How did you 'meet' DW?

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Bob Rothwell
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How did you 'meet' DW?

Post by Bob Rothwell » Sat 19 Nov, 2005 16:52:13

Most of you who have browsed the web site know my tale of discovering DW as a teenager with a torch under the bedclothes when I used to 'borrow' books from my mother's collection. Also the horror of later finding out the collection (all signed copies) had gone, but that even if they hadn't, my mother had always discarded the wrappers as soon as they arrived!

Recently I received some correspondence from Chris Hunter in Moonta, South Australia with a very moving tale of how he had 'met' DW. This has prompted me (with Chris' permisson) to reproduce the tale here in the hope that others will also follow.
Hello Bob,

I must say I have a lot of admiration for aficionados. Passion is the key element and you certainly have that in abundance. Great site. I am writing to you from a small South Australian town called Moonta. It is the only Cornish town built in Australia and was founded in the 1870's as a result of the copper discovery here. It is very picturesque and an ideal setting for a DW novel. A good location for a haunting.

Considering European settlement is relatively new in Australia, this place ranks as one of the older towns. Now if you want real time of ages material you have to enter the dream time of Aboriginal Australia, and then you can bounce back 30,000 years or more without a problem. I wonder what Dennis would have made of that?

I grew up in New Zealand although I was born at Lytham, Lancs., in 1948. Both my parents were New Zealanders, my father being a fighter pilot in the RAF during and after the war.

He was part of an empire squadron flying out of Burma during the conflict. After returning to NZ and a brief spell as administrator of German Samoa, post war, he received a permanent commission in the Queen's squadron in the RAF, and that is how come I was born at Lytham all those years ago. Yes, I'm getting around to my main topic. Dad was posted to Germany and there flew the early jets. Of course, we followed, and my older brother and I became bi-lingual. Everything was going just swimmingly until tragedy struck. My mother developed terminal cancer, became very homesick, Dad resigned his commission, and we all shipped back in 1952, which is the year Mum died. Now what has Dennis Wheatley got to do with all this. Well my father was an avid DW fan and as a youngster [pre TV] I got onto him as well. I remember [like you Bob] freaking myself out with The Haunting of Toby Jug in particular. I can remember Dad telling me how much he liked that particular novel when he was younger, so I guess it was an early edition. Now for another tragedy. Several years ago , Dad and his second wife shifted from the old family home.

They got rid of most of the books. First world war Biggles and God knows, most of my Grandfathers books too. Recently I returned on one of my rare visits and called on my step mother [Dad died 5 years ago]. She is very frail and waving her hand toward the vastly reduced bookshelf said, " You'd better take what you want before you return to Australia." Now as it happens very few of my mothers possessions have survived and I had often rued the fact that I had nothing really personal to remember her by. Her jewelry finished up with my step sister, and other items with my older brother. I found myself attracted to a plain black hardcover with faded gold lettering on the spine.

Obviously without a dust jacket, I drew it from the shelf. You guessed it; 'The man who missed the war.' I idly flicked open the hard cover, and written neatly on the reverse; Lloyd, Love from Helen, April 1946.

And opposite, in my fathers writing; F/Lieut L.T. Hunter. I had my heirloom. A further coincidence being that my stepmothers maiden name was Hutchinson. I presume my mother was aware of my fathers interest in DW. But perhaps there was just one further clue. My middle name is Douglas. Doug James was also a fighter pilot in the war and he and wife Iris are my God parents. They travelled on the same boat with my father, pregnant mother [me], and brother when they returned to England pre Feb 1948. Doug and Iris are still alive [NZ] and were obviously great friends. Wheatley dedicated the book to an' Iris' Sutherland VE day 1945. Could this have influenced my mother in its purchase? I guess I'll never know, but it makes interesting speculation. Of course, I read the book. Somehow it had eluded me in my nonage. And when I reached the final page, and then the final line, and ultimately the final word, I found myself strangely suspended in time, and Chris Hunter, Vietnam Veteran, father of three, tough guy in general, quietly shed a tear.

Well there you have it Bob. A Dennis Wheatley story from the land down under. If I come across anything in my travels connected to DW I'll let you know. I was an old 'Shadows' fan too by the way,

Best wishes,

Chris Hunter.

Gulp! Follow that..........

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meeting DW

Post by Wayne » Sun 20 Nov, 2005 02:18:09

It's hard to beat Chris' story but I thought others might like to know mine.

I had never heard of Wheatley until I met my future wife back in 1970. I supppose it was all her fault as she introduced me to his black magic stories to begin with. I really got into the Roger Brook stories as I took a course on the French Revolution in university and have always been interested in that stage of history.

