Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Window cleaner steals literary greats' letters from Booker judge Rick Gekoski
A treasure trove of gossip-laden letters written by some of the greatest literary figures of the past 100 years were stolen from a Man Booker Prize judge by his window cleaner.
Tyrone Somers, 41, of Clapham, South London, worked for Dr Rick Gekoski, (left) a member of the judging panel for the 2005 Man Booker Prize and this year's Man Booker International Prize. Yesterday he was jailed for 30 months after pleading guilty to theft.
The stolen documents included private correspondences by Kingsley Amis, TS Eliot, Cecil Beaton, Ted Hughes, Henry Moore, Gore Vidal and Virginia Woolf. Dr Gekoski, a US-born academic and rare bookseller, had given Mr Somers the keys to his north-west London home.
The handyman told police he entered the house on 23 July this year at around 5am intending to carry out maintenance work. However, once inside, he stole a binder full of historic papers, a laptop and £100 in cash.
Dr Gekoski admitted he was initially devastated by the theft, but he has since forgiven his former employee because after a few weeks Somers had a change of heart and returned the manuscripts to the police.
"He thought better of what he'd done," said Dr Gekoski. "I was very sorry to lose all of them and of course I was relieved to have them back."
Among items taken by Somers was a letter written by TS Eliot, dated December 1960, where he discusses the aftermath of the Lady Chatterley's Lover's obscenity trial.