Tony Wheeler

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Tony Wheeler

Tony Wheeler (born 20 December 1946)[1] AO, is an English publishing entrepreneur, businessman and travel writer, co-founder of the Lonely Planet guidebook company with his wife Maureen Wheeler.

Early life[edit]

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.[2]

Wheeler holds an engineering degree from Warwick University and an MBA from London Business School.[3]

Career with Lonely Planet[edit]

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.[4] This would grow into the Lonely Planet empire, a name derived from a misheard Joe Cocker song (the lyric was, in fact, "Lovely Planet").[2]

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.[5]

BBC Worldwide bought 75 percent of their share of the company in 2007 and their remaining 25 percent in February 2011,[6] bringing the couple's net worth to $190 million.[7] After the 2007 BBC deal, Wheeler and his wife established a charitable foundation, Planet Wheeler, which funds over 50 projects in the developing world.[8]

Career since Lonely Planet[edit]

Even while helming the Lonely Planet business, Wheeler continued to write guidebooks. His books since Lonely Planet include Bad Lands and Unlikely Destinations.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Tony and Maureen Wheeler have two children, Tashi and Kieran.[2]

Awards and honours[edit]

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".[9]


  1. ^ "Happy Birthday Tony Wheeler, 65". The Times.
  2. ^ a b c Friend, Tad (18 April 2005). "The Parachute Artist". The New Yorker.
  3. ^ "Story". Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b Potts, Mary Anne. "Lonely at the Top: Maureen and Tony Wheeler". National Geographic.
  5. ^ Khoo, Valerie. "Turn Your Business into a Global Empire – Advice from Lonely Planet's Tony Wheeler". Sydney Morning Herald.
  6. ^ Sweney, Mark (18 February 2011). "BBC to buy out Lonely Planet". The Guardian.
  7. ^ "TheRichest - The World's Most Entertaining Site". 19 July 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Planet Wheeler". Retrieved 2017-08-25.
  9. ^ "The Queen's Birthday 2014 Honours List" (PDF). 8 June 2014. Retrieved 8 June 2014.

External links[edit]