'The Devil Rides Out'.

I will publish a report of the 2018 Convention and of an Essex 'pre-Field Trip' next time, but in the meantime I have added to the Museum page on DW's memoirs an obituary of Anthony Lejeune that Steve Whatley wrote for this year's Convention Programme, with Steve's kind permission. Another ground-breaking article from the same Programme will follow with next month's Convention Report.


Other publications /Critiques / Books and articles about


The Museum: The Final Years
14 September 2018

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. In a previous update I said that I would soon have to stop adding to the Museum section on DW's Library lest it became too voluminous. Despite that I am going to add (at least) one more item.

DW's copy of John Buchan's 'Greenmantle' surfaced this month, and Buchan is so significant, and the story of the book's signing so charming, that I feel little hesitation in including it. I hope you will not consider me at fault in so doing.

Elsewhere, this year's Convention is fast approaching, and I will shortly be contacting those who are coming for their dinner menu choices and for payment. This year despite rising hotel prices we have a record attendance, which is pleasing.


The Museum: Dennis Wheatley's Library




The 2018 Convention
21 August 2018

This month's update comes thanks to Jamie Sturgeon, and is the inclusion of two articles written by the Wheatleys in 1938 in the 'Articles by' section – both in editions of 'Answers' Magazine, a magazine I had never heard of before.

Away from the usual updates, I should mention that we are now accepting bookings for our Eleventh Convention, which will take place at The Laura Ashley The Manor Hotel in Elstree on Saturday 13th October. Price for the day is £120 for the Convention, buffet lunch and dinner, or £85 if you aren't joining us for the dinner. This year we are letting everyone organise and book their hotel accommodation for themselves – either at the Convention hotel or elsewhere according to their preferences and budget. If you would like to come and haven't let me know yet, please contact me.

Elsewhere, I should mention that Mike Bramley and I and our partners had a highly enjoyable day in Colchester a week or so ago, looking for places that figured in 'To The Devil a Daughter' and building on Old Jiver's sterling research that is to be found in The Library, with a view to our possibly having a Colchester / Essex Field Trip some time next year . Mike will be giving a fuller account of what we might do at some stage in the Convention proceedings.


Articles by Dennis Wheatley
19 July 2018

This month's update contains three new items for the 'Museum'.

In the section on 'Stranger than Fiction', DW's account of writing his 'War Papers' between 1940 and 1941, I am adding to the exhibits General Lord 'Pug' Ismay's copy, which came up for auction earlier this year. This is a tremendous association copy given that Ismay was, before he went on to become the first Secretary General of NATO, Churchill's Chief Military Assistant in World War Two. He and DW were close friends, so this is a rather special copy.

The final two new exhibits are the folders which contain the typescripts of two of the volumes of DW's autobiography

One of them is of 'The Deception Planners' with its original title 'Secrets of the War Cabinet'. The other is of DW's final volume 'The Old Man Said', which was never published in its entirety, with only a small portion being extracted and inserted as a final section ('Autumn') in 'Drink and Ink'. It is good to know that, even if unpublished, the remainder survives. I had the pleasure of discovering these folders in an attic a short while ago.


The Museum : The Post War Years





The Museum : The Final Years
20 June 2018

Anyone who liked the new exhibit which went live in the Museum in the April update – the letter inviting DW to receive his 'Bronze Star' at the end of World War Two - will, I hope, love this month's new exhibit, and perhaps love it even more ...

I have long been searching for it, and thanks to the excellent Ian Sayer, I have now found it – an item relating to one of the annual London Controlling Section reunion dinners. These dinners, of the wartime Deception Planners and their masters – the likes of Lord Alanbrooke, Lord Ismay and Lord Alexander – must have been quite something. What the people around that table didn't know about the inner workings of World War Two simply wouldn't have been worth knowing!

Elsewhere, one must never forget the 'publications' sections, and here I am most grateful again to my correspondent in the Netherlands Hillebrand Komrij, who has discovered, at some cost, two hitherto unknown pre-war Belgian editions of the Crime Dossiers. Thank you Hillebrand, and please keep them coming!


The Museum : The Post War Years





Wheatley around the World : Belgium
23 May 2018

This month's update is the report on the May 2018 London Field Trip.

The Field Trip took place on Saturday 5th May, and was very much the brainchild of Franklin Johnson, who was unfortunately unable to attend, as were several other longstanding Conventioneers.

