The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation
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Doctor Phil Baker

Nationality: United Kingdom

Year: 2005

Subject Area: Arts and Humanities

Dennis Wheatley was a giant of twentieth century thriller writing. His books exemplify what has been nicely called “the luxury tradition of cheap fiction,” and it has been said that to understand Wheatley is to understand British popular taste. My biography relates his Black Magic thrillers to his covert mission as a writer of propaganda, from the Thirties – when his classic The Devil Rides Out was an Appeasement novel, with a subtext of peace with Germany – through the Cold War and beyond. Drawing on unpublished memoirs and correspondence, it has extensive new material on his formative friendship with a fraudster named Tombe, murdered in 1922; his later friendship with Anthony Powell; and his relationship with MI5 and other branches of the secret establishment, including his role in a Fifties scheme to revive Islam. With the help of the Wingate Foundation I have recently completed The Devil Is A Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley, and am now seeking a publisher.