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Tony Wheeler (born December 20, 1946) AO, is an English-Australian publishing entrepreneur, businessman and travel writer, co-founder of the Lonely Planet guidebook company with his wife Maureen Wheeler.
Wheeler was born in England. His father worked for the British Overseas Airways Corporation as an airport manager, so he grew up in Pakistan, the Bahamas, Canada, America and England, never spending as much as two years in the same school.
Career with Lonely Planet
After travelling across Europe on a shoestring with Maureen Wheeler, the pair arrived in Melbourne in 1972 with 27 cents between them, and put out their first book, Across Asia on the Cheap, from their kitchen table in 1973. This would grow into the Lonely Planet empire, a name derived from a misheard song (the lyric was, in fact, "Lovely Planet").
The Wheelers always saw Lonely Planet as a business, yet it took a while to become successful - in 1975, Maureen had to work to support the couple. Yet in 1980, the publication of a guidebook to India effectively doubled the size of the company.
BBC Worldwide bought 75% of their share of the company in 2007 and their remaining 25% in February 2011, bringing the couple's net worth to $190 million. After the 2007 BBC deal, Wheeler and his wife established a charitable foundation, Planet Wheeler, which funds over 50 projects in the developing world.
Career Since Lonely Planet
Even while helming the Lonely Planet business, Wheeler continued to write guidebooks. His books since Lonely Planet include Bad Lands and Unlikely Destinations.
Tony and Maureen Wheeler have two children, Tashi and Kieran.
Awards and Honours
In the 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours List, Wheeler and Maureen were both appointed as Officers of the Order of Australia (AO), each for "distinguished service to business and commerce as a publisher of travel guides, and as a benefactor to a range of Australian arts and aid organisations".
- "Happy Birthday Tony Wheeler, 65". The Times.
- Friend, Tad (18 April 2005). "The Parachute Artist". The New Yorker.
- Potts, Mary Anne. "Lonely at the Top: Maureen and Tony Wheeler". National Geographic (magazine).
- Khoo, Valerie. "Turn Your Business into a Global Empire - Advice from Lonely Planet's Tony Wheeler". Sydney Morning Herald.
- Sweney, Mark (18 February 2011). "BBC to buy out Lonely Planet". The Guardian.
- "Planet Wheeler".
- "The Queen's Birthday 2014 Honours List". 8 June 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
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