Saturday, March 1, 2008

84, Charing Cross Road

Each time I read a post from a blogger wondering what those outside of Blogland think of having blogger friends one has never met, I think of this wonderful little book.

In 1949, Helene Hanff was a writer in New York with little money and with "an antiquarian taste in books." She read an ad in a New York paper for Marks & Company, a London bookseller of rare and secondhand books, and wrote to them asking if they could find some out of print books for her, as the prices in the New York market were beyond her budget.

With that first letter began a twenty year correspondence of witty and endearing letters between Ms. Hanff and the employees of the book shop. The collection of letters was published in 1970, and a movie was made in 1987. (I just looked up the movie, which I saw on an overseas flight back then. I remembered it had Anne Bancroft in it, but I see now that it also had Anthony Hopkins and Judi Dench.)

Helene and the shop employees, primarily Frank Doel, wrote and sent gifts for twenty years, never having met or even spoken by phone.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? I'm very thankful we have this medium to make new friends - you are so dear to me!


  1. what a lovely story, thank you for sharing, and thanks for being one of my blogland friends!

  2. Oh, of course - you're right, that's eaxctly what it's like! Thank you for giving me a resource to answer the uninitiated next time.

  3. The concept of a penpal is nothing new either. I had one at high school who I met many years later. It's similar to that, just more immediate.

    I have heard the title before, but had no idea of the story behind that book/movie. I must look out for it.

  4. There is lovely symmetry there. Letters to and fro from people who may never meet. But a warmth develops all the same.

    I agree with dc - a great resource.

  5. I never read the book, but loved the movie. And thanks for being one of my blogland friends. I appreciate it more than you know!

  6. I am reaching out of my Blogland window to wave to you, Ginny, and say 'I'm so glad you found your way here.'


Thank you!