“A writer is someone who has taught his mind to misbehave.”

-Oscar Wilde

Rick Gekoski – Writer

About Rick Gekoski


 Rick Gekoski – described by Tatler as “think Bill Bryson, only on books” – is a writer, rare book dealer, and occasional publisher and  broadcaster. An American who came to England in 1966, he took a B. Phil and D.Phil. in English at Oxford. He is now a British citizen.

From 1971-1987 he was a member of the English Department of the University of Warwick, and sometime Chair of the Faculty of Arts.

His books have been translated into eight languages. From 2010 – 2014 he wrote an online column (about reading, writing and the rare book trade) in The Guardian entitled Finger on the Page.

He has founded two private presses, The Sixth Chamber Press and The Bridgewater Press, which issue finely printed editions of leading contemporary novelists and poets. In 2005 he was one of the judges for the Man Booker Prize, and was then Chair of the judges for the Man Booker International Prize 2011, which was awarded to Philip Roth. He taught Creative Non-Fiction for the Arvon Foundation, and sat on their Development Board.

He is a former Trustee and Member of the Board of English PEN, and was elected an Honorary Vice-President of that body in 2014, for his work organizing and curating an auction of annotated first editions by famous writers, held at Sotheby’s in May 2013. Entitled First Editions, Second Thoughts, the auction raised over £439,200 to further the work of English Pen. Highlights included annotated first editions by Julian Barnes, Quentin Blake, Kazuo Ishiguro, JK Rowling, Colm Toibin, and Jeanette Winterson, amongst many others. https://www.englishpen.org/events/highlights-from-the-first-editions-second-thoughts-auction/

He lives in Salisbury, UK and New Zealand, is married to Belinda Kitchin and has two children, Anna who is a forensic psychologist, and Aaron (‘Bertie’) who is a wildlife photographer and campaigner and online TV presenter (www.aarongekoski.com).

Literary Agent: Peter Straus, of Rogers, Coleridge and White. More details

Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Gekoski

Latest Titles

Guarded by Dragons – published July 08, 2021.


About Guarded by Dragons

In Guarded by Dragons, Gekoski invites readers into this enchanted world as he reflects on the gems he has unearthed throughout his career. He takes us back to where his love of collecting began – perusing D.H. Lawrence first editions in a slightly suspect Birmingham carpark. What follows are dizzying encounters with literary giants as Gekoski publishes William Golding, plays ping-pong with Salman Rushdie and lunches with Graham Greene.

A brilliant stroke of luck sees Sylvia Plath’s personal copy of The Great Gatsby fall into Gekoski’s lap, only for him to discover the perils of upsetting a Poet Laureate when Ted Hughes demands its return.

Guarded by Dragons is available from:

Some Reviews and Responses

Rick Gekoski’s encyclopaedic knowledge of rare books is matched only by the enthusiasm and brio with which he writes about them ― Ian Rankin

Feisty, astutely dry, intellectually adroit – an intensely pleasurable and rewarding read ― William Boyd

Shrewd and gossipy memoir ― Observer

The great, renowned rare-book dealer Rick Gekoski is . . . like something out of a Raymond Chandler . . . an absorbing read . . . such fun ― Spectator

Gekoski, a fine raconteur, does for bibliomania what James Herriot did for vets. As his previous books, such as Tolkien’s Gown, remind us, he has a wealth of quirky stories, and you feel he could keep entertaining his readers for ever ― The Times

Entertaining, beautifully written and deeply personal ― The Critic

Combines a relish for commerce with tremendous joie de vivre. He loves literature . . . Guarded by Dragons is fresh and fun and bursting with good stories — Craig Brown ― Mail on Sunday

Many entertaining anecdotes . . . Gekoski – a larger-than-life character both on and off the page – writes with style,verve and just the right amount of self-deprecation . . . Gekoski proves a genial companion in the thrill of the chase ― Financial Times

Gekoski is wonderful company on the page, with a fine flair for storytelling and an eye for fascinating eccentricities among his colleagues and customers . . . Gekoski lets us in on the intricacies of the trade with candour and insouciance — John Banville ― Irish Times

A cache of engaging tales . . . He is an incredibly gifted storyteller who spins yarns with broad literary appeal . . . Gekoski never fails to amuse and to amaze. Guarded by Dragons is a bibliophilic treasure ― Fine Books & Collections magazine

