British Bookseller Brutally Murdered

- by Michael Stillman

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The website of Adrian Greenwood Rare Books.

A British bookseller was brutally murdered in his Oxford home early last month. Adrian Greenwood, who was also a historian, antique seller, and writer, was found dead in the hallway of his home by a cleaner on Thursday afternoon, April 7. He had been stabbed numerous times in the chest and head, and the scene appeared as if there had been a struggle before he died. He lived alone, so there were no witnesses or others who would have been aware of his death were it not for the cleaning person's normal rounds. Greenwood's last confirmed sighting was Tuesday evening, April 5, when he was picked up by a security camera at Sainsbury supermarket. A friend said he communicated on Facebook late the following morning with a person whom he presumed to be Greenwood, unless it was someone else involved in an unlikely ruse using his Facebook account.

 

Police at first arrested a young man whose actions apparently raised suspicions. However, he was released a short time later and a different suspect was arrested. The man charged this time was 50-year-old Michael Danaher of Peterborough. Police did not explain why they believe he is the murderer, nor whether there was a connection between him and Greenwood, or what the motive might have been. Nevertheless, they felt confident enough in their conclusions to bring Danaher to court and have him officially charged. It was a brief hearing and Danaher only confirmed his name, birth date, and address before being led away in handcuffs. He is scheduled to appear in court again on July 1, with a tentative trial date of October 3. The prosecutor estimated the trial could take ten days.

 

On his website, Mr. Greenwood described himself as, "For twenty years Adrian has been an art and antiques dealer, specializing in rare books." He regularly attended trade shows in the past, though in later years he became more focused on writing. Still, he continued selling books, and he listed his selections on Biblio as well as offering items for sale on eBay.

 

He was an expert on Harry Potter books, selling numerous early editions. Greenwood made headlines in 2010 when one of his Potter books he loaned to a gallery was stolen. He appeared on television pointing out how difficult it would be for the thief to sell his copy without it being recognized. The thief must have heard because the stolen book was discovered left behind in a bag outside of a Boots drug store. The prior year, he reportedly had incurred some of Potter author J. K. Rowling's wrath when he posted for sale a signed baby sketch, a birthday party invitation, and a list of names some of which were used her books, created before she became famous. This items had been given to a family friend of Ms. Rowling, but the author evidently did not appreciate that they were being resold.

 

After his death, numerous tributes were published, both by people in the trade and outside who knew him. He was remembered as a friendly and kind man, well-liked by those he knew.