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Gregory Wilkin publishes biographical novel about 1930s British tennis star

English teacher and tennis coach to host panel on self publishing on January 23

January 17, 2013 --When Andy Murray made it to the Wimbledon finals last July, he was the first British man to do so since Bunny Austin in 1938.

Though largely unknown to most of today's sports fans, Austin was one of the top tennis players of his day. After achieving worldwide fame and marrying a famous actress, he slipped into obscurity when he gave up his tennis career to work for a little-known interfaith NGO called Moral Re-Armament.

His story has now been resurrected in a biographical novel entitled The Rabbit's Suffering Changes recently published by Phillips Academy English teacher and varsity tennis coach Gregory Wilkin. “Bunny was a terrific man, a real hero to me,” said Wilkin, who had the good fortune of meeting Austin as a result of a 1983 Fulbright Teacher Exchange to Dulwich College, an independent boys’ school in London. Inspired by that meeting, he wrote a profile on Austin in 1996 that appeared in Tennis magazine.

In a recent interview with The Phillipian, Wilkin said he worked on the book, off and on, for nearly 20 years. “As a sports story, I think [the book] is really dramatic, but it’s also a great love story,” he said.

Novelist Caryl Phillips, winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Book Prize, recently praised the book, saying he was "engrossed and enchanted" by it. "I particularly loved the form, that restless shifting of perspective in an attempt to tease out the 'truth' about this complex man's complex life," said Phillips. "I knew a little about him, but this book--straddling fact and fiction so artfully--brought me closer to an understanding of the man, not just the tennis player. A terrific read."

In order to speed the book into publication, Wilkin chose to self-publish it through iUniverse. It is available for purchase online through iUniverse, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

On January 23, Wilkin will host a panel discussion from 7-8 p.m. in the Freeman Room of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library that will focus on the topic of self publishing. In addition to sharing his own experiences with iUniverse, he will be joined by two Phillips Academy students and another faculty member who also are self-published authors. Madeleine Lippey '14 self-published a book titled A Little Peace of Me,  Kevin Ma '13 self-published a book titled A Silent Clock, and Stephen Porter, director of web publishing, self-published an ebook titled Damn You Ricky Gervais: The only weight loss program built on anger, humiliation and jealousy.

Wilkin's most recent short fiction appeared in the Northwest Review and the St. Katherine Review.


Contact Info

  • Stephen Porter, director of public information and web publishing
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