The Devil is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley (Dark Masters)
One of the giants of popular fiction, with total sales of around fifty million books, Dennis Wheatley held twentieth-century Britain spellbound. His Black Magic novels like The Devil Rides Out created an oddly seductive and luxurious vision of Satanism, but in reality he was as interested in politics as occultism. Wheatley was closely involved with the secret intelligence community, and this powerfully researched study shows just how directly this drove his work, from his unlikely warnings about the menace of Satanic Trade Unionism to his role in a British scheme to engineer a revival of Islam. Drawing on a wealth of unpublished material, Phil Baker examines Wheatley’s key friendship with a fraudster named Eric Gordon Tombe, and uncovers the full story of his sensational 1922 murder. Baker also explores Wheatley’s relationships with occult figures such as Rollo Ahmed, Aleister Crowley, and the Reverend Montague Summers, the shady priest and demonologist who inspired the memorably evil character of Canon Copely-Syle, in To The Devil – A Daughter.
preserved at the Public Records Office as HO144/21511, ‘Allegations of teachings of communist doctrines at Dartington Hall Co-Ed School 1932–41’: they remain closed until 2042). “I had heard about a school in Devonshire,” says Wheatley, where “pupils were allowed complete licence to attend classes or not as they liked, lie in bed all day if they wished and even abuse teachers that they disliked.” Wheatley claims there were rumours of pupils being encouraged to attend Satanic gatherings in a
Battle of the Somme, which ground to a halt a month later with combined casualties of over a million dead for an advance of seven miles. After Clark’s warning about the debacle on Salisbury Plain and questions being raised in the House, Peel may have seen Wheatley as what we would now call a ‘whistle blower.’ Perhaps this was why he thought France was the place for him. Once again Wheatley’s luck held, although it was another disappointment at the time. Wheatley never got his trench mortars or
duties were less grand, selling wines and beer at the cash counter, and helping in the cellar, and doing the books. In the mornings he was expected to go around the great houses in the area calling on the head servants, a two-faced caste who operated, as we have seen, on a system of bribes and backhanders. Wheatley found a few of these men likeable, and enjoyed having a glass of their master’s wine with them by their firesides below stairs, but most of them were “far from pleasant … they
credit’s excellent, Old Bill’s got a splendid name on the Turf. Between us we can easily lay on £10,000 among the twenty Bookies that we deal with. You see we’ve always spread our dealings so as to keep open the maximum number of accounts – you know how I always work these things – We put the money on a good horse that we think has a chance to win at fairly decent odds say five to one – if it comes in, alright! we get our boodle – if not we refuse to pay … All they can do is to bar us from the
seemed to me the supreme achievement in both life and books … After praising individual characters and episodes, Wheatley adds “but I’m afraid that for me to say those things to you is like a very small boy at Hollywood telling DW Griffiths that his cowboys are good.” Huxley wrote back with a three page letter. He did sign Wheatley’s books for him, and added extra inscriptions: in Antic Hay, for example, he wrote out the Marlowe quotation of the title: “My men like Satyrs grazing on the lawns