In 1961 DW lost his favourite Stepson, Bill Younger.
The curious mixture of a poet and an MI5 operative, DW had nurtured Bill since he first met Joan, publishing at his own expense Bill’s first volume of poetry. Bill then went on to write not only three further volumes of poetry, but five works of well regarded detective fiction under the pseudonym William Mole (for more on these publications, click here)
His death was something of a shock – early in 1961 Bill and his wife had gone on holiday to Taormina in Sicily, and he appeared to catch Asiatic ‘flu. He did not appear to be in any danger and after a short spell in bed the doctor told him he could get up. Bill went out for an hour’s stroll, had a relapse and was dead before the doctor could be called for.
As DW wrote, “I was more distressed by the news of his death than by any other event in my life and I actually shed tears, a thing I had not done since my infancy.”
So unexpected was the death that, on learning of the assassination of Georgi Markov by the Bulgarian Secret Service in 1978, the Wheatley family wondered if Bill Younger had been the subject of a similar fate.
References : Drink and Ink pp 255-257.
Phil Baker p 534.
Provenance : Private collection