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by Jim
Sat 13 Jun, 2015 14:54:38
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Happy Birthday, Sir Christopher
Replies: 15
Views: 18117

If folks are interested in a completely different aspect of Sir Christopher's work, get the recording of The King and I he made for Jay Records in 1994. Former D'Oyly Carte Opera soprano Valerie Masterson sings Anna, and the entire score is there. The number "Shall we dance," even without seeing the...
by Jim
Thu 11 Jun, 2015 17:21:31
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Happy Birthday, Sir Christopher
Replies: 15
Views: 18117

"Sir Christopher Lee, known as the master of horror, has died at the age of 93 after being hospitalised for respiratory problems and heart failure. The veteran actor, immortalised in films from Dracula to The Wicker Man, and via James Bond villainy to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, died at 8.30 am o...
by Jim
Mon 1 Jun, 2015 22:19:09
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Happy Birthday, Sir Christopher
Replies: 15
Views: 18117

shanedwyer wrote: His Lord of Misrule is one of the most engaging autobiographies I've ever read.
I have the earlier version, Tall, Dark and Gruesome; a great deal has happened to him since then. (My 1997 edition doesn't even mention The Lord of the Rings).
by Jim
Wed 27 May, 2015 17:40:26
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Happy Birthday, Sir Christopher
Replies: 15
Views: 18117

Happy Birthday, Sir Christopher

Yes, Christopher Lee, a/k/a the Duke de Richleau, is 93 today! :twisted:
by Jim
Wed 20 May, 2015 01:55:42
Forum: General Topics
Topic: DW puts in his oar...
Replies: 2
Views: 4434

DW puts in his oar...

On 22 December 1938, novelist/critic Howard Spring reviewed three new books in London’s Evening Standard, one being Agatha Christie’s mystery Hercule Poirot’s Christmas. In the course of the review--in addition to describing the book as “clumsyâ€￾ and “overladenâ€￾--Spring “disclosed (1) the identity of the murderer, (2) the murderer’s motive, (3) nearly every detail of the trick by which the crime had been committed, (4) how the detective knew it.â€￾ [1]

John Dickson Carr, who at that time was secretary of the Detection Club (a mainly social group of mystery writers formed in 1930 or so), was deputized to write a letter of protest to the paper. He allowed that Spring could like or dislike detective novels as he chose, but to give away the solution to one “can scarcely be called legitimate criticism,â€￾ and was unfair both to readers and writers. The Standard published Carr’s letter on 4 January 1939, along with an additional article by Spring in which he stated “most detective fiction is nonsense and it is time someone said so.â€￾ [2]

Now the fat was in the fire! Over the next few days, some two dozen letters appeared, taking one side or the other. The only ones from writers, however, came from other members of the Detection Club, including Dorothy L. Sayers, denouncing Spring's attack. (Christie maintained a dignified silence.) Perhaps Spring looked around among his literary friends and acquaintances to see who might contribute something on his behalf. He had been among the guests at some of Dennis and Joan Wheatley’s parties; DW’s library had half a dozen of Spring’s novels, all inscribed. [3/4] Although Spring considered Edgar Wallace’s books “trash,â€￾ he had praised Wheatley’s thrillers (“Mr Wheatley...never lets you downâ€￾), and raved about his son-in-law’s book of poetry. [5]

When the Standard published three letters on Monday, January 9, one of them was from Dennis Wheatley. It took, however, the odd position that Christie’s sales were so great that the original review would not hurt them, and the publicity would only generate more interest in her work. (Was that the best he could think of on short notice?) He admitted that he himself had written some mystery stories--referring to the Crime Dossiers--but “I did at least give the public something different.â€￾ (Spring's published opinion of one of those: "It is not for me to criticize Murder Off Miami any more than it would be for an art critic to criticize the artist's haystack.") [6]

Just one brief letter appeared on January 10--either no-one was interested in pursuing the debate any further, or the Standard’s editors decided to terminate it. DW does not refer to the controversy in his autobiography (unless it was edited out when the last two volumes were crammed into one), and Carr only used it later as a humorous plot device in The Case of the Constant Suicides (1941). And there it ended.

Or did it? The single Wheatley book constructed like a traditional detective story, Three Inquisitive People, had been shelved in favor of The Forbidden Territory as his debut novel, and had been sitting idle for five years. It’s only a thought, but perhaps now he was more alert to the appeal such puzzles continued to have for readers. Later that year, it would be included in the first-ever Wheatley omnibus, Those Modern Musketeers. [7]

[hr]
[1] John Dickson Carr, writing in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, November 1970.

[2] This information is almost all courtesy of James E. Keirans, who wrote an entire article about the brouhaha recently for a magazine called CADS (Crime And Detective Stories - issue 69), and kindly said I could crib his piece for this site. Keirans is also the author of the new John Dickson Carr Companion, a guide to the works of that “Golden Ageâ€￾ writer.