Highly entertaining and frequently very funny ― Jewish Chronicle

Wonderfully gossipy, sharply written memoir . . . Gekoski’s swashbuckling stories reveal a trade that is certainly not for cissies. That’s precisely what makes this book as engrossing as it is entertaining — Bel Mooney ― Daily Mail

Entertaining and revelatory ― The Chap

Gekoski, possibly the most important book dealer of the last 50 years, fills page after page with witty anecdotes on dealing with the rarest books in the world, the people who wrote them, and the people that collect them. Beyond great stories well told, it’s an education on the book trade itself. An absolute must-read for book lovers. — Mark Galeotti ― War on the Rocks –This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Darke Matter: Published May 14, 2020.


About Darke Matter

“James Darke is dreading the first family Christmas without his wife Suzy. Engulfed by grief, his grudging preparations are interrupted by a persistent knock at the door. Questions about the circumstances of his wife’s death force him to confront the outside world and what really happened to her.

Isolated, angry and diminished, James soon faces a crisis both legal and psychological. It will test his resolve and threaten his freedom.

Darke Matter is a brilliant, mordant examination of the nature and obligations of love. Both immensely sad and extremely funny, the story wrestles with one of the great moral issues of our time.”

The surprising sequel to Darke…

Some Reviews and Responses

Clever, witty and perceptive . . . Gekoski writes movingly about love, loss and grief, while handling the difficult issue of assisted dying with considerable balance and finesse. Beautifully written, engrossing and heartbreakingly funny — Simon Humphreys ― Mail on Sunday

A funny and stylish novel provides light in the dark . . . The central, delicate issue of assisted dying is given a fully rounded perspective by a range of intelligent voices . . . It’s hard to fault Gekoski’s writing, or the splendid character he has created. This book is even more stylish, funny and daring than his last. It enthusiastically embraces so many subjects, from the nothingness-but-everythingness of words to how foie gras should never come out of a tin. Contrary to its punny title, the clarity and energy of Darke Matter fill you with light — Melissa Katsoulis ― The Times

A winningly sweet and sour grumpy-old-man comedy, mixing knockabout gags with heart-swelling tenderness — Anthony Cummins ― Daily Mail

Harrowing, funny, tender and nearly always beautifully written — Matthew Adams ― Sunday Times

Supremely accomplished ― Economist

Gekoski writes with pace, wit and a lovely eye for telling detail . . . his command of the issue of assisted dying is masterly . . . a fine read. It should go straight into the A-Level English syllabus as a set text ― Jewish Chronicle

But what enriches this novel beyond the predictable is the skilled way Gekoski entwines his protagonist’s nightmarish experience of being hounded and vilified . . . ― The Critic –

Published Books

Closely based on my Oxford D Phil, 1972. I don’t believe in the brandishing of keys to writers – Conrad is no more a lock or door than a casket. The central opposition or tension in Conrad is that between his ‘vision of personal autonomy’ and his ‘vision of social…

Read More

I am the only football fan who has written a book containing an inside account of a year in the life of a Premiership team. OK, it was only Coventry City, but the season was 1997/1998, and we finished solidly in the middle of the league, and got to the quarterfinals…

Read More

Based on the radio series Rare Books, Rare People, from BBC Radio 4, Tolkien’s Gown tries to do several things at the same time. It profiles the publishing history of 20 major books (largely) from the twentieth century, and describes the ways in which they have later…

Read More

The title is from Groucho Marx: “Outside of a Dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read,” which is both funny and a demonstration that homilies about reading are stupid…

Read More

He collected absences. For him they were more intense, vibrant and real than the presences that they shadowed. And this one – he’d just heard the news of the most audacious art theft of his time…

Read More

Dr James Darke has expelled himself from the world. He writes compulsively in his ‘coming of old age’ journal; he eats little, drinks and smokes a lot. Meditating on what he has lost – the loves of his life, both dead and alive…

Read More

Rick Gekoski’s follow up to his critically acclaimed debut, Darke, is a novel about 1950s America, a marriage in crisis, and a family falling apart at the seams. It is 1953, a heat wave is sweeping across America and..

Read More