Monday, December 05, 2011

'84 Charing Cross Road' revisited

84, Charing Cross Road is a 1970 book by Helene Hanff, later made into a stage play, television play and film, about the twenty-year correspondence between her and Frank Doel, chief buyer of Marks & Co, antiquarian booksellers located at the eponymous address in London, England.

Hanff, in search of obscure classics and British literature titles she had been unable to find in New York City, noticed an ad in the Saturday Review of Literature and first contacted the shop in 1949, and it fell to Doel to fulfill her requests. In time, a long-distance friendship evolved, not only between the two, but between Hanff and other staff members as well, with an exchange of Christmas packages, birthday gifts, and food parcels to compensate for post-World War II food shortages in England. Their letters included discussions about topics as diverse as the sermons of John Donne, how to make Yorkshire Pudding, the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the coronation of Elizabeth II.

The Telegraph has a charming article recalling the correspondence that is well worth a read.

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