84 CHARING CROSS ROAD HELENE HANFF PDF

Anywhere I went that offered a chance to sign up to be a pen pal, I did with earnest. None of the pen pals ended up amounting to much, but it was thrilling to receive letters from them in the mail. I come from a line of pen pal writers as my mother wrote to an English girl her age for her entire childhood and teenaged years. It comes of less of a surprise that I would be lead to 84, Charing Cross Road , a short book of correspondence by former television writer Helene Hanff.

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It was not her first book her brilliant but sadly out of print memoir Underfoot in Show Business appeared in , but it was the one that made her famous. It was the one that would be turned into a radio play, a stage play and a film starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. It was the one that, ultimately, brought her year-old cousin to her door. When I arrived for that first visit, the apartment was full of the books acquired from 84 Charing Cross Road.

That first day, she located a rolled-up family tree and unfurled it on her dining table. There — she pointed to one end of the long horizontal document — were her people, and there — she pointed to the other — were mine. But we agreed to call ourselves cousin in perpetuity. But when I proposed a review of 84 to Seventeen Magazine a few months after first meeting Helene, and when that review was published my first ever publication , my name appeared as Jean Hanff Korelitz, and so it has been ever since.

In fact, nothing irritates me more than reporters or reviewers who blithely leave it out. Our mutual love of England ran a very close second to our shared love of books and writing. I was luckier. I made it to London aged six, an event I recorded in my diary with coloured markers to convey my sense of occasion. And in , after graduating from college, I returned to spend two years at Cambridge University. One day, during my time at Cambridge, I caught the train down to London to meet Helene.

After that first visit in she came regularly to England, where she was entertained with immense kindness by her publishers, Andre Deutsch and Diana Athill, and treated to the kind of celebrity whirlwind newspaper profiles! Television interviews! The occasion on that particular day was especially meaningful for my cousin, who had gathered many of her friends to witness the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at the address she had made famous.

How amazed would she have been to know that, after her death, the apartment building at East 72nd Street would formally name itself Charing Cross House in her honour? She lived long enough to read my first novel, published in She also lived long enough to let me know how little she thought of it.

Five minutes later she called back, in tears. On the day of her funeral, I travelled into Manhattan from my home in New Jersey. I burst out laughing, and I know Helene would also have appreciated this moment of absurdity. Nevertheless, in all the years that have passed since, I have never been able to look at my old green footstool without thinking of Helene. I think she would have loved that, too.

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84, Charing Cross Road

It was not her first book her brilliant but sadly out of print memoir Underfoot in Show Business appeared in , but it was the one that made her famous. It was the one that would be turned into a radio play, a stage play and a film starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. It was the one that, ultimately, brought her year-old cousin to her door. When I arrived for that first visit, the apartment was full of the books acquired from 84 Charing Cross Road. That first day, she located a rolled-up family tree and unfurled it on her dining table. There — she pointed to one end of the long horizontal document — were her people, and there — she pointed to the other — were mine.

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84 Charing Cross Road made me a writer

She wrote a memoir in called Underfoot in Show Business [2] that chronicled her struggles as an ambitious young playwright trying to make it in the world of New York theatre in the s and s. The bulk of television production eventually moved to California, but Hanff chose to remain in New York. As her TV work dried up, she turned to writing for magazines and, eventually, to the books that made her reputation. She depended on the bookshop—and on Doel—for the obscure classics and British literature titles that fueled her passion for self-education. Due to financial difficulties and an aversion to travel, she put off visiting her English friends until too late; Doel died in December from peritonitis from a burst appendix , and the bookshop eventually closed. Hanff did finally visit Charing Cross Road and the empty but still-standing shop in the summer of , a trip recorded in her book The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street.

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