I walked along Charing Cross Road in London last Monday.
I decided to look for 84 Charing Cross Road.
I had walked on this road so many times before, but this was the only time I took a photograph of No 84.
The booksellers Marks & Co. used to occupy this site. A round gold-coloured plaque on a pillar of the outer wall tells of a moving story:
Inscription: 84 Charing Cross Road. The booksellers Marks & Co. were on this site which became world renowned through the book by Helene Hanff.
In 1970, Helene Hanff, an American writer, published a little book called 84, Charing Cross Road. The book is her memoir about her friendship with Frank Doel, chief buyer of Marks & Co, at 84 Charing Cross Road through their transatlantic letters from 1949 to 1969.
Her story was later turned into a stage play, television play and film.
I used to have a copy of this book. Many years ago, I also watched the beautiful film starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins.
84, Charing Cross Road is about love of books and words, and friendship. The transatlantic friendship was built on trust and love of books. Helen was warm and generous. The people in the bookshop became her family. She sent them parcels of food including those were still subject to rationing in post World War Two.
“If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me! I owe it so much.”
By Helene Hanff, from her book: 84, Charing Cross Road.
Such was their fate that Helene Hanff and Frank Doel never met. Frank died in December 1968 from peritonitis from a burst appendix, and the bookshop eventually closed. Helene visited Charing Cross Road in the summer of 1971. She stood in front of the empty shop. Sorrow engulfed her.
Here are two short video clips from the film, 84 Charing Cross Road.