Felix Dennis, the enigmatic poet and publishing executive who sometimes lives in a villa on Mustique called Mandalay is a generous man. (And that’s not just the testimony of David Bowie, from whom Dennis bought his villa.) Mr. Dennis has fought his battles over the years–addiction, cancer–and having emerged of sound mind and even sounder bank account he likes to make sure the ethical side of the balance sheet looks good. He also knows how to put together a deal. These factors are converging now to benefit more than 12,000 school children in the tiny nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines–a Caribbean country that’s the world’s 193rd most populous. Thanks to Dennis, each child will each get a free laptop computer. According to The Independent, Mr. Dennis put together a most unlikely team to produce this largesse–a group that includes the late socialist Hugo Chavez and his successor President Maduro of Venezuela, paired with that nonpareil engine of capitalism, Microsoft. Toss in Taiwan’s Acer Computer and the kids can start surfing the Web in no time.
We wrote a brief biography of Felix Dennis earlier–the 66-year-old’s story is irresistible, inspiring and hard to believe. (In his youth he once recorded a single with John Lennon to raise money for bail.) He was one of the first computer info publishers, feeding that hungry and burgeoning demographic when it was just hatched–and when the Genius Bar was as far-fetched an idea as a popular TV drama about a Meth dealer. By some measure, Dennis Publishing is now the largest publisher of computer magazines in the world. One financial coup was the sale of Maxim, his lad mag, when it was still at the top of the charts in 2007. (And, conveniently, just before most people had heard of credit-default swaps.) Mr. Dennis’s abiding triumph however, aside from this recent outfitting of children for a bright digital future, has been The Week, a particularly intelligent non-partisan news delivery system that respects the amount of time people really have. If he was in the right place at the right time with his early computer magazines, Felix Dennis is now taking up the right amount of time and space with The Week. Having started with St. Vincent and the Grenadines, he may just move on to supply the children of England with laptops. (He has a rather large home there, too.) Dennis, perhaps the richest poet in the world, has been known to step up his game.