Blue Murder and my DW visit to the British Library

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Darren
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Blue Murder and my DW visit to the British Library

Post by Darren » Mon 24 Feb, 2014 16:33:07

Hi Folks,

With the eve of the 2014 DW Convention being the 80th anniversary of the first publication of TDRO (serialised in the Daily Mail) I was curious about DW's newspaper serialisations. I found the following list of DW Daily Mail serialisations on the internet:

The Devil Rides Out, October 31 - December 22, 1934
They Found Atlantis, January 8 - March 4, 1936
Contraband, September 24 - November 3, 1936
Blue Murder, October 6 - November 16, 1937

Blue Murder? I hadn't heard of that one before. Consultation with a few DW colleagues did not solve the mystery.

I had three possible explanations:
1. My source website was wrong and Blue Murder was a serialisation of a novel by a different author (the most likely and least exciting explanation);
2. Blue Murder was published in book form under a different title (the next most likely explanation); or
3. Blue Murder was a once only publication (the least likely but most exciting explanation).

So last month I headed off to London to visit the British Library to look it up. With me I had photocopies of the first page of all DW novels and crime dossiers from the 1930s to compare.

I settled down in one of the reading rooms and turned to page 22 of the Daily Mail, 6th October 1937, and I saw the headline BLUE MURDER by Dennis Wheatley.

I read the first lines: "Another huge wave crashed against the ship. She gave a ghastly lurch, lifted with alarming rapidity".

I compared this with my photocopies and there it was, the opening line to Unchartered Seas: "Another great wave hit the ship a resounding thud. She gave a sickening lurch, lifted with alarming rapidity". So the serialisation is actually Unchartered Seas, which makes sense as that was the next book published by DW after this date.

It is interesting how the first line of the book differs from the newspaper version.

Daily Mail: Another huge wave crashed against the ship. She gave a ghastly lurch, lifted with alarming rapidity
Book: Another great wave hit the ship a resounding thud. She gave a sickening lurch, lifted with alarming rapidity

I expected the newspaper version to be condensed but the adjective changes surprised me. I compared more - though I only had the first page of the book with me. In the next paragraph the luxury liner Gafelborg was 2400 tons, but in my Lymington version the ship has increased to 3600tons.

There are 12 lines missing in the newspaper version from the first page of the book and the blue-eyed Swede in the book becomes the blue-eyed Swedish barman in the Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail would have made the cuts, but I wonder if they also changed the details, or whether the Daily Mail version is DW's original and his publishers made the alterations prior to publication in book form.

I spent 2 days at the British Library exploring as many Dennis Wheatley related Daily Mail entries I could find - all the way up to his obituary (titled "AUTHOR WHO MADE A MILLION OUT OF SATAN"). I found letters to the editor, an article by E.H.Tattersall visiting Dennis Wheatley's house in St John's Wood to see "the season's debutantes" at a "dance given for Mrs Wheatley's daughter, Miss Diana Younger", many articles by Dennis Wheatley including one titled "WHERE is ATLANTIS?" which was in the 7th January 1936 edition of the Daily Mail - the day before "They Found Atlantis" was serialised. There are also adverts of serialisations of other DW novels in other magazines such as Woman's Own and Farmers Weekly.

I've got heaps of articles printed off which I will update this site with as I study them. I need to get a magnifying glass as I had to reduce some of them in size to fit them on sheets of A4.

I also got copies of the first 2 instalments of TDRO to bring to this year's convention in case we want to have a group reading on the 80th anniversary (part 1 - 31.10.1934, part 2 - 01.11.1934).
Regards,

Darren.

Charles
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Post by Charles » Tue 25 Feb, 2014 17:28:20

Well done, Darren !

When you told me what you proposed, I could hardly contain my excitement, and I think you've made a very major contribution to DW research by confirming that Blue Murder (listed as 'in preparation' in his previous novel) is in fact Uncharted Seas - albeit with alterations.

Curiously, 'The Devil Rides Out' serialisation also has alterations, as does the serialisation of 'They Found Atlantis' ... I haven't checked 'Contraband'.

I was completely unaware of the 'Where is Atlantis' article, and you have also thrown in another tantalising snippet ... I was aware of a serialisation in Women's Own, but a serialisation in 'Farmers Weekly' .... of what pray ??? The mind boggles !!!

Again congratulations on your sterling and ground breaking research.

Wherever one looks there are items to explore, and I'm sure it won't be long before someone does a PhD thesis on at least one aspect of DW's life and work.

Perhaps (if your enormously busy work schedule allows) if will be you, and one day we will be greeting 'Dr Darren' ...

Again thanks for a seriously exciting post !
Charles

Jim
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Post by Jim » Thu 27 Feb, 2014 03:16:46

More goodies for The Uncollected Dennis Wheatley...

