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Helene Hanff (1916–1997)

Author of 84, Charing Cross Road

29+ Works 10,195 Members 504 Reviews 85 Favorited

About the Author

Series

Works by Helene Hanff

Associated Works

84 Charing Cross Road [1987 film] (1987) — Original book — 108 copies
The Library of Helene Hanff (1998) 16 copies

Tagged

20th century (131) America (55) American (104) American literature (58) autobiography (287) bibliophilia (77) biography (350) biography-memoir (46) books (464) books about books (527) books and reading (66) booksellers (62) bookstore (55) bookstores (98) British (65) correspondence (209) England (260) epistolary (266) fiction (318) friendship (76) Hanff (70) Helene Hanff (90) history (50) humor (83) letters (487) literature (147) London (329) memoir (853) New York (221) New York City (88) non-fiction (1,018) novel (47) own (57) read (198) reading (57) to-read (452) travel (133) USA (63) writing (50) WWII (63)

Common Knowledge

Birthdate
1916-04-15
Date of death
1997-04-09
Burial location
Mount Lebanon Cemetery, Glendale, New York, USA
Gender
female
Nationality
USA
Birthplace
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Place of death
New York, New York, USA
Occupations
publicist
playwright
magazine writer
author
screenwriter
autobiographer
Relationships
Quiller-Couch, Arthur (literary guru)
Short biography
Helene Hanff was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her parents loved the theater and even during the Great Depression managed to find ways to get tickets to shows for the family. She grew up wanting to become a playwright. Her literary career began in 1938, when she won a competition for a fellowship from the Bureau of New Plays and moved to Manhattan. There she became a protégé of Theresa Helburn, a co-producer of the Theater Guild. However, although she wrote 20 plays through the 1940's, none were produced. She later described her struggles in a 1961 memoir, Underfoot in Show Business. She found a new career writing for television when production of the new medium was centered in New York City in the early 1950s. Among the TV dramas she wrote for were The Adventures of Ellery Queen. All the while, she continued to try to get one of her plays produced on Broadway. When the bulk of the TV industry moved to California, Hanff chose to remain in New York. She turned to writing for magazines and eventually to books. Her hugely popular epistolary work 84, Charing Cross Road, first published in 1970, chronicled her 20 years of correspondence with Frank Doel, the chief buyer for Marks & Co., a London bookshop. She became so involved in the lives of the shop's staff that she sent them food parcels during Britain's post-World War II shortages, and shared with them details of her life. A TV adaptation aired in Britain in 1975, a film version was made in 1987 starring Anne Bancroft, and a Broadway play was produced in 1982. Hanff wrote several other works, and put her obsession with Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch to use in a book called Q's Legacy (1985), which served as a prequel to 84 Charing Cross Road and also recounted the aftermath of her book The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street (1973). Other books included Apple of My Eye (1977) and Letter from New York (1992), which reprinted the five-minute talks she gave each month on the BBC's Woman's Hour radio broadcasts between 1978 and 1984. Underfoot in Show Business was adapted as a stage play in 2008 and produced at the Devonshire Theatre in Eastbourne, UK.

Members

Discussions

1916: Helene Hanff - Resources and General Discussion in Literary Centennials (February 2016)

Reviews

Everything she writes feels like a personal note to the reader.
 
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grandpahobo | 32 other reviews | Apr 16, 2024 |
Witty, funny and a great insight into New York and the theater industry in the 40's and 50's.
 
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grandpahobo | 11 other reviews | Mar 31, 2024 |
Intriguing tale of books acquired and friendship and gifts across The Atlantic from NYC to London and back.

The author, erudite and offering intriguing advice, can also be annoying.
 
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m.belljackson | 347 other reviews | Mar 14, 2024 |
Funny and touching.
 
Flagged
grandpahobo | 347 other reviews | Mar 10, 2024 |

Lists

1970s (1)

Awards

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Associated Authors

Statistics

Works
29
Also by
2
Members
10,195
Popularity
#2,332
Rating
4.2
Reviews
504
ISBNs
147
Languages
14
Favorited
85

Charts & Graphs