The most enjoyable ‘collected letters’ I’ve ever read: 84, Charing Cross Road (and the Duchess of Bloomsbury street)

From 1950 to 1970, an American scriptwriter, Helene Hanff, embarked on self-education by book with the aid of some British secondhand booksellers. 84, Charing Cross Road is a collection of the letters which passed primarily between Hanff and the shop’s head buyer, Frank Doel. American candour and teasing on one side, British reserve and understatement on the other. Yet drawn into a mutually treasured friendship by their shared love of books. The second half, originally published as The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, contains Hanff’s diary of her visit to England following Doel’s death and the publication of 84, Charing Cross Road. In it she describes her visit, her encounters with her Charing Cross connections and other new and old friends and her experience of a country she had so long encountered only through books. Reading these letters and diary was like making several treasured new friends: books, authors and regular people. Thanks, Bron for the recommendation and loan!

84, Charing Cross Road is the collected correspondence of a woman and her bookseller but that doesn't convey the charm of this trans-Atlantic correspondence...
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