The website devoted to the life and times of the world's most notorious swindler
Whitaker Wright by Harry Furniss pen and ink, 1880s-1900s. NPG 3534 © National Portrait Gallery, London
Few people have led such an extraordinary life as Whitaker Wright
have died in such sensational circumstances. He began his career as
an impoverished Methodist preacher in the North Country. Swapping God for
Mammon, he went to America and made millions prospecting for gold and
silver in the Rockies. Losing the lot, he returned to England in disgrace,
leaving behind a trail of angry investors. Australian gold was his new
route to riches, and within five years he was Britain’s wealthiest man. He
became friends with the Prince of Wales and the Kaiser, bought Gladstone’s
mansion in Park Lane, acquired a French mistress, and built the ultimate
folly — a glass underwater smoking room beneath a Surrey lake. On the last
trading day of the 19th century, his empire went bust, ruining thousands of
people. He fled to New York with his niece, but Scotland Yard caught up
with him and brought him back to London. At the end of what the press
dubbed ‘the most dramatic trial of modern times’ there was a shocking twist
to his remarkable story…Read more...
Dancing the night away — underwater!
Britain’s foremost authority on follies, architectural historian Gwyn Headley
, was given access to Whitaker Wright’s famous underwater hideaway in Surrey while carrying out research for his National Trust Book of Follies
in the 1980s. Read Gwyn’s vivid description of his sub-aqueous adventure here
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'Unstoppably entertaining' - Sunday Times
PRAISE FOR ULTIMATE FOLLY
The story's depiction of hysterical booms and busts suggests all kinds of contemporary parallels.
Christopher Hart, Sunday Times
Henry Macrory has found a glorious subject and tells Wright’s extraordinary story in vivid, exciting prose.
Dominic Sandbrook, author, historian and TV presenter
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