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84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

84 Charing Cross Road (1970)

by Helene Hanff

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,1063021,649 (4.24)1 / 1007
Correspondence between Helene Hanff and agents of Marks & Co., chiefly Frank Doel.
Title:84 Charing Cross Road
Authors:Helene Hanff
Info:Folio Society
Collections:Your library

Work Information

84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (1970)

  1. 205
    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. 110
    The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff (Booksloth, Cecrow)
    Cecrow: A sort-of sequel to 84 Charing Cross Road, detailing Helen's visit to London, England.
  3. 40
    The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley (BasilBlue)
  4. 40
    The private papers of a bankrupt bookseller by William Young Darling (BasilBlue)
    BasilBlue: Fascinating peek at the nature of book sellers and book buyers in the early 20th century.
  5. 51
    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. 10
    Bibliophilia by N. John Hall (sneuper)
    sneuper: Like Bibliophilia, 84 Charing Cross Road is a correspondence between a collecter and an antiquarian bookseller.
  9. 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)
  10. 00
    The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss (MyriadBooks)
  11. 22
    Book Traveller by Bruce Bliven (trav)
  12. 11
    At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays by Anne Fadiman (Booksloth)
  13. 01
    Twice Born by Margaret Mazzantini (remeig)
  14. 01
    Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor (bnbookgirl, bnbookgirl)

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» See also 1007 mentions

English (270)  Spanish (10)  French (8)  Catalan (7)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Arabic (1)  All languages (302)
Showing 1-5 of 270 (next | show all)
An absolute delight. ( )
  Tosta | Jan 7, 2022 |
What a great book, I loved the story and the characters, a long time ago a friend recommended the book to me but I didn't read it right away after getting it because I'm not a fan of epistolary books, maybe I'll become one after this book. I was wrong to wait and now I'll have to see if I can track down a copy of the film to watch. ( )
  kevn57 | Dec 8, 2021 |
Lovely little book - read it from the library, got a copy from an LTer and immediately read it again (less than a week later). This will be a perennial. I only wish we could see more of the correspondence - there are replies to letters we don't get to see. But the relationship growing from formal and tentative to good friends is beautiful to watch. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Nov 3, 2021 |
My choice of this book was completely superficial: I couldn't bring my briefcase to work and I was in the middle of a longer book, so I had to pick something that was slim and short to entertain me on the subway and tuck away once I reached my destination. This book, given to me by Grandma Sybil, fit the bill.

The back text completely undersold the book. First of all, I didn't realize it was nonfiction (I think...?). Second, the way the "used-book dealer" was described, I was under the impression that the dealer was singular...and I guess I expected a stupid semi-romance. I was delighted to find it otherwise.

This collection of letters is perfect for all the ways that might make it frustrating for the unprepared reader: many of the letters are lost, correspondence goes in both directions from multiple different people and places, and much is left to the reader's knowledge base. I consider myself well-read in that I often recognize the contents of books and stories even if I haven't (yet) read them myself, but some of Helene Hanff's obscure requests really stumped me. I also, I will admit, was not clear that that she was joking in her first brusque letter or two--and they say that tone is difficult to convey in email!

There was so much personality in these letters. I used to write a lot of correspondence--paper and e--and while I do a lot less of it now, I don't know how much of my personality would show through my descriptions of things that happened to me.

This was a great example to look at as I'm typing up my great grandparents' letters from WWII. Almost none of my great grandmother's letters to my great grandfather survive while almost all of his to her do--but it's not impossible to work with, as this book with even fewer connecting pieces proves.

Finally, as someone who works in publishing, I had to love the permission-acquiring Epilogue. Just tickled me.

Quote Roundup

13 - 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."

27 - I love inscriptions on flyleaves and notes in margins, I like the comradely sense of turning pages someone else turned, and reading passages some one long gone has called to my attention.
I agree within reason. I would probably hate to read my own books, because when I do mark them up I tend to start conservatively and end up underlining whole pages by the end. But books where someone has left a little note in the margin every other page or so, that I do like. On the other hand, my experience with flyleaf inscriptions is that they tend to be more present in unread gift books I've picked up second-hand.

43 - Your mother is setting out bravely this morning to look at an apartment for you on 8th Avenue in the 50s... Maxine you know perfectly well your mother is not equipped to look at ANYTHING on 8th Avenue.
Had to laugh at this one. 8th Ave was my daily walk to and from work while I was interning at Columbia University Press. It's pretty tame now, but there are a few remnants of its past reputation here and there.

61 - Loved this letter for the requested prayers for the Brooklyn Dodgers, but also for the referenece to De Tocqueville. I know that name! The folks I looked up for that French translation have popped up all over the place, it seems. ( )
  books-n-pickles | Oct 29, 2021 |
This is an oddity of a book. Quite delightful, in these days of social isolation, in that most of the participants never meet.

Also delightful was the mutual delight in quality books (mine and the writers, that is).

However, you can't really rate this like an ordinary book. Even supposing Miss Hanff edited for clarity/ content (there are missing letters, mostly hers, that make you wonder if she was protecting something), it has no plot, gaping holes, and very little literary value... but yet it does. Or at least, seems to. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 270 (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 (40 possible)

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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Gentlemen: Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out-of-print books.
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]
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(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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Correspondence between Helene Hanff and agents of Marks & Co., chiefly Frank Doel.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
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.'
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