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Rikky Rooksby

Rikky Rooksby


Rikky Rooksby teaches popular and classical music, and British literature. The Oxford Experience programme has enabled him to offer courses that cover a range of subjects, and to combine them in multi-disciplinary perspective. His Oxford Experience courses have covered figures such as Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Dickens, and Shakespeare, as well as C19th and C20th poetry, the novel and film, C20th British music, the art and literature of Cornwall, the Romance of the Railways, the Battle of Britain, the Spirit of England and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

He studied English literature at Cardiff, gaining a B.A.(Hons) and then a Ph.D. for which his subject was the love poetry of Robert Graves. At the same time he developed an interest in the Victorian poet A.C.Swinburne who then became a focus of post-doctoral research. He has published over two dozen articles and several books on Swinburne, notably a biography of Swinburne in 1997 which remains the most recent on the poet. A Japanese translation was published spring 2013.

He has had a long, professional involvement with popular music and its history, with over 30 years experience as a guitar tutor. He has published many guitar technique and arrangement books and articles, and interviewed a number of famous performers. He contributes entries on figures from popular music to the New Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Since 2000 he has written and recorded an 11-volume series on songwriting (Backbeat / Hal Leonard) which has sold 250,000 copies. This practical knowledge combines with a historical perspective in the Oxford Experience course ‘The Beatles, Popular Music and 1960s Britain’.

He has a strong interest in the post-Beethoven symphony in the context of C20th tonal music, and in the particular educational challenges of stimulating interest in classical music. His love of the music of Jean Sibelius and other Finnish composers has taken him twice to Finland. This teaching interest in art music is complemented by practical experience of classical composition. Since 2002 he has composed works for string quartet, clarinet quintet, piano quartet, larger string ensembles, and orchestra. A commissioned 30 minute orchestral piece Sketches from the Life of Sir Humphry Davy was performed in 2010. He has linked the worlds of popular and classical music in the course ‘From a Blues to the Symphony’.

In spring 2013 Rikky released an album of original guitar instrumentals "Atlantic Cantacles". You can find out more about this album here...

He estimates that 2016 will be his 20th year on the programme.

His website is at





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