Rick was sent to Coventry when he quit academia...

RICK Gekoski can still recall the conversation he had with a university colleague in 1984 when he announced he was quitting academia to pursue a career as a rare-book dealer.

“He said to me, ‘I want you to know that I am full of admiration and it is very brave what you are doing’,” Rick told me from his home in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.

“I told him that it was him who was the brave one, because when I thought of spending another 30 years in that department, I could feel myself becoming more misanthropic and just grinding to a halt.”

Thirty-seven years later and Rick is recognised as one of the leaders in his field.

He has written several books, too, the latest of which, Guarded by Dragons (Constable, Ł18.99), reflects on the gems he has unearthed during his career.

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