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84 Charing Cross Road

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  2,912 ratings  ·  497 reviews
'84 Charing Cross Road' is a charming record of bibliophilia, cultural difference, and imaginative sympathy. For 20 years, an outspoken New York writer and a rather more restrained London bookseller carried on an increasingly touching correspondence.

In her first letter to Marks & Co., Helene Hanff encloses a wish list, but warns, "The phrase 'antiquarian bo
Paperback, 230 pages
Published 2002 by Virago Press (first published 1976)
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  2,912 ratings  ·  497 reviews

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Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of epistolary novels and books, glorious books
I lived in London from 2004 to 2008 and still have a house there. I continue to travel to London regularly from Dubai. I call these trips my "sanity check"; they transport me from my 'dream' world back to the 'real' world.

One of my favourite haunts in London is Charing Cross Road. It's been the home to booksellers selling second-hand and rare books for decades. Long before the American writer Helene Hanff immortalised the street in 84 Charing Cross Road, the area enjoyed a storied association w
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2015
This charming book is a record of the correspondence between an American author, Helen Hanff, and antiquarian bookshop in London called Marks & Co. This correspondence begun after Hanff saw an advert for them, where they declared themselves as specialists in acquiring out of print books. Her first letter was sent to them in 1949. In it she declared herself to be a badly off writer who had a taste for old books. With the letter was a list of books that she had been unable to source in New Yor ...more
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Letters going between Helen Hanft and mostly Frank Doel is what this novel is about, but to say it like that does not explain what is so wonderful about these correspondences.
Helen is writing from America to a bookstore in London where Frank Doel works. This correspondence begins with her requesting to find nice books at a rate she can afford. The two begin to exchange letters that continue for years, until the untimely death of Frank.
Other members of the staff and Frank's wife also corre
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read 84 Charing Cross Road and its sequel, The Duchess of Bloomsbury, some years ago. In 2015, I had the opportunity to watch the darling, witty film adaptation, and a reread has been on the cards ever since. During September, I decided to pick it up once more.

The beautifully presented Sphere edition which I own contains both of the aforementioned, and from the very beginning, the entirety was so very comforting. My initial feeling on dipping back into its pages was one of sheer delight, wh
Mar 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know it's kind of pathetic that I continue to re-read books, but I was at a low point several weeks ago and needed something to help cheer me up.

84, Charing Cross Road is a charming book, and as I was reading, my fellow bus and metro passengers may have been wondering why I was smiling so much.

Actually, my volume has two parts: The first is 84, Charing Cross Road and the second is The Duchess of Bloombury Street. The former is the correspondence between Helene Hanff (a lover of used books) and the st/>84,
Mike Sumner
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read 84, Charing Cross Road back in the 70s. It is timeless. I came across this paperback and couldn't resist reading again. It is a beautiful, classic memoir of friendship and bibliophilia, twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, an American writer in New York, and Marks & Co. antiquarian booksellers in Charing Cross Road, London where Frank Doel became her main correspondent.

Letters, books and quips crossed the ocean from 1949 until 1969 and a friendship flourished as
Jun 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: book lovers everywhere
Recommended to Lindi by: Lee Sparks
This is one of my favorite books of all time. Helene Hanff is so very funny, and I am always moved by the friendship that develops through letters between her and a used book seller. I also love her obvious affection for books and reading; she is definitely a kindred spirit. This is the book I was reading (for the first time) 20+ years ago in the story Kitri wrote about me on her GoodReads page. For those not in the know, as I sat on the floor finishing the last few letters, I became the center ...more
This is not your ordinary love story but it is the kind of romance every bibliophile dreams. An epistolary memoir that spans decades of transatlantic correspondence between writer Helene Hanff and Marks & Co antiquarian bookseller, Frank Dole. Not only does the book-loving feels very validating but to read about someone who cares enough about second hand, leather bound, and first edition books where descriptions and disappointments, whilst surrounded with everyday life, are laced in humour a ...more
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me! I owe it so much.”

Even though the bookshop itself is long gone, you can rest assured that I will be walking by where it stood next time I am in London. I shall buy a new copy of 84 Charing Cross Road and I shall leave it there for someone to find, a reminder of just how much Helene Hanff, even at a distance, loved the place.

You see, I feel like I too owe it quite a lot. If it weren’t for the bookshop and the wonderful people that kept
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘An unmitigated delight from cover to cover’ it says on the cover of my book, and that is exactly what it is. This little volume is divided into two parts: The first part is the epistolary story (it’s not a novel; it’s too short plus it’s not fiction) - a letter exchange between Helene Hanff, book collector living in New York, and the manager of a second-hand book shop in London (and some of the people in his vicinity) lasting over twenty years. The second part, The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, ...more
Liina Bachmann
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2016
Reading this is like sitting in a cafe with a good friend from way back, eating Pavlova cake and letting the afternoon slide by, with cognac and coffee. Absolutely charming, witty, elegant and funny little book. Quite a bit nostalgic as well. Loved everything about it!
Vimal Thiagarajan
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's always a curious indulgence to read other people's letters, more so if those people had come to know of each other through books and had grown to be friends due to a mutual taste in a particular brand of literature, even more so if the content of their letters isn't limited to trivia from their mutual lives, and even more so if the correspondence spans decades but isn't really obsessive-compulsive. A breezy read.
Bought it this afternoon on a whim. Twenty pages in, and I'm in love already.
Dhanaraj Rajan
Jan 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This edition contains two books that were separately published. They are: 84, Charing Cross Road and Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.


