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|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.
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
|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:
Critiques/books and articles about DW
|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.
A reconnoitre of the Colchester area
Wheatley around the World:
|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!
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
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
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.
/Critiques/Books and articles about …
Dennis Wheatley – an introduction
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