Bachelor, University Liverpool, England, 1949. Master of Arts, University London, 1951. Doctor of Philosophy, University London, 1958.
D.Lit., University London, 1975.
He was Professor of Geography and History, University of California at Berkeley 1958-1966. Professor of Geography, University College London 1966-1971. Professor of Geography and History, University of Chicago 1971-1977, where he was Irving B. Harris Professor and Chairman of the Committee on Social Thought 1977-1991 (Emeritus).
After serving as navigator in the Bomber Command and the Pathfinder Group 205 in World World War II, Wheatley took a degree in geography at Liverpool University, at first specializing in English historical geography.
When he moved to University College, London, he became interested in the historical geography of Southeast Asia and China, then moved to University of Malaya, in Singapore, then University of California, Berkeley, returned for a time to University College, and finally to University of Chicago, where he stayed from 1971 until retiring in 1991. Wheatley"s obituary says of him that he was a "man of ideas, of exacting standards and often of forceful expression.
He was the first British geographer to explore sources in Chinese and Arabic as well as in English for the historical geography of South-East Asia and the Arab world. Only the grand thesis was good enough for him." Another memorialist wrote, "Scholars who study the relationship between place and power have drawn on his city as cosmomagical center for religious, ritual, and political activities.
The cohesive force of Wheatley’s pivotal "si fang zhi ji" (The Pivot of the Four Quarters) can be felt today not only in Shang studies but in the analysis of Aztec cities.".
Served with Royal Air Force, 1940-1945. Fellow American Academy Arts and Sciences, British Academy (corresponding member). Member Association American Geographers (citation for meritorious contributions 1974), Association Asian Studies (editor monographs 1965-1970, 73-77, president 1981-1982), American Oriental Society, Royal Geography Society, Jerusalem Committee.
Married Margaret Elsie Ashworth, October 25, 1957. Children: Julian Karl, Jonathan Mark.