Sunday, 17 March 2013

Dennis Wheatley

Dennis Wheatley

Dennis Yates Wheatley (8 January 1897 – 10 November 1977) was an English author, born in the year of Dracula's publication, 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. During the Second World War, he was a member of the London Controlling Section, which secretly co-ordinated strategic military deception and cover plans. His literary talents gained him employment with planning staffs for the War Office. The most famous of his submissions to the Joint Planning Staff of the war cabinet was on "Total War." He was given a commission directly into the JP Service as Wing Commander, RAFVR and took part in advance planning for the Normandy invasions. In 1946, he was awarded the U.S. Bronze Star for his part in the war effort.

David Farrant outside Highgate Cemetery's North Gate.

Dennis Wheatley was an Honorary Life Member of both The Ghost Club and the British Occult Society. In the Daily Express, 26 June 1974, Dennis Wheatley said of David Farrant: "I cannot believe for one moment that he is a serious student of the occult. In fact I believe [Farrant] to be evil and entirely to be deplored." In the same article, Canon Pearce Higgins said of Farrant: "I think he's crazy." David Farrant sued the Daily Express, Canon Pearce Higgins and Dennis Wheatley but lost his action, receiving a bill of £20,000 court costs that was left for taxpayers to cover in its entirety. Dennis Wheatley died in November 1977 before making his appearance in the High Court charged with libel. In the event, however, his published statement about Farrant was not found to be libellous and therefore still stands.

Dennis Wheatley's novels' main characters are all supporters of Royalty, Empire and the class system, and many of his villains are villainous because they attack these ideas. During the winter of 1947, Wheatley penned "A Letter to Posterity" which he buried in an urn at his country home. The letter was intended to be discovered some time in the future (it was found in 1969 when that home was demolished for redevelopment of the property). In it he predicted that the socialist reforms introduced by the post-war government would result inevitably in an unjust state, and he advised both passive and active resistance to it.

Two weeks before his death, Dennis Wheatley received conditional absolution from his old friend Cyril "Bobby" Eastaugh, the Bishop of Peterborough. He was cremated at Tooting and his ashes interred at Brookwood Cemetery. He is commemorated on the Baker/Yeats monument and tomb of William Yeats Baker (1836-1916) at West Norwood Cemetery. There is something vaguely poetic that the man who invented "The Man Who Never Was" is not interred where he is remembered on the family tomb.

Dennis Wheatley sharing a joke with actor Christopher Lee.

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