Dennis Wheatley and Aleister Crowley
The common myth says that Dennis Wheatley was close friends with Aleister Crowley, the infamous Satanist, and that he was possibly even a member of one of the secret societies to which Crowley belonged. The character of Mocata, the villain of The Devil Rides Out, Wheatley’s most famous work, is without doubt modelled on Crowley. Wheatley’s private library included a copy of Crowley’s book ‘Magick in Theory and Practice’ with a personal dedication of photo of the self-styled ‘Beast 666’. Surely there must have been a connection?
…. Unfortunately, the truth is less impressive than all the fiction about the alleged connection between the two men. After trying out thriller writing, in 1934 Wheatley decided to reinvigorate the Victorian genre of occult stories. Ever meticulous, he started from thoroughly researching the topic. Through his friend from the Labour MP, socialite and MI5 agent, Tom Driberg, Wheatley gained an introduction to the notorious and feared Alistair Crowley. He invited him to dinner to the exclusive Hungaria restaurant in Lower Regent Street. Noone knows what happened during the dinner – we might assume that Crowley enjoyed the food, as he inscribed the book he gave to Wheatley ‘In memory of our sublime Hungarian banquet’. We might also assume that Wheatley’s curiosity about the occult was satisfied, as he finished ‘The Devil Rides Out’ a few months afterwards. Wheatley and Crowley were never in contact again.
In words of Dominic Wheatley, Dennis’ grandson: “I think Dennis was fascinated to meet Aleister Crowley. He had a terrible reputation. But he was not in any way a fan and they never struck up any kind of relationship.”