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84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
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84, Charing Cross Road (original 1970; edition 1990)

by Helene Hanff

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,8202361,355 (4.24)1 / 862
Member:pnorman4345
Title:84, Charing Cross Road
Authors:Helene Hanff
Info:Penguin Books (1990), Paperback, 112 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:None

Work details

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (1970)

  1. 186
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (khuggard, DetailMuse, helgagrace, ehough75, kraaivrouw)
    khuggard: Another tale about book lovers who come together through letters, with the same, post-war England setting.
    kraaivrouw: Another book about people who connect via their love of books and reading.
  2. 70
    The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff (Booksloth)
  3. 40
    The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley (BasilBlue)
  4. 40
    Private Papers of a Bankrupt Bookseller, The by Anonymous (BasilBlue)
    BasilBlue: Fascinating peek at the nature of book sellers and book buyers in the early 20th century.
  5. 41
    Q's Legacy by Helene Hanff (lilithcat)
    lilithcat: "Q" is Arthur Quiller-Couch, whose book On the Art of Writing led Ms. Hanff to what would become many of her favorite books and writers.
  6. 74
    The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (withwill, teelgee)
  7. 30
    The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee (Booksloth)
  8. 21
    An Alphabetical Life: Living It Up in the World of Books by Wendy Werris (sfelber)
    sfelber: Another book about books-this time the book selling business. A fascinating read. This memoir by Wendy Werris details her life from working in a San Francisco book store as a kid to becoming an independent book rep. A true behind-the-scene view for bibliophiles.… (more)
  9. 00
    The Thorn and the Blossom: A Two-Sided Love Story by Theodora Goss (MyriadBooks)
  10. 11
    At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays by Anne Fadiman (Booksloth)
  11. 12
    Book Traveller by Bruce Bliven (trav)
  12. 01
    Venuto al mondo by Margaret Mazzantini (remeig)
  13. 01
    Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor (bnbookgirl, bnbookgirl)
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English (208)  Spanish (10)  French (6)  Catalan (6)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (236)
Showing 1-5 of 208 (next | show all)
Lovely book. I love that it is a compilation of letters written by folks who start out strangers in business and become friends through a love of books. The written word is a magical tool! The movie is wonderful too. ( )
  Elaine2016 | Aug 13, 2016 |
84, Charing Cross Road - Hanaff
4 stars

I read this book after seeing the movie in 1987. I remembered it as being longer. Probably I combined my memories of the movie and the book. Reading it again was still enjoyable. I loved the way these people who had never actually met, were able to connect and support each other.
(Not unlike people in internet discussion groups.)

This time around, I’m sure I know more about the books that Hanaff was requesting. I’ve even read some of them. I’d love to get my hands on one of her books, just to read the margin notes. I’ll have to settle for reading The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. ( )
  msjudy | Aug 2, 2016 |
Book buying in pre-Amazon days
By sally tarbox on 3 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
Quite an interesting little (96 page) read, starting in 1949 with the author's first letter to a London antiquarian bookseller. From the very first, her personality shines out in her informal writing style. Meanwhile Marks & Co respond in more business-like terms.
Gradually the formality breaks down. Ms Hanff takes the initiative when she begins a letter 'Sir (It feels witless to keep writing "Gentlemen" when the same solitary soul is obviously taking care of everything for me)' and concludes 'I'm sending it c/o you, FPD, whoever you are.'
FPD identifies himself as Frank Doel; Ms Hanff sends the team a Christmas hamper; junior staff members write to thank her; they exchange details on their respective lives and Ms Hanff writes about the books she's reading. 20 years roll by... ( )
  starbox | Jul 11, 2016 |
In October 1949 Helene Hanff, a single woman living and working in her small New York apartment, responded to an ad placed in the Saturday Review of Literature by Marks & Co, a bookshop in London that specialized in used books. Thus began a two-decade long correspondence and friendship between the reserved bookseller and the irrepressible Miss Hanff.

What a delight it is to be allowed to watch this growing relationship, fueled by a shared love of books, and an ability to laugh at oneself and one’s follies. I laughed aloud in places. I shared her outrage at books being torn apart to use as wrapping, and then agreed with Frank Doel’s explanation on the practicality of this practice. I marveled at their generosity – not just in the gifts they gave one another, but more importantly, their generosity of spirit, how they gave so freely of their thoughts, gratitude, wishes, grievances, and forgiveness.

I saw the movie, starring Anne Bancroft, many years ago. As I read the letters, I could not help but picture Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins as Helene and Frank. I’m so happy that Hanff decided to publish it, and that Doel’s family gave their wholehearted permission and encouragement to her to do so.

