84, CHARING CROSS ROAD

4 Sep

My last post reminded me that I totally neglected to give a review of one of my favorite books. So, here we are – inside 84, Charing Cross Road ….

“It is the loveliest old shop straight out of Dickens, you would go absolutely out of your mind over it. There are stalls outside and I stopped and leafed through a few things just to establish myself as a browser before wandering in. It’s dim inside, you smell the shop before you see it, it’s a lovely smell, I can’t articulate it easily, but it combines must and dust and age, and walls of wood and floors of wood. Toward the back of the shop at the left there’s a desk with a work-lamp on it, a man was sitting there, he was about fifty with a Hogarth nose, he looked up and said “Good afternoon?” in a North Country accent and I said I just wanted to browse and he said please do.” (Maxine [a friend] in a letter to Helene, of her visit to Marks and Co., the bookstore on Charing Cross Road – 10 September 1951)

A long distance friendship spans twenty years between an American writer and a London bookseller when the writer responds to an advertisement in a New York paper about antiquarian British books. “Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out-of-print books.”

…… if you are a romantic; a dreamer; if you are an obsessive book lover, you will most certainly love reading this literary correspondence of a friendship and love affair that you will not soon forget.

Helene Hanff (1916-1997)
American playwright and author

Frank Doel (1908-1968)
British antiquarian bookseller

Autobiography/epistolary-97 pages/soft cover

Avon books, a division of The Hearst Corporation 1974

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