The Early Years
Dennis Wheatley was born on Friday 8th January 1897 shortly before 8 o'clock in the evening.
He was the eldest of two children born to Florence (or 'Dolly') and Albert (known as 'Bert') Wheatley - a sister Muriel was born a few years later.
Both Dennis's grandfathers were successful self-made men. 'Ready-money' Wheatley ran away from home in Cambridgeshire and became a prosperous grocer, poulterer and wine merchant, gaining the nickname 'ready money' because he always paid for his purchases with cash - dipping into a bag of gold sovereigns and becoming a favoured customer of suppliers who normally had to deal on credit. He had eight children and Albert, Dennis's father, looked after the family's wine concern.
Dennis's maternal grandfather was William Yeats Baker, an even more successful self made man who worked his way from being an office boy in an Iron Company to a leading ironmaster supplying gasometers to towns up and down the U.K., and was an art connoisseur to boot.
At eight Dennis was sent to Boarding School in Margate, and just before his twelfth birthday in 1909 he was moved as a day boy to Dulwich.
DW hated it at Dulwich - he had no spare time, and found the masters unimaginative. He ran away with a friend with the aim of making his way to Canada, but after a cold night in the countryside shattered their illusions they gave up on their plans. A few days later, having been beaten and then absconded from a follow-up penalty lesson, much to his father's fury, he was expelled.
In January 1910, DW was then placed in H M S Worcester, a late Napoleonic training ship moored off the Kent coast between Dartford & Tilbury. Life was harsh, especially for the juniormost students, but DW bent the rules to make himself comfortable, and although conditions remained harsh, he enjoyed his last two years.
On leaving Worcester, his father sent him to the Moselle to learn the wine trade under a business colleague, Herr Julius Kayser. DW learned a bit about the wine trade, but basically had a lot of fun. He returned to England in late 1913 and was put to work doing a variety of low level jobs in his father's wine firm.