Felix Dennis

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Felix Dennis (born 1947) is a British publisher, poet, and philanthropist. His company, Dennis Publishing, pioneered computer and hobbyist magazine publishing in the United Kingdom. In more recent times, the company has added lifestyle titles such as its flagship brand The Week, which is published in the UK, the United States and Australia.

Contents

Life and work

Dennis was born in Kingston-upon-Thames in 1947. After leaving Harrow College of Art, Dennis played in R&B bands. [1]

Publishing

Dennis started his career as a street seller for the underground counter culture magazine Oz in 1971. The magazine printed a mixture of left-field stories, discussions of drugs, sex and contentious political stories. Dennis was quickly promoted to co-editor and became involved in the longest conspiracy trial in English history over the "School Kids" edition. The editors invited contributions from children, including a sexually explicit drawing of Rupert the Bear. This resulted in a visit from the police and the subsequent arrest of Jim Anderson, Richard Neville and Dennis.[2] Dennis recorded a single with John Lennon to raise money for a legal defence fund. At the conclusion of the trial, the "Oz Three", defended by John Mortimer, were found not guilty on the charge of “Conspiracy to deprave and corrupt the Morals of the Young of the Realm,” but were convicted of two lesser offences and sentenced to imprisonment. The convictions were later quashed.

Dennis later told author Jonathan Green that on the night before the appeal was heard, the Oz editors were taken to a secret meeting with the Chief Justice, Lord Widgery, who told them that they would be acquitted if they agreed to give up work on Oz. It is alleged that MPs Tony Benn and Michael Foot had interceded on their behalf.

Following acquittal by the Court of Appeal, Dennis went on to found his own magazine publishing company in 1973. Kung Fu monthly became a success, making over £60,000, aided by the rising popularity of martial artist Bruce Lee. The small company managed to break into the US.

Dennis set up Personal Computer World which he later sold to VNU, and established MacUser which he sold to Ziff Davis Publishing in the mid-eighties. In 1987, he co-founded MicroWarehouse, with Peter Godfrey and Bob Bartner, a company that pioneered direct IT marketing via high quality catalogues. Dennis was awarded the Marcus Morris Award in 1991. The computer mail order company eventually went public on the NASDAQ in 1992. At the time had 3500 employees in 13 countries with worldwide sales in 2000 of $2.5 billion. It was sold to a private investment group in January 2000. This created the bulk of Dennis' personal wealth. Dennis launched further successful IT titles Computer Shopper and PC World.

In 1995, Dennis Publishing created Maxim, a title that became the world's biggest selling men's lifestyle magazine and global brand. In 1996, Dennis acquired a stake in what is now the flagship brand The Week which is published in the UK, US and Australia and. as of 2009, translates to a global circulation of over 700,000 (ABC audited). Over the following years it purchased the remainder from its founder Jon O'Connell. 2003 saw the purchase of IFG (I Feel Good) from Loaded founder James Brown. The purchase involved titles Viz, Fortean Times and Bizarre being added to the Dennis Publishing stable.

In June 2007, Dennis sold his US magazine operation which published the magazines Blender, Maxim and Stuff to Alpha Media Group. In 2008, Dennis Publishing established digital magazines iGizmo and iMotor along with Monkey and the purchase of The First Post.

Dennis remains the owner of Dennis Publishing, with headquarters in both London and New York City. It currently holds over 50 magazine titles, digital magazines, websites and mobile sites in the UK including The Week, Monkey, Auto Express, PC Pro and Viz. Its flagship brand The Week is also published in the US and Australia.

Writing

In 1994, Dennis was made a Fellow of the National Library for the Blind in recognition of his continued support for that charity. Accordingly, many of Dennis's books are released in Braille.

In 2001, following illness, Dennis took up poetry. [3]Within a year, he wrote his first book of verse A Glass Half Full, published by Hutchinson in the UK. The launch of this book was accompanied by the first of Dennis's UK-wide poetry reading tours entitled “Did I Mention the Free Wine?” Audiences are offered fine French wine from Dennis’s cellar whilst watching Dennis perform his poetry on stage. His poetry has been featured on radio interviews, in the national press and the subject of two major television documentaries.

