Dennis Wheatley (1897-1977)

Black Magic… and other things

Famous for his books about Satanism and the occult, Dennis Yates Wheatley, lived at Grove Place, Lymington, from 1945 to 1968. He also wrote numerous best-selling thrillers and other works.

Born in Brixton, London, Wheatley spent an unhappy year at Dulwich College before being expelled. He then became a Royal Navy cadet on HMS Worcester. During the First World War he was commissioned in the Royal Field Artillery and spent a year on the Western Front, where he was gassed and invalided home. In 1919 he took over management of the family’s wine business, Wheatley and Son of Mayfair. The business declined in the Great Depression and he sold it in 1931. He began writing soon after, on the suggestion of his second wife Joan Pelham Burn.

During the Second World War Wheatley was a member of the London Controlling Section, which secretly coordinated strategic military deception and covert plans. Wheatley and his wife visited Lymington in 1944, and subsequently bought Grove Place for £6,400. They moved back to London in 1968, where he died in 1977.

Wheatley’s books make great use of the eerie landscapes of Britain and the New Forest in particular. In this film, Egyptologist and cultural historian John J Johnston talks about author Dennis Wheatley and his connections to the Eerie.

This online exhibition runs alongside St Barbe’s blockbuster exhibition ‘Unsettling Landscapes: The Art of the Eerie’.

The following pages provide a glimpse into his work, life and interests.

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Acknowledgements

Text by Martin Newton and Gail Engert.

In addition to the collection held by St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery we are extremely grateful for the kind permission to use the research and images (indicated by ©DW) which are courtesy of Charles Beck and © www.denniswheatley.info.

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