As a best-selling author of adventure stories, in 1934 Wheatley turned to a new subject matter: “… so I decided to use the theme of Black Magic”, resulting in his most famous work – The Devil Rides Out.
The main protagonists in this extremely disturbing novel take on a devil-worshiping cult. After harrowing nocturnal attacks by black-magic forces, including the Angel of Death, they eventually defeat the cult leader in an exciting denouement.
Wheatley was eminently qualified to write such a book, having read extensively concerning ancient and comparative religions. In preparation, he also did copious research on the occult, reading both factual and fictional sources. Further, a friend introduced him to proponents of the occult, Aleister Crowley, Montague Summers and Rollo Ahmed.
Wheatley went on to write further occult novels, some of which were filmed.
Wheatley wrote 65 books but is probably remembered most for his books on the occult. The hallmark of these was an author’s note which first appeared in his ‘Black Magic’ novel The Devil Rides Out:
I desire to state that I, personally, have never assisted at, or participated in, any ceremony connected with Magic – Black or White. (. . .) Should any of my readers incline to a serious study of the subject, and thus come into contact with a man or woman of Power, I feel that it is only right to urge them, most strongly, to refrain from being drawn into the practice of the Secret Art in any way. My own observations have led me to an absolute conviction that to do so would bring them into dangers of a very real and concrete nature.
The gallery below has more information about his occult works.