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Sir Tim Waterstone, businessman

Sir Tim Waterstone shares the eight tracks, book and luxury that he would want to take with him if cast away to a desert island. With Lauren Laverne

Sir Tim Waterstone is the founder of the bookshop chain that bears his name. Born in May 1939, he was the youngest of three children. His father, who worked for a tea company all his life, served in the Royal Army Service Corps during the war, and so was absent when Tim was very young. Their relationship was difficult throughout his childhood. Tim was educated at boarding schools from the age of six, when his parents went to India for two and a half years. After studying English at Cambridge and a stint working in India, he joined Allied Breweries, moving to WH Smith in 1973. Eight years later he was fired and at this point he decided to open his own bookshop.

The first Waterstone’s opened its doors in 1982 when Tim was 43. A further 86 bookshops opened within a decade. In 1993, he sold the company to his former employer, WH Smith. Five years later, he bought it back again as part of a newly formed group, HMV Media, but just three years after that, in 2001, he resigned as chairman. Since then he’s made several unsuccessful attempts to buy back the company which changed hands most recently in 2018.

He recently celebrated his 80th birthday and lives in London with his third wife, the television director Rosie Alison.

BOOK CHOICE: Oxford Book of English Poetry
LUXURY ITEM: A Photo of his wife
CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: The Dream of Gerontius by Edward Elgar

Presenter: Lauren Laverne
Producer: Cathy Drysdale

Available now

40 minutes

Music Played

  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor op.18 , Moderato

    Performer: Cyril Smith. Orchestra: Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Malcolm Sargent.
    • Piano Concerto no. 2 etc. – Cyril Smith.
    • Dutton.
    • 1.
  • Sibelius

    Symphony No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 82 - 3rd Movement

    Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic. Conductor: Leonard Bernstein.
    • Sibelius – Symphonies 5&7.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
    • 4.
  • Edward Elgar

    The Dream of Gerontius

    Singer: Janet Baker. Orchestra: Hallé. Conductor: John Barbirolli.
    • The Dream of Gerontius.
    • EMI.
    • 2.
  • Elizabeth Poston

    Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

    Choir: Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. Conductor: Sir David Willcocks.
    • Christmas Music from King’s.
    • EMI.
    • 19.
  • Gustav Mahler

    Symphony No. 5 in C sharp minor, IV Adagietto

    Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Klaus Tennstedt.
    • Mahler: Symphony No. 5.
    • EMI.
    • 4.
  • Karl Goldmark

    Concerto No. 1 in A minor, op. 28

    Performer: Itzhak Perlman. Conductor: André Previn. Orchestra: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
    • Goldmark and Korngold: Violin Concertos.
    • EMI.
    • 2.
  • John Le Mesurier

    A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square

    • A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.
    • Warner Bros..
    • 1.
  • Charles Trenet

    La Mer

    • La Mer.
    • Universal.
    • 1.

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