[3] Phil Baker, The Devil is a Gentleman, 2009.

[4] Blackwell catalog for the sale of Dennis Wheatley’s library, 1979.

[5] Wheatley, Drink and Ink, 1979.

[6] Quoted in Martin Edwards, The Golden Age of Murder, 2015.

[7] "Nothing would have induced me to publish it as a separate volume at my normal new novel rate...because I do not consider it up to the standard of my other books. But...it does tell how the four friends originally met, which may interest people who have already read one or more of the other books and I gladly give it to you for nothing." (Hutchinson never made that mistake again...)
by Jim
Sun 12 Apr, 2015 16:25:23
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Heron Edition Illustrations
Replies: 8
Views: 8640

My own view is that, whilst there were some striking illustrations amongst the 48 (?) volumes, the vast majority were - as you say - appalling. Many of them look to me like the work of some drug-crazed art school drop-out. Given the rather nice overall appearance of the books, one might have though...
by Jim
Sun 29 Mar, 2015 13:35:04
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Heron Edition Illustrations
Replies: 8
Views: 8640

By the way, Jim, is the Ian Fleming book a 007? I remember, as the Bond films appeared, the publishers would use the posters as their paperback covers. As the films only followed the books for the first four, I can't imagine what readers thought when they read something like Diamonds Are Forever an...
by Jim
Sun 29 Mar, 2015 02:26:40
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Heron Edition Illustrations
Replies: 8
Views: 8640

I have numerous Heron volumes, a dozen by DW alone. In general, the illustrations are not very good and some, as noted, are just plain bad. (Among the other authors on my shelves in Heron editions are Agatha Christie, John Galsworthy, Edgar Wallace, Alistair MacLean, and "The Great Masterpieces of R...
by Jim
Tue 17 Mar, 2015 00:55:52
Forum: Off-Topic
Topic: Fu Manchu Article in Fortean Times
Replies: 17
Views: 18504

Amazon US has now listed the release date as May 6, 2014, while Amazon UK still gives a 2013 date. We'll see what happens next... Strange Attractor Press has a Facebook page, and when they recently promoted some item that was coming out (also long overdue by their own admission), I asked if there w...
by Jim
Sun 1 Feb, 2015 23:07:29
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Dennis Wheatley Podcasts
Replies: 77
Views: 73377

To bring this discussion back to Dennis Wheatley it is interesting to note if you look at the original flyer for DW’s Library of the Occult, DW was initially going to include M R James’ Ghost Stories of an Antiquary as Volume 24. Volume 24 ended up being The Monk by Matthew Lewis and the M R Ja...
by Jim
Tue 13 Jan, 2015 22:41:48
Forum: Off-Topic
Topic: Fu Manchu Article in Fortean Times
Replies: 17
Views: 18504

Amazon US has now listed the release date as May 6, 2014, while Amazon UK still gives a 2013 date. We'll see what happens next... Strange Attractor Press has a Facebook page, and when they recently promoted some item that was coming out (also long overdue by their own admission), I asked if there w...
by Jim
Sun 11 Jan, 2015 19:57:56
Forum: General Topics
Topic: BBC 2 TV 'Mastermind'
Replies: 17
Views: 28434

Darren wrote: Gavin Fuller noted the interesting point that there were no questions on The Devil Rides Out.
Perhaps they didn't want any confusion between the novel and the film version. Also, since it is DW's single best-known work, it might not have been considered Mastermind fodder...
by Jim
Wed 10 Dec, 2014 23:23:46
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Dennis Wheatley Podcasts
Replies: 77
Views: 73377

He also mentions that Hammer originally wanted Gert Fröbe (aka Goldfinger) to play Mocata which would have been closer to DW’s description of him, and I think would have been a great choice. However, I am happy with Charles Gray’s menacing portrayal. The only possible drawback is that Fröbe w...
by Jim
Mon 17 Nov, 2014 00:47:37
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Dennis Wheatley's Limericks from the Great War
Replies: 12
Views: 11186

Here, then, are the transcribed limericks--in a separate message, so the virginal can avert their eyes! :twisted: Once an old Bishop of Buckingham Wrote a treatise on women and fucking 'em. But a wily old Turk Wrote a far finer work All about arseholes and sucking 'em. There was an old Bishop of Bir...
by Jim
Sun 16 Nov, 2014 13:44:21
Forum: General Topics
Topic: Dennis Wheatley's Limericks from the Great War
Replies: 12
Views: 11186

I just wish somebody would type these out, as I have some difficulty reading Wheatley's handwriting. Of course, his poor spelling doesn't help. I got that there was a bishop from Birmingham and some frisky business ensues, but there are various words that I can't make out, so I have to guess at wha...

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