This is a five star book. It contains some letters. And the letters were not written by some literary giants. In fact, the letters were exchanged between a 'script writer' for TV programs in New York and a person employed in a bookshop in London. The correspondence was mostly about the placement of orders for books. And the period was betwee
Bluetiful Hadeel
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: in-my-library
Just to make things clear, this book has two literary works of Helene Hanff:
84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.

I didn't want it to end.
I would give it more than 5 stars if i could.

My favorite books have increased. 

I have been to the UK too many times before and I do love it immensely but after reading this book, I "need" to go again and again.

Reading this very charming book was an adventure through my favor
84 Charing Cross Road documents twenty-year of correspondences between Helene Hanff and Frank Doel. Helene was an American writer while Frank the chief buyer of Marks & Co, an antiquarian bookseller located at the eponymous address in London, England. Starting out as a request for obscure classics, the book follows the blossoming relationship with Helene and the people of Marks & Co. Followed by The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, a collection of diary entries of Helene’s trip to England a ...more
I must be the only person on the planet who hadn't already read this one, although I do remember hearing at least part of it serialised on the radio at some stage or other. On my Easter break, doing stuff that involves hanging around offices waiting to have the forms you filled in at home checked, it looked like the best option to fill in those empty hours. That's a bit scathing isn't it? Useful as a filler. Actually, and this, I'm sure, will come as no surprise to anyone, it's gawjus. It's snor ...more
❂ Jennifer
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There isn't a thing I could say about this book that hasn't already been said. I loved it - every single word.

Full review:
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This slim book starts as a collection of letters exchanged between Helene Hanff and Frank Doel, but also other staff and family members, between 1949-1969. Helene is an American book lover and Frank Doel works for a London bookshop. The correspondence begins as Helene seeks clean, good copies of used books to add to her library that she cannot find near her New York home. She also wants to develop a literary link with England.

Helene is a feisty, amusing correspondent and Frank is a rather more
Mary Durrant
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
A charming gem of a book.
I love inscriptions on fly leaves and margins!
A beautifully written book of letters from one book lover to another.
Sadly by the time Helen visited London Frank Doel had died.
Witty and charming.
I loved the bit describing the dogs in Central Park.
Makes me yearn to visit London again.
May 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing
What a BEAUTIFUL book! I loved it, took a lot of notes and now I'm craving for English literature. What a book can do to you...

Read this book through BookCrossing (a RABCK from pinklady60) and passed it on after reading it
Jan 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
A charming tale which was lovely to read, from days gone by. Very nostalgic and sweet story.
Christa Schönmann Abbühl
This sat on my nightstand for a long time. I occasionally took it up and read another chapter. There was no urgency in it, but it was always a pleasure. I like her turn of phrase.

I do not know enough about the times and the places and even the books she talks about, but I do love books, and London, and history, and that connects us.

I should add that this book has two parts. I finished the first part, which is an exchange of letters between the author in New York and her London bookseller, a lo
Dec 14, 2018 rated it liked it
84 Charing Cross Road: 3.5 stars
The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street: 3 stars
Polly Clarke
I've read no other reviews, have never watched the film and this version of the book continues from the original making it 230 pages.

The first half is made up of the original letters send to and received mainly from a bookseller, Frank and his co-workers, at 84 Charing Cross Road to Helene Hanff in New York City. It's a cosy read which develops through time into friendships. Helene's romance is with books and with the idea of London, being very different from her own lifestyle. She m
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I first saw the film based on this collection of letters and reminiscences, and years later was thrilled to find the book in a 2nd hand shop. The letters tell of the author's decades-long relationship with the bookshop in the title, as she collected "antiquarian" books (ie greats of English letters). In "The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street" we read how she finally got to London and met some of the people connected with the bookshop, as well as many others. In this section she admits that yes, she c ...more
Jun 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-britain
I’d probably give this 3 1/2 stars, but 3 is fine also. This was an entertaining, easy, and quick read, based on a series of letters written between a woman in New York and the people who run a book shop in England.
Such a delightful book. It took me ages to find a copy! While looking for a secondhand copy for the past 12 years.... I decided to recommend a purchase to the's the only one that has been indefinitely on order for the past 2 years!
During a visit to my Aunty and Uncle in Bungendore I bemoaned my lack of this book. We were sipping on cups of tea from blue china under the veranda of their 150 year old Stone Cottage (which also house their little antique shop in the front two ro
Beth Lind
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short, funny and charming. We’ve really lost the art of letter writing and this book makes me yearn for it.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just a delightful read. I enjoyed 84 Charing Cross Road -- the back and forth banter and encouragement between Helene and Frank is endearing and humorous. I really wished for some notes in between letters, as there are gaps where it seems a letter went missing. Yet, part of me realizes that would have broken the flow of the epistolary nature of the book and the natural evolution of the correspondence. It is remarkable any of the letters survived so many years! I rooted for Helene to get herself ...more
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Helene Hanff (April 15, 1916–April 9, 1997) was an American writer. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she is best known as the author of the book 84 Charing Cross Road, which became the basis for a play, teleplay, and film of the same name.

Her career, which saw her move from writing unproduced plays to helping create some of the earliest television dramas to becoming a kind of professiona
“I do think it's a very uneven exchange of Christmas presents. You'll eat yours up in a week and have nothing left to show for it by New Year's Day. I'll have mine till the day I die - and die happy in the knowledge that I'm leaving it behind for someone else to love. I shall sprinkle pale pencil marks through it pointing out the best passages to some book-lover yet unborn.” 4 likes
“Why should I run all the way down to 17th St. to buy dirty, badly made books whenI can buy clean, beautiful ones
from you without leaving the typewriter? From whereI sit,London’s a lot closer than 17th Street.”
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