An English writer whose prolific output of thrillers and occult novels made him one of the world’s best-selling authors from the 1930s through the 1960s. His Gregory Sallust series was one of the main inspirations for Ian Fleming‘s James Bond stories.
Wheatley was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant into the Royal Field Artillery during the First World War, receiving his basic training at Biscot Camp in Luton. He was assigned to the City of London Brigade and the 36th (Ulster) Division. Wheatley was gassed in a chlorine attack during Passchendaele and was invalided out, having served in Flanders, on the Ypres Salient, and in France at Cambrai and Saint Quentin.
In 1919 he took over management of the family’s wine business. In 1931, however, after business had declined because of the Great Depression, he sold the firm and began writing.
During the Second World War Wheatley was a member of the London Controlling Section, which secretly coordinated strategic military deception and cover plans. His literary talents led to his working with planning staffs for the War Office. He wrote numerous papers for them, including suggestions for dealing with a possible Nazi invasion of Britain (recounted in his works Stranger than Fiction and The Deception Planners). The most famous of his submissions to the Joint Planning Staff of the war cabinet was on “Total War”. He received a direct commission in the JP Service as a Wing Commander, RAFVR, and took part in the plans for the Normandy invasions. After the war Wheatley was awarded the U.S. Bronze Star for his role in the war effort.
Wheatley mainly wrote adventure novels, with many books in a series of linked works.
During the 1930s, Wheatley conceived a series of mysteries the reader had to inspect this evidence to solve the mystery before unsealing the last pages of the file, which gave the answer. Wheatley also devised several board games including Invasion (1938), Blockade (1939) and Alibi (April 1953)
Some of his books were made into films by Hammer, of which the best known is The Devil Rides Out (book 1934, film 1968). Wheatley also wrote non-fiction works, edited several collections of short stories, and from 1974 through 1977, he supervised a series of 45 paperback reprints for the British publisher Sphere with the heading “The Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult”.