At the time we were living in Edmonton, Canada and few of Wheatley's books were available. Shortly after our marriage (in 1971) we made a trip to Europe. While in England I filled up our suitcases with as many Wheatleys as I could find. However, I was still frustrated as I couldn't find numerous volumes in many of the series. (We didn't have that much time there and the wife did want to do other things besides haunting bookshops - go figure!)

It wasn't until we eventually moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1972 that I was able to finally fill in the blank spots in my collection. Having achieved that feat, I decided to get all of wheatley's books in hardback (with dust jackets, if possible). Fortunately in 1984, we moved to another part of Melbourne and there was a terrific second-hand book store just around the corner. I was able to collect a huge ammount of titles (mostly in the Lymington editions, but some first editions as well). It was there that I first came across the murder dossiers and was able to acquire those as well.

Since then I have managed to find almost all Wheatley's books in hardcover (but not always with the dustjackets). I only have about 3 to go and I still hold out hope as I managed to pick up a good first edition of The Shadow of Tyburn Tree just last year.

I still haunt second-hand bookstores and school fetes/fairs. You never know when you will come across a real gem!

Wayne

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Post by Garry Holmes » Sat 3 Dec, 2005 14:13:21

The first Wheatley that I read was in the late 70's (I suspect that it was about '79). A friend of my sisters was a great fan of DW and suggested to us that we might like to read them. At the time there was a second hand bookstall in the local open air market. They had an enormous box full of Wheatleys covering most of the major titles and characters. The first one that I purchased (for 10p!) was 'The Forbidden Territory'. At the time my two local libraries had a largish stock of DW, but within a year or so they were selling them off at knock down prices. Guess who had been saving up their pocket money? And so I collected a great many DW hardbacks.

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My meeting with DW

Post by scotsmanmatt » Wed 21 Dec, 2005 21:09:36

First of all let me say hello to you all. I'm new to the forum and glad to have found it. I only have vague recollection of my first encounter with DW books but I'm pretty sure it was through, 'The Satanist' and/or, 'The Devil Rides Out'. After reading these I was kind of hooked and began picking up anything by DW I could get my hands upon. Then I read, 'The Shadow of Tyburn Tree' and became immediately enamoured with DW as an author. The book in my opinion is sheer brilliance and I try to get it into the hands of whomever I can. I've also purchased 20 odd of the Heron publication which have pride of place in my library and to which I hope soon to complete. Wheatley's books are fantastic and have my own plans on how to make them more widely available and popular in this day and age but more of that later.

Thanks for listening..

Matt

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Post by Bob Rothwell » Thu 22 Dec, 2005 21:43:54

A warm welcome to you Matt and thanks for your contribution. Just wondering - can you remember how long ago your first encounter was?

Looking forward to hearing more about your last sentence!

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Post by rikewoo1 » Fri 23 Dec, 2005 23:07:58

I first met DW, in about 1949, with They Found Atlantis, followed by Uncharted Seas and the Man who Missed the war. From then on I was hooked. he has always been my favourite author, along with Colin Wilson.

In Greenwich where we lived at the time, we had a fantastic library, dedicated by Andrew Carnegie, they always kept up to date with a vast selection of subjects. I have never yet found a library to better it.

Over the years I have collected his books and now have almost a complete collection of his works. Haven't got Red Eagle or the Murder Mysteries, unless they were published under another title which I may have.

First met Gregory Sallust in V for Vengence, but as we had just finished the war had a much more meaning for me, having lived in London most of the time.

DW, was responsible for directing my reading into more arcane subjects after reading his "Satanic novels", and it still goes on. I have not re-read his books yet but intend to do so in the next few years. They will all be"new" to me and I can enjoy them afresh.

Ken
Last edited by rikewoo1 on Sat 24 Dec, 2005 21:32:36, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by scotsmanmatt » Sat 24 Dec, 2005 19:04:11

Bob Rothwell wrote:A warm welcome to you Matt and thanks for your contribution. Just wondering - can you remember how long ago your first encounter was?

Looking forward to hearing more about your last sentence!
Hi Bob.... Probably 10 years ago that I read my first DW novel. Right now I'm working through The Launching of Roger Brook which I've read twice already but it's a magnificent book.

Thanks

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Post by Mike Fletcher » Sat 4 Mar, 2006 11:31:33

I first met DW early in 1979 when transferred to a new office in Salford. Travelling from Hazel Grove by bus, train, bus took about 1½ hours each way then. When I ran out of material, a colleague suggested I try DW. "No thanks", said I, "isn't he into black magic?". Having received a tirade of mockery, I felt obliged if not persuaded to try out his offer to feed me one of DW's series in order one at a time just to see how I went.

I can still recall the first night I travelled home armed with the test offering. I can recall because having started it on the train home, I stayed up until the small hours reading it to a conclusion. Well, that was me sold and I gratefully accepted the next ones on loan until he himself was transferred elsewhere. I can also remember vividly having to get off at the next station up the line because I had missed mine whilst engrossed in a DW!