In brilliant sunshine we visited DW's last home, 60 Cadogan Square, Melina Place - identified by Phil Baker as the inspiration for the house with the observatory from which the Duke de Richleau rescues Simon Aron near the beginning of 'The Devil Rides Out' - and the nearby site of DW's one time home in St Johns Wood Park, from which he was bombed out in December 1940.

We then had lunch at Rules, London's oldest restaurant, an old haunt of DW's, followed by a trip to the Churchill War Rooms, where DW worked as a 'Deception Planner' later in the war; and we finished off the day with a champagne reception at the British Academy at Ten Carlton House Terrace as a tribute to DW's fictional character Sir Pellinore Gwaine-Cust, who lived at the non-existent Number Ninety Four.

A superb day was had by all!


The May 2018 London Field Trip
25 April 2018

This month, we have two interesting additions...

First of all, in the Museum's section on DW in World War Two, I have put on display the letter DW received from the American Embassy in November 1946 inviting him to attend the Ambassador's Residence the following month to be presented with his Bronze Star.

What an amazing find ! I had no idea until a few weeks ago that this was how it was done, or that DW's letter still survived!

Secondly, and later than I should have done, I am recording Nicholas Booth's excellent book 'Lucifer Rising', which gives a much more balanced account than most of the extent to which British Intelligence investigated, and sometimes sought to exploit, their opponents' alleged beliefs in the occult.

The book contains a number of references to DW, and a full page picture of DW is rather nicely captioned 'The grand old man'. Nicely done!


The Museum: World War Two


Other Publications:
Critiques/Books and articles about...


22 March 2018

I shall have to stop adding to the section on DW's Library soon lest it become too voluminous, but this month, thanks to a contribution from Mark Mortimer, I am able to add a book DW owned on Palmistry from immediately after the First World War.

Elsewhere , in the 'Other Publications' section, I have added two items. The first is Cathi Unsworth's latest novel, 'That Old Black Magic. Cathi has been dubbed 'The first lady of noire writing', and this, her sixth novel, is very much a Dennis Wheatley homage. It refers to one of Maxwell Knight's friends being “a writer of thrillers who was given to throwing a good party”, and has a pentagram scene that compares very decently with the one in 'To The Devil A Daughter' – that's saying something, and the book – like its predecessors a very complex mix of fact and fiction – is skilfully done indeed

In the same section and on a more light-hearted note, I have added Kevin Pearce's latest and least literary discovery – an action figure of the Duke de Richleau !

And finally, a final reminder in case anyone wants to come and hasn't let me know - the date of the London Field Trip is confirmed as Saturday 5th May. Full details can be found in the Library.

The Museum :
Dennis Wheatley's Library


Other Publications:
Other


The London Field Trip

19 February 2018

This month, we have some interesting additions

First, for the bibliophiles among you, Kevin Pearce has discovered the only known copy (so far) of the second state gift binding of the 'Century of Spy Stories', which is now illustrated on the site.

Second, for those who enjoy reading about DW's life, I have added, courtesy of Ian Sayer, a photo of a young Captain Hubert Stringer. Stringer was the officer who gave DW his 'big break in World War II, and never before have we known what he looked like.

Third, another good friend of this site, James Hallgate of Lucius Books in York, has yet again found something of interest to the DW community; a typescript article by DW entitled 'The making of my Library'. It was originally published by DW's friend Frederick Cowles in the Swinton and Pendlebury Public Libraries Bulletin in July 1936 (I owe this information to the indefatigable Steve Whatley) and is reproduced here by permission of, and with my usual thanks to Dominic Wheatley. It is far more personal than the account given in DW's autobiography, and is rather charming - at least to me. A public library publishing a bulletin btw … how times have changed …

Fourth, having updated the 'Introduction to Dennis Wheatley' on the website last month, I have updated the 'About this site' section this month

And finally, the date of the London Field Trip is confirmed as Saturday 5th May. I will be putting more about this in 'The Library' shortly. Do join us!

First editions 1938 - 1939

The Museum – World War II

The Museum – DW's Library

About this Site

The London Field Trip

15 January 2018

The New Year begins with a nice (and pretty accurate) article commemorating the 121st anniversary of DW's birth in The Daily Telegraph.

Since it is some years since it was written, I have taken the opportunity of the New Year to re-write and update the opening summary of DW's life.

Other publications
/Critiques/Books and articles about …


Dennis Wheatley – an introduction

 



    
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