Canny, infuriating, cynical and generous by turns, Felix Dennis was a true one-off. When he died in 2014 he was a multi-millionaire. Yet he spent his last months writing poetry and planting the millionth tree in his own forest in Warwickshire. Journalist Fergus Byrne got to know him well in this time and was granted exclusive access to Dennis’s archives and papers. He found everything had been kept and, along with hours of interviews with girlfriends, family, staff and friends the world over, he has now written the only authorised biography of a man who described himself as lucky to have led several lives.
His early rebellious days started with dropping out of grammar school, playing in a rock ‘n’ roll band, and being imprisoned (with Richard Neville and Jim Anderson) for charges of obscenity relating to a priapic Rupert Bear in the ‘schoolkids’ issue of the magazine Oz. The launch of Kung-Fu magazine, created when Dennis spotted a queue at a Leicester Square cinema for a Bruce Lee film, changed his fortunes. An industrious and self-destructive era then followed. He moved to America, added the magazines MacUser and Maxim to his portfolio, but also discovered crack, hookers and S & M. When his lifestyle led him to hospital, he gave up the drugs overnight and took to writing poetry. He acquired a mansion in Warwickshire, bought a much loved home in Mustique from rock star David Bowie, gave generously to charities, planted the largest broadleaf forest in Britain, and published several volumes of verse promoted by very well received readings nationwide.
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