In October 2003, Dennis appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company, along with RSC actors, reading from his work at The Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. With the publication of A Glass Half Full in the US in 2004, Dennis embarked on a fifteen date coast-to-coast tour of the US (including another RSC performance in New York). The same year Lone Wolf, Dennis's second book of verse came out, again accompanied by a fourteen-date UK tour.

In 2006, Dennis wrote a best-seller on how he became a multi-millionaire in How to Get Rich [4], published by Ebury Press. As well as anecdotes from his life, the book describes his crack cocaine addiction and admission to spending over $100 million dollars on drugs and women. 2010 saw the release of Dennis's follow-up to wealth creation book, 88 The Narrow Road.[5]

Three more poetry books have followed, When Jack Sued Jill: Nursery Rhymes for Modern Times, Island of Dreams and Homeless in my Heart, published by Ebury Press. At the end of 2008, Dennis again toured with an eleven-date tour around the UK and Ireland, coinciding with the release of Homeless in my Heart. Both the 2008 and 2010 tours were filmed and a DVD release is expected in the early part of 2011.

Tree planting

Dennis is planting the Forest of Dennis, based in Warwickshire in the UK's West Midlands. [6]Over the last ten years, Dennis has established a young forest of native deciduous trees, covering one thousand acres with approximately 600,000 saplings planted to date. The forest also includes a small percentage of ancient woodland. Trees include native varieties of oak, ash, lime, beech hornbeam, hazel, field maple, aspen, hawthorn, willow, alder, black poplar, holly, wild cherry, rowan and occasional stands of Scots pine, along with numerous shrubs and bushes. Where possible, saplings are sourced from locally collected seed. The planting of saplings will continue indefinitely with the aim of eventually providing between 10,000 and 20,000 acres. [7]The forest will then be opened to the public to enjoy and, as Dennis insists, it will be up to the people to decide the name, saying "the Forest of Dennis is only the name of the charity".

Julian Assange

Dennis backed Julian Assange by pledging bail in December 2010; the money was lost in June 2012 when a judge ordered it to be forfeited, as Assange had sought to escape the jurisdiction of the English courts by entering the London embassy of Ecuador. [8]

In the media

Dennis is credited with having been the first person to say the word cunt on live British television, on the 7 November, 1970 edition [9] of David Frost's The Frost Programme. As a result, most "live" transmissions are delayed by 15 seconds.

Dennis was the subject of Desert Island Discs, hosted by Kirsty Young on BBC Radio 4, first broadcast on 12 August 2007.[10]

In an interview with Ginny Dougary published in The Times on 2 April 2008 Dennis said that in the early 1980s he had killed a man who had been abusing a woman he knew by pushing him off a cliff; Dennis later said he had been talking "a load of hogwash" whilst drunk.[11] [12]

References

  1. ^ Dennis profile on personal website
  2. ^ Dennis, Felix (2009-01-28). "The OZ trial: John Mortimer’s finest hour | News & Politics | News & Comment". The First Post. http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/46324,features,the-oz-trial-john-mortimerrsquos-finest-hour. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  3. ^ "Publisher Felix Dennis' odes to vice and consequences | Video on". Ted.com. http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/publisher_felix_dennis_odes_to_vice_and_consequences.html. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  4. ^ ISBN 0-09-191265-2
  5. ^ 88 The Narrow Road
  6. ^ The Forest of Dennis / Heart Of England Forest Project
  7. ^ BBC Dennis Profile "From parties to poetry" 20 November 2006
  8. ^ Daily Mail 4 September 2012 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2198072/Julian-Assanges-high-profile-backers-set-lose-340-000-bail-money-remains-holed-Ecuador-Embassy.html#ixzz25XOfdk4R
  9. ^ 7 November, 1970 edition of David Frost's The Frost Programme
  10. ^ Desert Island Discs BBC 12 August 2007
  11. ^ "Maxim publisher Felix Dennis: ‘I’ve killed a man’ | Ginny Dougary :: Award-winning journalist and writer". Ginny Dougary. 2008-04-02. http://www.ginnydougary.co.uk/2008/04/02/maxim-publisher-felix-dennis-ive-killed-a-man/. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  12. ^ Maxim Publisher Felix Dennis: I've Killed a Man The Times]

External links