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What Dennis Wheatley thought of his own books


Dennis Wheatley was a very candid author, and wrote interesting critiques of his own output. These can be found not only in his autobiography but also in a few inscribed copies of his books.

I’ve collated below those opinions I have come across.

If anyone has anything they can add to the list, I would be most grateful if they would contact me

Note : The date shown in the ‘Comment in’ column is the date of the edition in which the comment has been inscribed. Sometimes the comment may have been written some time after the publication of the book.

DAI = ‘Drink and Ink’

Title

First
published

Comment in

Comment

The Forbidden Territory

1933

Inscribed 1st of Three Inquisitive People (1940) – see also below

A much better book [than Three Inquisitive People]

 

 

DAI  p113

I thought it much better than my murder story [i.e. Three Inquisitive People] and Hutchinsons agreed

Such Power is Dangerous

1933

Inscribed 7th Thousand
(circa 1936)

This is I think my worst book yet but some people who like straight gangster stuff thought it not too bad

Old Rowley

1933

DAI  p119

A very light biography of that clever and lovable King

Black August

1934

Inscribed 1st

This is really good 

The Fabulous Valley

1934

DAI  p131

Although the book sold well, I never thought much of it. One reviewer said rightly: ‘Mr Wheatley should make up his mind whether he is going to write a thriller or a guide-book’

The Devil Rides Out

1934

Inscribed 1st

This is a good one

 

 

Inscribed 136th Thousand
(circa 1948)

Published 1935 & quite a classic now. 1954.

They Found Atlantis

1936

DAI  p142

One of the best I have ever written

Uncharted Seas

1938

Inscribed 1st

Not a patch on They Found Atlantis

The Golden Spaniard

1938

Inscribed 1952edn

A very good story. The four friends being on opposite sides was taken from Dumas "Twenty Years After"

 

 

DAI  p154

The book  .... is one of the best I have ever written

The Quest of Julian Day

1939

Letter to his friend Loder Downing dated 11.03.39

(I) agree not up to the standard of the Golden Spaniard. I was a bit tired when I sat down to Julian Day

The Scarlet Impostor

1940

DAI  p169

 One hundred and seventy two thousand words in seven weeks and one of the best books I have ever written

 

 

DAI  p175

I thought The Scarlet Impostor the best book I had ever written

Three Inquisitive People

1939/1940

DW’s first written book.
Those Modern Musketeers
(1939) p xiv

 ... I do not consider it up to the standard of my other books

 

 

Inscribed 1st
( 1940)

M.S. accepted by Hutchinson for publication in 1932, But I had by then written The Forbidden Territory, a much better book and I had that published instead. D.W.'

The Black Baroness

1940

Inscribed 1st

The best of my Gregory Sallust War Stories

 

 

Inscribed 1st

If not the best, certainly one of the best of my Gregory Sallust stories

Strange Conflict

1941

DAI  p 214

How, during that winter, with Total War, After the Battle, and all these other activities on my hands, I ever managed to write it I cannot now imagine.

V for Vengeance

1942

Inscribed 1st

Not one of my best Gregory Sallust stories

Come into my Parlour

1946

Inscribed 1st

One of my best Gregory Sallust stories

The Haunting of Toby Jugg

1948

Inscribed 1st

Many people say that although there is little action in this tale it has more suspense than any other occult story I have ever written.

 

 

Inscribed 1st

Perhaps not as exciting as some of my other occult stories, but a pretty good study of the psychology of fear.

The Second Seal

1950

Inscribed 1st

One of my best books - covering a wonderfull (sic) period.

 

 

DAI  p252

I consider it my best book

The Man Who Killed the King

1951

Inscribed 1st

The best of my Roger Brook stories

Curtain of Fear

1953

Inscribed 1st

[in his wife’s copy] One of my worst books !

The Dark Secret of Josephine

1955

Inscribed 1st

A good Roger Brook story but not up to "The man who killed the King"

Dangerous Inheritance

1965

Inscribed 1st

I think the Duke's ruse to save his friends makes a really good end to his [fascinating career] (last two words indistinct)

They Used Dark Forces

1964

Inscribed galley proof

Perhaps the best of the Gregory Sallust series

Evil in a Mask

1969

Inscribed 1st

This is the 9th of my Roger Brook series. Poor Roger got into a fine mess, owing to his enforced trip to Brazil; but the end of the story is a good one.



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