As with most books I read these days, I got this from the library, but I’m going to go out and buy a copy for myself. It’s the kind of book I’ll read over and over just for the sheer joy of it. ( )
  BookConcierge | Jul 10, 2016 |
This epistolary novel is pure delight from beginning to end. Having come across an advertisement for a second-hand book store in London, Helene Hanff began a correspondence that spanned two decades. Her pithy and witty letters asking for out-of-print books contrasts nicely with the proper and business-like replies from one Frank Doel, employee of the bookshop. It doesn’t take Helene long to become friendly with people she hardly knows, and soon those feelings are reciprocated; who could resist Helene and her style of writing! As letters continue to fly across the pond, the people involved do become friends of a sort. Though sad at the end, as all things do come to an end, even people and book stores, this little collection of letters will have you laughing at Helene’s brashness in demanding the books she desires. It is wondrous in its simplicity. ( )
  Maydacat | Jun 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 208 (next | show all)
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of what may be the most unlikely New York Times bestseller ever: Helene Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road. ...84 Charing Cross Road is a perfect example of why you can't judge a book by its cover, its length, or the unorthodox nature of its content. Ultimately what makes the book work is what makes any book work, whether fiction or nonfiction: the relationships between the characters....84 Charing Cross Road is at its core a book about lovers of books, and is at the same time one of the funniest and most touching books you'll ever read
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hanff, Heleneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Doel, Frankmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Anne BancroftIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gómez i Casademont, PuriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kooten, Barbara vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Premoli, MarinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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F.P.D. In Memoriam
First words
Gentlemen: Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out-of-print books.
Quotations
My friends are peculiar about books. They read all the best sellers, they get through them as fast as possible, I think they skip a lot. And they NEVER read anything a second time so they don't remember a word of it a year later. But they are profoundly shocked to see me drop a book in the wastebasket or give it away. The way they look at it, you buy a book, you read it, you put it on the shelf, you never open it again for the rest of your life but YOU DON'T THROW IT OUT! NOT IF IT HAS A HARD COVER ON IT! Why not? I personally can't think of anything less sacrosanct than a bad book or even a mediocre book. [54]
I do love secondhand books that open to the page some previous owner read oftenest. The day Hazlitt came he opened to "I hate to read new books," and I hollered "Comrade!" to whoever owned it before me. [7]
It [the Book Lover's Anthology] looks too new and pristine ever to have been read by anyone else, but it has been: it keeps falling open at the most delightful places as the ghost of its former owner points me to things I've never read before. [56]
Have you got De Tocqueville's Journey to America?  Somebody borrowed mine and never gave it back.  Why is it that people who wouldn't dream of stealing anything else think it's perfectly all right to steal books? [61]
A newspaper man I know, who was stationed in London during the war, says tourists go to England with preconceived notions, so they always find exactly what they go looking for.  I told him I'd go looking for the England of English literature, and he said:
"Then it's there." [13]
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the main work - Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road (unabridged).  Please do not combine with omnibus/combined editions, anthologies or abridged editions.

The UK edition titled 84 Charing Cross Road, ISBN 0860074382, 1844085244 and 1860498507, is actually an omnibus edition of this title and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.  Works identified as this omnibus should NOT be combined with this work, 84 Charing Cross Road.
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Information from the Spanish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
VIRAGO EDITION:
Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out-of-print books. The phrase 'antiquarian book-sellers' scares me somewhat, as I equate 'antique' with expensive. I am a poor writer with an antiquarian taste in books and all the things I want are impossible to get over here except in very expensive rare editions, or in Barnes and Noble's grimy, marked-up schoolboy copies.

So begins the delightfully reticent love affair between Miss Helene Hanff of New York and Messrs Marks and Co, sellers of rare and secondhand books, at 84 Charing Cross Road, London. For twenty years this outspoken New York writer and Frank Doel, a rather more restrained London bookseller, carry on an increasingly touching correspondence to the point where, in early December, 1949, Helene is suddenly worried that the six-pound ham she's sent off to augment British rations will arrive in a kosher office.
Soon they are sharing more personal news about Frank's family and Hanff's career. No doubt their letters would have continued, but in 1969 the firm's secretary informed Helene that Frank Doel had died. In the collection's penultimate entry, Helene Hanff urges a tourist friend, 'If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me. I owe it so much.'
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0140143505, Paperback)

84, Charing Cross Road is a charming record of bibliophilia, cultural difference, and imaginative sympathy. For 20 years, an outspoken New York writer and a rather more restrained London bookseller carried on an increasingly touching correspondence. In her first letter to Marks & Co., Helene Hanff encloses a wish list, but warns, "The phrase 'antiquarian booksellers' scares me somewhat, as I equate 'antique' with expensive." Twenty days later, on October 25, 1949, a correspondent identified only as FPD let Hanff know that works by Hazlitt and Robert Louis Stevenson would be coming under separate cover. When they arrive, Hanff is ecstatic--but unsure she'll ever conquer "bilingual arithmetic." By early December 1949, Hanff is suddenly worried that the six-pound ham she's sent off to augment British rations will arrive in a kosher office. But only when FPD turns out to have an actual name, Frank Doel, does the real fun begin.

Two years later, Hanff is outraged that Marks & Co. has dared to send an abridged Pepys diary. "i enclose two limp singles, i will make do with this thing till you find me a real Pepys. THEN i will rip up this ersatz book, page by page, AND WRAP THINGS IN IT." Nonetheless, her postscript asks whether they want fresh or powdered eggs for Christmas. Soon they're sharing news of Frank's family and Hanff's career. No doubt their letters would have continued, but in 1969, the firm's secretary informed her that Frank Doel had died. In the collection's penultimate entry, Helene Hanff urges a tourist friend, "If you happen to pass by 84, Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me. I owe it so much."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:11 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

What started as a request for an out-of-print book evolved into a 20-year friendship between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer living in New York, and Frank Doel, a used-book dealer in London.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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