Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Dennis Wheatley's house

The British author Dennis Wheatley (1897-1977) is remembered fondly for his lurid novels of witchcraft, satanism and gothic horror. I say 'fondly' because his work is nowhere near as popular today as it was during his lifetime. His stories of the devilish dabblings of the gentry in placid inter-war England seem somewhat hackneyed by modern standards.

His fall from (dis)grace has been variously laid at the feet of several phenomena. His work was popular until the 1960s and the Hammer Horror adaptation of The Devil Rides Out is rightly regarded as a classic of British horror movies. However, his stories became less attractive in the 70s when the horror market shifted its focus from the literal to the psychological. The devil and his minions were now feared because of the havoc they wrecked from within. Rosemary carried her blasphemous baby, Leatherface and his clan were clearly insane and Freddy was just a dream. In addition, it has been argued that Wheatley had been so successful in embedding his ideas in the public consciousness that it's hard for modern audiences to see just how innovative and ground-breaking his work was.

Wheatley settled in a house called Clinton in the London borough of Lambeth. When he lived there the road on which it sat was gated and guarded by a porter and it was in impressive edifice. It looked like one of the wealthy abodes he liked to include in his tales - a grand aspect, neoclassical ornamentation, balconies and very English gables. Sadly it is no longer inhabited and has now fallen into disrepair. It is a forlorn sight, and its sad end perhaps mirrors the fate of the stories penned by its most memorable occupant.

Sources here and here and thanks to Paulo for putting me on the trail.


2 comments:

  1. We MUST absolutely buy this place +somehow+. Maybe a spot of left hand path dabbling? ;) xPx

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  2. You buy the house - I'll supply the virgins for sacrifice...

    ReplyDelete