Camilla Shestopal, agent for the estate of Dennis Wheatley, tells us about a Wheatley event at the Essex Book Festival. Dennis Wheatley was an English author whose prolific output of stylish thrillers and occult novels made him one of the world’s best-selling writers from the 1930s through to the 1960s.
The Essex Book Festival held an event on 11 March 2017 on Dennis Wheatley as part of their Southend Golden Age of Crime weekend, at the Park Inn Palace Hotel. The event went swimmingly and was all but sold out. Charles Beck, who is an aficionado on all things Dennis Wheatley, runs the Dennis Wheatley website and worked closely with Bloomsbury Reader on their relaunch of all of Wheatley’s works as ebooks, talked about the man and his works.
‘The word thriller has never been more aptly bestowed’ The News Chronicle
Fascinating facts emerged: Wheatley always was a good story teller. He had written various short stories which were unpublished, but was forced to sell the family wine business because of the slump in the 1930s. Charles Beck brought with him an original bottle of wine which had belonged to Wheatley and had never been opened.
Wheatley’s family then persuaded him to write for a living, and that is exactly what happened.
Charles Beck gave insights into Wheatley and his war efforts; none of us knew that he contributed to war strategy in WWII.
Dennis Wheatley wrote roughly sixty books and was a bestseller from the 1930s to the 1970s. During the 1960s Wheatley sold over one million copies of his paperbacks in the UK alone.
It is thought the James Bond character was based on Wheatley’s Gregory Sallust character, but it is not clear whether Ian Flemming and Dennis Wheatley were friends, although they did meet once or twice.
‘He forcibly abducts the imagination’ Evening Standard
Charles Beck brought one of the first editions of The Forbidden Territory with him, and informed the audience that his wife had designed that particular cover showing three black daggers. Wheatley, in his time, had met the occultist Aleister Crowley, who presented Wheatley with one of his own hardback books, with a personal signature to Wheatley and this was shown to the audience. A question from the floor asked whether Wheatley himself believed in the occult. As far as Charles Beck knew, it was just an interesting subject for his novels, and he certainly didn’t get involved.
A good and interesting time was had by all – those who were new to Wheatley and those who already were familiar with some of his work. Bloomsbury Reader have reissued all sixty titles as ebooks and the three best known titles, To The Devil a daughter, The Devil Rides Out and The Forbidden Territory are available as paperbacks. Get reading!
New to Wheatley? Why not try a starter, featuring the first titles in The Black Magic, The Gregory Sallust, Roger Brook and The Duke De Richleau series?
Read the first three novels in Dennis Wheatley’s thrilling Black Magic series including The Devil Rides Out, Strange Conflict and The Haunting of Toby Jugg. If you’ve not yet read Dennis Wheatley, or wish to revisit three of his best known books, this series starter provides the perfect introduction to the complete Black Magic Series of eleven titles. The Black Magic series features one of Dennis Wheatley’s best known characters, the Duke de Richleau, and deals with themes for which Wheatley is arguably most renowned, Satanism and the occult.
‘Before there was James Bond, there was Gregory Sallust.’ Tina Rosenberg, Salon.com
The first three books in the classic spy series. Dennis Wheatley’s bestselling Gregory Sallust series features the debonair spy Gregory Sallust, a forerunner to Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Gregory Sallust is a British Intelligence agent; a self-reliant thrill seeker with a love of adventure and a weakness for women.
Introducing Roger Brook, ‘master spy and gentleman adventurer’ of the Napoleonic Era, in Dennis Wheatley’s famous historical series that spans the years from 1783-1815. Read the first two books to launch you into the series.
Duke de Richleau
The first three thrilling adventures in the Duke de Richleau series. We begin in the Paris of the 1890s; a world of superficial glamour but, under the surface, deep social and political strife. Our eponymous hero, the Duke de Richleau – a French aristocrat that renounces his country – must go into exile. A rich series packed with true history, subtle intrigue, sudden violence, terrorism, blackmail and suspense, alongside bitter-sweet romance.