Oh yes, I haven't mentionned which one brought me together with DW. Like Matt in an earlier post, it was The Launching of Roger Brook. I don't care what Bob and other members say - Roger Brook rules, OK?
Fletch

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Post by Bob Rothwell » Sat 4 Mar, 2006 18:29:10

Nice story, Mike, thanks for that.
scotsmanmatt wrote:Right now I'm working through The Launching of Roger Brook which I've read twice already but it's a magnificent book.
Mike Fletcher wrote:I don't care what Bob and other members say - Roger Brook rules, OK?
O.K., I'll rise to the bait! I challenge you to find out where I have ever denegrated RB! :o In fact (although he only comes out as No.2 behind deR in my list) I have often said that the RB series should be compulsory reading material for any serious study of The French Revolution. As to immersing myself in a good old Boys Own adventure, an RB story beats them all. Would also, imo, make an excellent TV series, being a mix of The Scarlet Pimpernel and Sharpe. Any ideas as to who should take the lead role?

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Post by Sir Pellinore » Fri 17 Mar, 2006 08:52:40

It's been interesting trying to recall exactly when I first became conscious of DW. My sister, who is ten years older than I, would buy his books (paperbacks) during the sixties, and, though I never read any till years after, the lurid cover graphics would hold my attention. I was born in the mid-fifties so was about eight or ten I guess. The images I have in my minds eye today of these are mainly of swastikas, devil-worship, fire and brimstone, all guaranteed to stimulate further within me a nascent leaning towards the darker side of things!

I suppose the definite act which cemented my relationship with DW was when, at the grand old age of thirteen, I went to see "The Devil Rides Out" at the local fleapit. I was large for my age and had no bother getting in to see an "X" film, indeed, the challenge was part of the attraction. I was held spellbound from the opening titles to the end credits, stayed in my seat as the lights came up, remained there till they went down again, and watched the whole thing all over again. But it wasn't Le Duc or Rex van Ryn with whom I empathised; It was the delightful Mr Mocata.

I bought the book very soon after, and read it, I recall, on consecutive summer afternoons, sitting in the garden of my parent's house in a deckchair. By the time I finished the book I was determined to find out more about the "Black Arts", and also dedicate myself to another major theme running through DM's work, that of epicureanism.

In the course of my endeavours researching the "Left Hand Path" I soon discovered the real life model for the character of Mocata, namely Aleister Crowley. No doubt the members of the Library are already aquainted in some way with this gentleman, but I hope I might later be able to contribute some original ramblings about him as a link to the "real world" (albeit historical), from the world of DW, assuming that members aren't too bored my my self-indulgances. As for fine living as an art and science, I have much to thank DW for, and equally as much with which I would like to lay the blame firmly at his feet!

I'll sign off now (the "Morning Line" Cheltenham special is about to start and my breakfast awaits), I would just quickly mention that the other book of DW's which I treasure especially fond memories of is "They Used Dark Forces", which I read in Nueremberg (one of my favourite places) in about 1980.

A tout à l'heure!
"Cupid and Bacchus my saints are,
May drink and love still reign"

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Post by Bob Rothwell » Fri 17 Mar, 2006 23:26:24

Fascinating beginning and probably not too dissimilar to many others baptism. However I do hope you're going to support DWs warnings about not dabbling with the dark side!

Look forward to further disclosures.........

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Post by Sir Pellinore » Fri 17 Mar, 2006 23:53:39

Bob Rothwell wrote:Fascinating beginning and probably not too dissimilar to many others baptism. However I do hope you're going to support DWs warnings about not dabbling with the dark side!

Look forward to further disclosures.........
Oh, I'm well past worrying if anything untoward would happen to me or not. Been there, bought the t-shirt etc. and I'm only just slightly barmier than when I invited "dark forces" into my life. The tax man is a far more potent servant of manifest evil than Lucifuge Rocofale or any other of Hell's minions ever was!
"Cupid and Bacchus my saints are,
May drink and love still reign"

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Post by Bob Rothwell » Sat 18 Mar, 2006 00:35:06

It may be too late for you, Sir, but what about the rest of us? :smt087

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Post by Diamondhairdan » Fri 21 Apr, 2006 23:08:55

Well, at the age of around 8 or 9 I was given a copy of The Forbidden Territory and told, "just read the first page, and see if you want to carry on.." I never looked back, and have since read twenty-odd of his novels. Mind you, its 16 years later, so I might be tempted to read the thing again soon!

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Post by Bob Rothwell » Sat 22 Apr, 2006 23:05:56

Thanks for that, Diamondhairdan. Coincidentally, I've just finished a re-read of FT and thoroughly enjoyed it again. What is more interesting, though, is that I have heard from two Russian correspondents that they have recently read it, enjoyed it and couldn't fault it.

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