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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Iwan Morelius 14 Nov 1931-21 June 2012

My wife Jen and I were saddened to learn that Iwan died suddenly last month, leaving his wife Margareta.

I only knew Iwan for the last four years of his life when I discovered by chance that he lived a half-hour’s drive away from me here in Spain.

Iwan was a consummate bibliophile. Margareta loves reading too – and music. Indeed, Iwan and Margareta’s home is a bibliophile’s heaven, with so many signed copies.

Born in Stockholm, Iwan and his family moved some eleven times in fourteen years. His parents owned a private library of about 400 books and Iwan caught the reading bug early. He devoured the translations of English and American authors and finally began collecting the Dennis Wheatley novels. In 1961 he wrote to Wheatley and struck up a lifelong correspondence. In 1971 Iwan was invited for dinner at Wheatley’s London home in Cadogan Square.

Iwan with Dennis Wheatley
Rather than wait for a Swedish translation of his favourite authors, Iwan bought the English versions and read those. He began writing to many of his favourites – Alistair MacLean, Helen Macinnes, Ian Fleming, Desmond Bagley, Hammond Innes, Leon Uris, Joe Poyer, James Hadley Chase, James Leasor, Edmund Crispin, Georges Simenon among others. Almost all of them answered his letters and several continued to keep in touch over the years.

In 1968 Iwan brought out the first issue of DAST magazine – (Detective, Agent, Science Fiction and Thriller). In 1974 Iwan was commissioned by Lindqvist Publishing to acquire a strong list of thrillers and mysteries – Hedman Thrillers, publishing many Swedish translations of Iwan’s favourite authors, among them Jack Higgins.

Iwan became a good friend of Geoffrey Boothroyd – Ian Fleming’s and Bond’s armourer – and they visited each other’s home regularly. Indeed, he visited a number of authors in their homes in the US, including Joe Poyer and Raymond Benson. He interviewed Ray Bradbury at the time of Bradbury’s first mystery being published and kept in touch. Bradbury is one of Margareta's favourite authors.

Margareta with Ray Bradbury, 1988
The list of authors Iwan has met, interviewed and kept in touch with over the years is quite remarkable: Mickey Spillane, Brian Garfield, Isaac Asimov, Colin Forbes, Duncan Kyle, John Gardner, Tony Hillerman, Frederick Forsyth, Michael Avallone, Elmore Leonard and Ed McBain, to name but a few. He taped some interviews, for example with Jack Higins and Leslie Charteris, and I have copies.

In 2009 I wrote an article about Iwan for the Levante Journal: ‘The Bond Connection’, one of a planned series that didn’t get taken up. For some time Iwan had badgered Raymond Benson to set one of his James Bond books in Spain; Raymond duly obliged with his thriller Doubleshot, written in 2000, which is partly set here. It also features a number of acknowledgements, not least Iwan. And to top that, on p233 there is a ‘Dr Iwan Morelius, a Swedish plastic surgeon’ who works for the villainous organisation! (As an aside, I’ve included Iwan as a Swedish chef in my novel The $300 Man (Hale Black Horse Western, as by Ross Morton). I also dedicated my crime novel A Sudden Vengeance Waits to him.

Geoffrey Boothroyd
Iwan was a generous host and virtually ran a private lending library for his friends. He had so many fascinating tales to tell, often with that distinctive twinkle in his eye. He will be missed.


Mick Parker said...

I met Iwan too, like Nik by chance and found him to be a very interesting and engaging man. He tried very hard to get my thrillers published in Sweden, and always shared my enthusiasm when I had a new book published. He will be sadly missed.

Nik said...

Yes, indeed, a great lover of books and a marvellous raconteur!

Bob said...

Hello -- Just came by your site quite by accident, while reading reviews on Westerns. I was surprised to see the news on Iwan -- as I knew him, too! I didn't know him well, but we met in the 1970s when he was in New York for the International Crime Conference, and he spent a great deal of time with me talking about Leslie Charteris. We were both great Saint fans. I only kept up with him for a few years (I was little more than a teen then and he did move around), but I've never, never forgotten him. Sad news indeed! Thanks -- Bob

Nik said...

Thanks for getting in touch, Bob. Iwan was a generous and fascinating man.