Charles Deville Wells, better known as ‘The man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo’, was the son of Charles Jeremiah Wells – a relatively unknown yet highly-acclaimed writer, who had once been a friend of one of Britain’s favourite poets, John Keats. In fact, Keats dedicated a sonnet to his friend under the title ‘To a Friend who sent me some Roses‘
But when, O Wells! thy roses came to me/My sense with their deliciousness was spell’d:/Soft voices had they, that with tender plea/Whisper’d of peace, and truth, and friendliness unquell’d.
Thanks to a curious string of coincidences, Wells junior also had several links with the world of literature. When he was a few weeks old he was baptised by the Rev Francis Thackeray, an uncle of William Makepeace Thackeray (author of Vanity Fair). At around the time when he broke the bank at Monte Carlo he moved to a luxurious apartment in Great Portland Street, London: this same address had earlier been the home of Baroness Orczy, of Scarlet Pimpernel fame. And a building in Paris, from which he later operated a major financial scam, had been the birthplace of Alexandre Dumas fils, (son of the author of the Three Musketeers and the Count of Monte Cristo).
Charles Deville Wells seems to have few literary pretensions of his won, though some of the prospectuses he created to lure people into his money-making schemes were acclaimed in the press as the work of a genius.