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|12 December 2019||
As is our custom, this month’s update comprises Christmas fare.
To the section on cards sent to Dennis Wheatley, I have added a card sent to DW in 1972 by Sir Colin and Lady Gubbins. Sir Colin was the driving force behind the SOE during the last war.
I have also added to the Christmas launch page a couple of Christmas themed newspaper articles sent to me by Steve Whatley.
The first tells of DW’s best Christmas, while slightly editing aspects of his earlier life; the second is his recipe for Christmas Punch.
If he hasn’t tried it yet, I am sure I know at least one DW admirer who will be trying this one out at Christmas. I won’t be as I don’t like Port, but I shall certainly be drinking another of DW’s favourites – I have the Tokay ready and waiting !
My best wishes to all the many loyal supporters of this site for a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year !
Christmas cards sent to Dennis Wheatley
DW's Christmases through the decades
|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 ?
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 …
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
Critiques/Books and Articles about DW
Other Publications : Articlesby 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.
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:
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