Steve Whatley
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Post by Steve Whatley » Thu 27 Feb, 2014 19:43:08

Hi Darren,

Interesting stuff indeed. I was aware that the serialisation of 'The Devil Rides Out' was 'abridged', so I suppose it follows that the other serialisations would be abridged too. As DW's novels were notoriously longer than the average for their day (or so he claimed), I suppose some editing would be inevitable if the serial were not to drag on too long.

I note that the publication date for 'The Devil Rides Out' was 12 December - ten days before the serialisation ended. This set me thinking about the marketing strategy. Hutchinson would want the book to be published before the end of the story was revealed in the daily paper. The Daily Mail probably would have preferred publication of the book to be delayed until after the serialisation was completed.

I know from other sources that Joan gave two small dances for Diana at 8 St. John's Wood Park in 1937 (1 March and 10 May), and I'd be most interested to read a report from one of these occasions.

Further details of the results of your research are eagerly awaited.

All Best, Steve
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Darren
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Post by Darren » Sat 1 Mar, 2014 10:46:38

Following on from that, Steve, below I have listed the serialisation dates and then the book publication dates. There doesn't seem to be a consistent marketing strategy with the timing of the book release in relation to the serialisation.

The Devil Rides Out
serialised 31 October - 22 December, 1934
published 12 December 1934

They Found Atlantis
serialised 8 January - 4 March, 1936
published 2 January 1936

Contraband
serialised 24 September - 3 November, 1936
published 9 October 1936

Blue Murder AKA Unchartered Seas
serialised 6 October - 16 November, 1937
published 21 January 1938

They Found Atlantis is curious in that it was serialised 6 days after it was first published.
Both Contraband and TDRO were published during the serialisation period.
Unchartered Seas is the only one published after the serialisation had finished - quite a considerable time as well, over 9 weeks.
Regards,

Darren.

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Post by shanedwyer » Tue 11 Mar, 2014 16:11:18

Absolutely outstanding research Darren: You’re this site's answer to Howard Carter!

What’s really caught my interest is the wealth of ‘marginalia’ thrown up by your delving into the archives. The incidental insights into DW’s life, such as the report on the dance given for his daughter, the letters, the obituary etc. sound fascinating. I’m really looking forward to hearing the details this autumn.

KLP85
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Post by KLP85 » Tue 1 Mar, 2016 18:31:15

Just an update after reading this thread. For Charles information the serialisation in Farmers Weekly Friday August 17 1934 Vol 1 No.9 is The Forbidden Territory just purchased a copy.

Charles
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Post by Charles » Wed 2 Mar, 2016 23:48:00

Nice work - thank you for that info, which is greatly appreciated !

Best wishes !
Charles

Darren
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Post by Darren » Thu 3 Mar, 2016 13:26:43

KLP85 wrote:Just an update after reading this thread. For Charles information the serialisation in Farmers Weekly Friday August 17 1934 Vol 1 No.9 is The Forbidden Territory just purchased a copy.
This may be the first serialisation of any DW book. I am not aware of any earlier ones.

Kevin - is TFT serialised over numerous editions of Farmers Weekly or is it all condensed in the one you have managed to get?

It is curious that The Forbidden Territory was serialised in August 1934. DW had published 4 further books after TFT up to this date, the most current one being The Fabulaous Valley published the same month. All DW's later serialisations came out close to the date of the publication of the book being serialised.

:smt026
Regards,

Darren.

Charles
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Post by Charles » Thu 3 Mar, 2016 22:37:22

Agreed odd - and interesting !

All best !
Charles

KLP85
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Post by KLP85 » Wed 13 Apr, 2016 11:13:19

Hi Darren, I've passed on this study group to Charles now so he may be able to judge more about it. The seller only had three issues August 17th,24th,31st 1934 it was serialised in parts 2 pages per issue. The three issues I got followed on from each other but it was not at the start of the story so it had been running before the 17th (maybe Charles will be able to work out how many issues back going by length of passages in the three copies obtained)

Charles
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Post by Charles » Tue 24 May, 2016 09:43:35

Research done - sorry it took a while, but I was in South East Asia last month, and it's taken me a while to dig myself back into everything.

Farmers Weekly appears to have come out every Friday, and each week they seem to have reprinted two chapters from the book. Nearly everything is as per the published book, but a few passages have been truncated - presumably because page space was limited in a 'weekly' publication. The episodes Kevin passed me are for 17th Aug 1934 (Chapters 11-12), 24th August (Chapters 13-14) and 31st August (Chapters 15-16).

Looking at a 1934 calendar (the wonders of the internet ...) that suggests the serialisation ran from 13th July to 12th October.

The illustrations are rather wonderful (typical of the era) and all being well I will put them on the website in the next (May) update.

Thank you both again for your researches - and if anyone comes across any other episodes from this, or any of the other serialisations, do please let me know !

Best wishes to all !
Charles

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