& Other Stories of Great Authors and Rare BooksBook - 2004
Tolkien's gown is an amusing account of how the excited purchaser of some of the great man's effects from his Oxford rooms finds that instead of a rare, unpublished manuscript, or even notes for one, he is in receipt of an old, black, college gown . . .
In each of the twenty chapters of this erudite and funny work, rare-book dealer Rick Gekoski tells the inside story of a great work of modern literature. Based loosely on a hugely successful Radio 4 series, Rare Books, Rare People, each essay gives the publishing biography of a single book, together with illuminating details about the author's involvement with the first edition of their work.
The stories are fascinating and diverse, and involve memorable encounters with, among others, Graham Greene, William Golding, J. D. Salinger, Ted Hughes, Salman Rushdie, Julian Barnes and Harold Pinter. Relations between book dealers and authors are not always amicable.
J. D. Salinger threatens a law suit, William Golding is moved to produce a parody of Mr Gekoski and Ted Hughes thinks he has been overcharged. While Graham Greene is simply delighted to have done business.
Always entertaining, the author also shares some valuable insights: 'What is the value of a book?' he asks. His answers are both critical and financial, involving appraisals of the literary qualities of the works, together with an account of their (sometimes surprising) value in the rare-book trade.
For anyone who loves books, Tolkien's Gown offers a wealth of amusement and instruction, and enough literary anecdotes to last a lifetime.