Friday, 12 March 2010

84 Charing Cross Road (Hanff) 487

I read 84 Charing Cross Road as a teenager, and have revisited it recently by watching the wonderful film adaption starring Antony Hopkins, Anne Bancroft and Judi Dench. This is the perfect bibliophile's book - it is Helene's story of her correspondence with a British bookseller as she tries to procure obscure literary books that she is interested in that are unavailable in New York where she lives.

My Mum is a big fan of Helene Hanff, and I read a lot of her books as a child. I am currently trying to track down the sequel to this novel, The duchess of Bloomsbury street, which tells the tale of Helene visiting London for the first time. Such a shame that her other books have not been published by Virago.

It was published by Virago as one of their 30th anniversary hardbacks. It may well have been published in a paperback edition, but I can't track down a picture. Anyone know?



  1. It has been published as a paperback; the cover has a photograph of the shop on front and a sepia tone.

    I have the hardback copy above and that has The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street in it ... have you not read it? I thought you had and text me about it last week (am I losing my mind?)

    I think 84 Charing Cross is wonderfully charming and heartwarming; I first read my 30th anniversary edition when I first moved to London in '08.

  2. This is one of the few instances in which I am equally pleased and satisfied with a film as I am with the book that inspired it; I think they're both wonderful in this case.

  3. I absolutely love this book...really need to see the film.

  4. Loved the book and saw the film shortly afterwards but I was disappointed by it. I thought the film made it seem like there was an unrequited romantic love between the two main characters because of Hopkins long wistful looks whenever he read a letter from Helene. I did not get that impression at all from the book. It was purely a friendship that had grown from the letters and the love of books. Of course it was sad that they never had a chance to meet but that's also probably what made their story beautiful.

  5. Isn't that cover design the same endpapers for Persephone's edition of Saplings?

  6. I love Helen Hanff's books and would love to revisit them someday. 84 Charing Cross Road is my favorite!

  7. I have the same copy of the book, but am still to read it.

  8. The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street is in the back of 84 Charing Cross Road (the anniversary virago hardback edition). I was surprised to find it there myself when I read it!

  9. I have this edition, too and it's a great read. Many years ago I read other autobiographical books by Hanff about her life in America and her friends living in the same apartment block. Can't even remember what they were called but I enjoyed them very much. All seem to be out of print, now.

  10. Claire - I do now have the first edition of The duchess, but definitely want the hardback too for my collection.

    BIP - I found the film quite satisfying too. Good old Judi Dench and Antony Hopkins - you cant go wrong.

    JoAnn - I think you'd enjoy the film.

    Mrs B - I'm sorry you didn't like the film. Think it worked for me as so long since I'd read the book.

    Danielle - I want to read more of Hanff - I read Apple of my eye but none of the others.

    Another cookie - definitely worth coming onto at some day.

    HJE - I really want the hardback copy...

    Vintage - yes, she wrote a number of autobiographical books, must get my hands on some more.

  11. She wrote a really wonderful book called Q's Legacy, about her journey educating herself using Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch's books as a kind of coach. It's marvelous. I don't know if it's in print in the UK, but it's easily available here.

  12. Kate - that sounds intriguing!