Gregory Pendennis Library Of Black Sorcery

Archive for the ‘Phil Baker’ Category

Phil Baker – The Devil is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley

Posted by demonik on November 21, 2009

Phil Baker – The Devil is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley (Dedalus, October 31st, 2009)



Cover design: Jonathan Barker

One of the giants of popular fiction, with total sales of around fifty million books, Dennis Wheatley held twentieth-century Britain spellbound. His Black Magic novels like The Devil Rides Out created an oddly seductive and luxurious vision of Satanism, but in reality he was as interested in politics as occultism. Wheatley was closely involved with the secret intelligence community, and this powerfully researched study shows just how directly this drove his work, from his unlikely warnings about the menace of Satanic Trade Unionism to his role in a British scheme to engineer a revival of Islam.

Drawing on a wealth of unpublished material, Phil Baker examines Wheatley’s key friendship with a fraudster named Eric Gordon Tombe, and uncovers the full story of his sensational 1922 murder. Baker also explores Wheatley’s relationships with occult figures such as Rollo Ahmed, Aleister Crowley, and the Reverend Montague Summers, the shady priest and demonologist who inspired the memorably evil character of Canon Copely-Syle, in To The Devil – A Daughter.

Like Sax Rohmer and John Buchan, Wheatley has now moved from being perceived as dated to positively vintage, and this groundbreaking biography offers a major reassessment of his significance and status.



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Fortean Times #256 (Dec. 2009): Wheatley!

Posted by demonik on November 21, 2009

David Stton (ed.) – Fortean Times #256 (Dec. 2009)

Yep, something of a mini-Wheatley special! Even the editorial by David Sutton et al is mainly devoted to “Britain’s Occult Uncle”‘s scary A Letter To Posterity. Best of all, lead feature, Dennis And All His Works is by Phil Baker himself and serves as an intriguing taster for the biography as the five pages of text concern themselves with the interesting stuff, namely the Black Magic novels and Wheatley’s commendable WWII exploits as a deception planner and propagandist. Mr. Baker suggests that Wheatley wasn’t quite the expert on black sorcery he made himself out to be (i gather he’s far more explicit in the biog), but most modern Occultists, however loathe they are to admit it, probably got into the game via a dogeared copy of The Devil Rides Out. In passing, Mr. Baker also detects the Wheatley influence on June Johns’ Black Magic Today and Sandra Shulman’s The Degenerates, both “published by iconic paperback imprint New English Library which also published Richard Allen’s Skinhead books.” Considering the little space at his disposal, Mr. Baker works in plenty of tantalising snippets including the true identity of ‘Conky Bill, and the revelation that Wheatley & chums perpetrated a ‘Linda Lovecraft’ style scam in the Daily Mail when they introduced glamourous socialite Ermintrude Wraxwell to the gossip column (“next day, offers started coming in from agents and film companies. Had we named a real girl, we could have made a fortune from her.”). Even the flame girl covers get a paragraph! Also, from nowhere, Curtain Of Fear and Such Power Is Dangerous have abseiled to near the top of my wants list although, admittedly, perhaps not for the reasons DW would’ve wished.

Somebody up there likes us because as an added bonus, there’s another six pager, this one by Stewart T. Stanyard, celebrating fiftieth anniversary of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone.

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