Gekoski, Rick (A.)

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GEKOSKI, Rick (A.)

(R. A. Gekoski)

PERSONAL: Male; married; children. Education: Postgraduate study at Oxford University.

ADDRESSES: Offıce—R. A. Gekoski Booksellers, Pied Bull Yard, 15A Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2LP, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Constable and Robinson Ltd., 3 The Lanchester, 162 Fulham Palace Rd., London W6 9ER, England.

CAREER: Author, educator, and antiquarian book dealer. R. A. Gekoski Booksellers, founder and owner, beginning mid-1980s; presenter, Rare Books, Rare People (radio program), BBC Radio 4. Former senior lecturer in English, University of Warwick, England.


(Under name R. A. Gekoski) Conrad: The MoralWorld of the Novelist, Barnes & Noble (New York, NY), 1978.

(With P. A. Grogan; under name R. A. Gekoski) William Golding: A Bibliography, 1934-1993, foreword by William Golding, Andre Deutsch (London, England), 1994.

Staying Up: A Fan behind the Scenes in the Premiership, Little, Brown (London, England), 1998.

Tolkien's Gown and Other Stories of Great Authors and Rare Books, Constable and Robinson (London, England), 2004.

Author of numerous reviews and articles for Web sites and periodicals.

SIDELIGHTS: Rick Gekoski fell in love with books as a 1969 postgraduate student at Oxford University and in the mid-1980s opened his business, R. A. Gekoski Booksellers, which specializes in literary first editions. Gekoski's love of literature has also led him to author several books, including a critical study of the works of Ukrainian-born British novelist Joseph Conrad. A revision of Gekoski's doctoral thesis, Conrad: The Moral World of the Novelist elaborates on the philosophical contradictions found in Conrad's writings. Gekoski's purpose is to show how the novelist depicts a world that is lonely and valueless, while simultaneously revealing admiration for virtues such as loyalty and hard work.

By addressing a wide range of Conrad's works, Gekoski writes for an audience that may be unfamiliar with some of them. In attempting to address this problem, according to a Choice contributor, the book "suffers somewhat from extensive plot summaries." Writing in Modern Fiction Studies, John Feaster was pleased by the author's willingness to go beyond the scope of most Conrad criticism and noted that, while he found nothing "startlingly new" in the book, he felt Gekoski's analysis to be undertaken with "lucidity and precision." New Statesman contributor Zahir Jamal commented, "Gekoski has the sensitive critic's feel for the unique relations great artists discover between seemingly irreconcilable perceptions. He is also able, from a scholarly command of his texts, to bring large amounts of relevant information discreetly to the reader's attention. His patient and reflective appraisals of individual novels span a generous range of related issues."

While teaching at the University of Warwick in 1980, Gekoski came up with the idea of producing a bibliography of the works of novelist William Golding. When the university awarded Golding an honorary doctorate a year later, Gekoski struck up an occasional correspondence with the writer and cooperated in the compilation of his bibliography before he died in 1993. William Golding: A Bibliography, 1934-1993 was published the next year. A contributor to the Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada called the book a "descriptive bibliography" but felt it is "lacking in narrative and publishing history." However, as the reviewer noted, the book's publication is "nonetheless an important research tool for any scholar interested in Golding's varied literary landscape."

In addition to his love of books, Gekoski has a passion for the Coventry City Football Club in England, which led him to write Staying Up: A Fan behind the Scenes in the Premiership. In this insider's look at the British soccer club, the author discusses everything from the club's finances to tactics and personality clashes. Gekoski has also written Tolkien's Gown and Other Stories of Great Authors and Rare Books, published in 2004. Based on a popular BBC radio series called Rare Books, Rare People, Tolkien's Gown provides the history and stories behind some of British publishing's most iconic books. For instance, Gekoski recounts in Tolkien's Gown how he once bought a copy of Vladimir Nabokov's famous novel Lolita from English author Graham Greene, then resold the copy to musician Elton John's lyricist, Bernie Taupin, for more than double the price he had paid. Eventually, though, the book garnered a whopping $264,000—many times the profit that Gekoski had made in his sale to Taupin—at an auction at Christies. In the introduction to Tolkien's Gown, Gekoski reflected, "Each of us who has the fun and privilege to deal with great books has stories to tell: of where a rare book came from, and how, and where it ended up. And—which people always find compelling—how much money was involved."



Gekoski, Rick, Tolkien's Gown and Other Stories ofGreat Authors and Rare Books, Constable and Robinson (London, England), 2004.


Australian, October 23, 2004, Frank Campbell, review of Tolkien's Gown and Other Stories of Great Authors and Rare Books.

Choice, November, 1978, review of Conrad: TheMoral World of the Novelist, p. 1215.

Modern Fiction Studies, summer, 1979, John Feaster, review of Conrad, pp. 298-300.

New Statesman, August 11, 1978, Zahir Jamal, review of Conrad, p. 188.

Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada, fall, 1996, review of William Golding: A Bibliography, 1934-1993, pp. 200-203.

Rare Book Review, October, 2004, Crispin Jackson, review of Tolkien's Gown and Other Stories of Great Authors and Rare Books.

Sunday Times (Perth, Australia), November 7, 2004, Kevin Jackson, review of Tolkien's Gown and Other Stories of Great Authors and Rare Books.


BBC Web site, (July 14, 2003), Rick Gekoski, "A Sumptuous Seven Pillars."

Bookplace Online, (October 21, 2004), review of Tolkien's Gown and Other Stories of Great Authors and Rare Books.