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Biography

Robin Quinn PhotoRobin Quinn is an author and radio producer based in South-East England. His new book, The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo explores the life of Charles Deville Wells, fraudster and gambler, and spans the second half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. Published 2016 by The History Press Ltd.

THE MAN WHO BROKE THE BANK AT MONTE CARLO

The incredible true story of Charles Deville Wells, gambler and fraudster extraordinaire.

Charles Wells has two loves in his life: a beautiful, headstrong, French mistress, Jeannette, and his sumptuous yacht, the Palais Royal. At the risk of losing them both, Wells stakes everything he owns at the roulette tables in Monte Carlo’s world-famous Casino – and in the space of a few days he breaks the bank, not once but ten times, winning the equivalent of millions in today’s money.

Is he phenomenally lucky? Has he really invented an “infallible” gambling system, as he claims? Or is he just an exceptionally clever fraudster?

Based on painstaking research on both sides of the Channel and beyond, this biography reveals the incredible true story of the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo – an individual who went on to become Europe’s most wanted criminal, hunted by British and French police, and known in the press as “Monte Carlo Wells – the man with 36 aliases”.

Pre-order now: Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmiths, iTunes.
Read excerpts on Google Books.

HITLER'S LAST ARMY

After the Second World War 400,000 German servicemen were imprisoned on British soil – some remaining until 1948. These defeated men in their tattered uniforms were, in every sense, Hitler's Last Army.

Reviews of Hitler's Last Army

“Probably the best book on the subject in the last 20 years”
[recollectionsofwwii.blogspot.co.uk]

“I recommend this book as a must to read.”
[★★★★★ Amazon review by “a German ex-POW”]

“Well written, interesting, informative, and heart-warming in equal measure … I would recommend this even to those not especially interested in WW2, as a fascinating slice of Anglo-German social history of 70 years ago. Buy it."
[★★★★★ Amazon review by J.B.]

Blog: All Posts

  • Keeping track of a bank-breaker
    Danger! Author at work. Robin Quinn man who broke bank monte carlo charles deville wells wall chart
    Danger! Author at work.

    I found it a little difficult to keep track of Charles Wells’ activities, as so much happened between his arrival in Britain from France in about 1883, and the period just after his epic bank-breaking adventures.  Just over a year ago, when I was making the transition from the research phase to actually writing the book, I made the wall chart (pictured).  It drew a number of threads together, and made it much easier to see at a glance what was happening to Charles Wells, and the other important people in his story.

    In addition I compiled an overall timeline covering his whole life.  It started off as an A4 sheet of paper with a few lines on it, and ended up as a file with over 200 pages and around 700 separate entries.  From this the first draft of the biography of Charles Wells was put together.

     

  • Interview on 105 Uckfield FM

    I very much enjoyed being interviewed yesterday by Lynn Briggs, drivetime presenter at 105 Uckfield FM.

    We talked about Charles Wells – his inventions, his amazing successes at Monte Carlo, and his many brushes with the law over the years.  Lynn played a brief snippet of Charles Coborn performing The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo, which probably jogged a few memories in and around Uckfield!

    My sincere thanks to Lynn and her colleagues for this opportunity for people to hear about the book, (which is now on sale, by the way!)

    The interview is now available to play on demand on the home-page of Uckfield FM: www.uckfieldfm.co.uk

     

  • On this day 125 years ago: 3 August 1891
    man broke bank monte carlo charles deville wells gambler fraudster extraordinaire
    The casino at Monte Carlo – a present-day view of one of the gambling salons

    Monday, 3 August, was a bank holiday — one of the country’s few days off work, a rare day of rest for the majority of people.  Britain woke from its weekend slumber — and then went back to sleep again for a bit longer.

    It was a day for trips to the seaside, to the countryside, to circuses, fairs, and other attractions.  In the London area over 50,000 visited the Crystal Palace, while an estimated 80,000 made their way to Hampstead Heath for the fair.

    That day’s newspapers carried fresh reports of Wells and his incredible gambling feats at Monte Carlo — a good-luck story that resonated perfectly with the happy holiday atmosphere.

    REMARKABLE WINNINGS (Reuter’s Telegram)

    Mr. Wells, who won within a few days £20,000 at the table here, won a further sum of £6,000 yesterday.  Extraordinary luck again favoured him today, for he won no less than £14,000 at trente-et-quarante.  The table was surrounded by a large crowd, and intense excitement prevailed, such persistent good fortune having never been witnessed before.  Mr. Wells, whose winnings commence to have an effect on the bank, keeps two secretaries to assist him in his transactions.

    Charles Deville Wells was already on his way to becoming a legend.  Yet in many ways his unbelievable story was only just beginning …

    [This ends my day-by-day account of the events of 125 years ago.  But there will be more daily coverage of “future” events in the Charles Deville Wells timeline.  I’ll be posting more information about his adventures over the days, weeks and months to come.  Watch this space!]
  • Radio Interview on 105 Uckfield FM

    I’ve been invited to appear today on local radio station, Uckfield FM, as a guest of drivetime presenter Lynn Briggs, to talk about The Man who Broke the bank at Monte Carlo.  The show is on the air between 4.00 p.m. and 7.00 p.m.

    Uckfield FM serves the town of Uckfield, East Sussex, and surrounding district, on 105 FM and online here.

  • On this day 125 years ago: 2 August 1891

    Today Charles Deville Wells’ first visit to Monte Carlo was almost over.  Having observed his astonishing achievements for several days, the local correspondent for Reuter’s News Agency telegraphed this report to Britain, where it would appear in the next day’s editions of many of the newspapers:

    the casino at monte carlo where charles deville wells broke the bank at roulette and trente et quarante
    The Casino at Monte Carlo. A view on the southern aspect.

    Mr. Wells, the Englishman who had so extraordinary a run of luck last week at the gaming tables here, winning over £20,000 at roulette [equivalent to £2 million], continues to be favoured by the same good fortune.  Finding the luck turning against him, he had the prudence to quit the table at which he had been assiduously playing day after day from the opening of the Casino till its close.  Before leaving the building, however, he risked a few stakes at another game, trente-et-quarante [a casino game played with cards], and, winning each, continued to play till he had further increased his gains by the sum of 160,000 f, or close upon £6,400 [£640,000 today].  Mr. Wells at trente-et-quarante follows the same system that proved so successful at roulette – the famous ‘coup des trois’ – that is to say, following the luck till he has won thrice in succession, and then withdrawing the accumulated stake.  People here and at Nice are talking of nothing but his marvellous success.