Robin 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”.
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”
“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
- “Meet me at your bank – and bring your cheque-book” June 11, 2017
On a trip to London last week I made a detour via Trafalgar Square to take these photos of Drummonds Bank. Why?
Because the bank was already in existence on this site when Charles Deville Wells was active in London during the 1890s. Wells, known as a “gambler and fraudster extraordinaire”, persuaded one of his victims – the Honourable William Trench – to back him in a phony patent scheme. After handing over the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of pounds, Trench started to have doubts about the project, and when Wells asked for a further advance of money the young aristocrat hesitated.
Finally they agreed to meet at Drummonds Bank, where many wealthy people, including members of the royal family had accounts. This was also where Trench banked.
Trench was persuaded to hand over a further large sum of money, but demanded that Wells provide security. Wells offered two of his steam yachts and a smaller vessel as collateral, claiming that they were worth a substantial sum.
Predictably, Trench later discovered that the two yachts were virtually worthless, while the smaller craft had disappeared. In company with Wells’ many other victims, Trench became resigned to the fact that he would never regain any of the money he had put into the scheme. Twenty years later, however, in an extraordinary twist of fate, the situation changed dramatically …
- Heinz Sielmann – Wildlife Films June 7, 2017
Zoologist and film-maker Heinz Sielmann (1917 – 2006) was the German equivalent of Britain’s David Attenborough. His extraordinary life and accomplishments are celebrated in a documentary on the NDR TV network this evening at 19.15 British time (20.15 German time).
Sielmann served in the German army during WW2 and was taken prisoner by British forces immediately after the German surrender in May 1945. He spent a short time in a POW camp in Egypt before being brought to the UK.
As author of Hitler’s Last Army, I was invited to take part in the programme to speak about Britain’s treatment of German prisoners of war in the immediate post-war years. Evidently the British considered him to be a reliable person who could be trusted to play a role in a new, democratic Germany. He was repatriated relatively early to a country which at the time was still under Allied control, and this probably gave him a career advantage which served him well a few years later in the new West Germany.
- A Family Connection May 30, 2017
To quote the listing,
This brand new and exclusive three-part series delves into the relationships of six prominent women from world history – sisters by birth, all enjoying very different relationships with each other. The series explores the fascinating but sometimes fractious lives of aviation hero Amelia Earhart, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and the infamous Mitford sisters.
I’m especially keen to watch the third instalment when I’ll be able to learn more about Lee Radziwill, sister of the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She was married in 1959 to Stanislaw Radziwill (1914 – 1976).
It seemed evident that Stanislaw and Constantin were from the same family, but what exactly was the connection? I set myself the task of finding the link. Using a number of sources online, including Wikipedia, geni.com, and thepeerage.com, I finally had to reach back as far as the 16th century to discover that both men were indeed descended from a common ancestor – Aleksander Ludwik Radziwill (1594 – 1654).
- The Man who Broke the Bank – new audio edition May 12, 2017
A new audio edition of The Man who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo has been released by Oakhill Publishing Ltd. This is a complete and unabridged version of the book, with a playing time of around 9 hours 40 minutes. The reader is award-winning actor Jonathan Keeble, who has recorded over 400 audio books and is the voice of the disreputable Owen in long-running radio drama, The Archers.
The audio book is available as a download; as 2 MP3 CDs; or as 8 audio CDs. For further info, please click here: http://www.oakhillpublishing.com/bookinfo.asp?id=1816
- The Beatles Tune In April 22, 2017
I’ve just finished what I can safely say is one of the most enjoyable and informative books I’ve ever read. It’s not a particularly new work – in fact it came out in 2013. I cannot recall another book which compares with its fantastic wealth of information and detail. The Beatles: All These Years: Vol 1 – Tune In is a long book at about 800 pages; and Volume 1 only takes us as far as the beginning of 1963. The rest of the story will occupy two further volumes and is intended to complete the entire story of the Beatles.
Fo me simply to rave about the vast amount of info between this book’s covers is to do the work an injustice . The writer, Beatles expert Mark Lewisohn, has accurately captured the spirit of the era (the 1950s and early 60s – from when John and Paul first met to the earliest chart successes of The Beatles as a group). Reading Lewisohn’s work not only took me back to an era I just about remember – he also evokes the unique “feel” of post-war Liverpool, the stamping-ground of John, Paul, George and Ringo.
The author scotches several myths: for example, how Parlophone’s George Martin came to record the Beatles when every other label had turned them down; and the truth behind the sacking of Pete Best. At last, these stories begin to make sense, thanks to the writer’s extensive investigations – (which I imagine must have taken years).