84 Charing Cross Road (1987) - full transcript
When a humorous script-reader in her New York apartment sees an ad in the Saturday Review of Literature for a bookstore in London that does mail order, she begins a very special correspondence and friendship with Frank Doel, the bookseller who works at Marks & Co., 84 Charing Cross Road.
Want a word of advice?
Don't trust the cab drivers.
They'll take you five miles
to go three blocks.
And don't waste your time
looking at a street map.
Nobody can find their way around London.
Not even Londoners.
Maybe I should go to Baltimore instead.
You'll enjoy it.
London's a great place.
What kind of trip is it,
business or pleasure?
Where to, luv?
84 Charing Cross Road.
Gentlemen: Your ad in the
Saturday Review of Literature...
says that you specialize
in out-of-print books.
They're all pretty uncommon.
I don't want lsaiah's personal copy
of the Old Testament.
These are famous books by famous writers!
They're British books by British writers.
Nobody asks for them anymore.
I did. Everything is so fancy over there.
Haven't you got any cheap editions?
Some, but not the ones you want.
It's the fourth bookstore
I've been to this morning.
Doesn't anyone read
English literature in New York?
October 5, 1949.
To Marks & Co., 84 Charing Cross Road.
London WC2, England.
Your ad in the Saturday Review
of Literature says...
that you specialize in out-of-print books.
The phrase "antiquarian booksellers"
scares me somewhat...
as I equate "antique" with expensive.
I'm a poor writer
with an antiquarian taste in books.
All the things I want
are impossible to get over here.
Except in very expensive, rare editions.
I enclose a list of my most
If you have clean, second-hand copies
of any of the books on the list...
for no more than $5 each,
will you consider this a purchase order...
and send them to me?
Very truly yours...
Ln reply to your letter of October 5...
we have managed to clear up
two-thirds of your problem.
The three Hazlitt essays you want
are contained in the...
Nonesuch Press edition
of his Selected Essays.
And the Stevenson is found in...
We are sending nice copies by book post
and trust they will arrive safely...
and that you will be pleased with them.
Our invoice is enclosed with the books.
The Leigh Hunt essays won't be so easy.
But we'll try to find an attractive volume
with them all in.
We haven't the Latin Bible you describe...
but we have a Latin New Testament,
also a Greek New Testament.
Ordinary modern editions in cloth binding.
Would you like these?
Yours faithfully, FPD, for Marks & Co.
- Helene Hanff.
- Hi, it's me.
- Hi, Maxine.
- Wait till I tell you what happened.
I can't talk now. I slept through my alarm.
- Call you tonight?
- Okay, fine.
Call you later, bye-bye.
14 East 95th Street, New York City.
November 3, 1949.
Gentlemen: The books arrived safely.
The Stevenson is so fine it embarrasses
my orange-crate bookshelves.
I'm afraid to handle such soft vellum
and heavy cream-colored pages.
Being used to the dead-white paper
and cardboard covers of American books...
I never knew a book could be
such a joy to the touch.
Hi, Helene. I thought I'd find you in here.
- Come on, we're going to be late.
- Won't be a minute.
A Britisher whose girl lives upstairs...
translated the 1 pound 17 shillings
and sixpence for me...
and says I owe you $5.30 for the books.
Are you sure that's right?
Let me check.
1 pound, 17, 6,
that's 37 and a half shillings, divided by...
Yes, that's right. $5.30.
I enclose a $5 bill and a single.
Use the 70 cents toward the price
of the New Testaments...
both of which I want.
Please translate prices hereafter.
I don't add too well in plain American.
I haven't a prayer
of mastering bilingual arithmetic.
Yours, Helene Hanff.
I hope "madam" doesn't mean there
what it means here.
She sent us $6.
She's 70 cents over.
Dear Miss Hanff: Your $6 arrived safely.
We'd feel easier if you sent remittances
by postal money order in the future.
This would be safer for you
than entrusting dollar bills to the mails.
We're very happy
you liked the Stevenson so much.
We have sent off the New Testaments
with an invoice listing the amount due...
in both pounds and dollars.
We hope you will be pleased with them.
What kind of a black,
Protestant Bible is this!
Kindly inform the Church of England
they have loused up...
the most beautiful prose ever written.
Who told them to tinker
with the Vulgate Latin?
They'll burn for it, mark my words.
It's nothing to me, I'm Jewish myself.
But I have a Catholic and a Methodist
a whole raft of Presbyterian cousins
through my great-uncle Abraham...
who was converted, and an aunt
who's a Christian Science healer.
I'd like to think none of them would
countenance this Anglican Latin Bible...
if they knew it existed.
As it happens,
they don't know Latin existed.
I enclose $4 to cover the $3.88 due you.
Buy yourself a cup of coffee
with the 12 cents.
There's no post office near,
and I'm not running all the way...
to Rockefeller Plaza to stand in line
for a $3.88 money order.
If I wait until I get down there
for something else, I won't have the $3.88.
I have implicit faith in the U.S. Airmail
and His Majesty's Postal Service.
Have you got a copy of Landor's
I think there are several volumes.
I want the one with the Greek conversations.
If it contains a dialogue
between Aesop and Rhodope...
that will be the volume I want.
That, I think, is the one we've got.
Landor, lmaginary Conversations.
Dig it out, would you?
Dear Miss Hanff: Your $4 arrived safely...
and we have credited the 12 cents
to your account.
We have in stock Volume 2 of The Works
and Life of Walter Savage Landor...
which contains the Greek dialogues
as well as the Roman dialogues.
It is an old edition published in 1876,
not very handsome, but well-bound...
and a good, clean copy.
We are sending it off to you today
with invoice enclosed.
I'm sorry we made the mistake
with the Latin Bible.
We'll try to find a Vulgate for you.
Not forgetting Leigh Hunt.
Yours faithfully, FPD, for Marks & Co.
Very nice. Very tasty.
Lt feels witless to keep writing
when the same solitary soul is obviously
taking care of everything for me.
Savage Landor arrived and promptly
fell open to a Roman dialogue...
where two cities
had just been destroyed by war.
Everyone was being crucified
and begging Roman soldiers...
to run them through and end the agony.
It'll be a relief to turn to Aesop and
Rhodope where the only worry is a famine.
I love used books that open to the page
a previous owner read oftenest.
When Hazlitt came, he opened to
"I hate to read new books."
And I hollered, "Comrade!"
to whoever owned it before me.
I enclose $1, which Brian,
Kay's British boyfriend...
says will cover the 8 shillings I owe you.
You forgot to translate it.
Only two per family, luv.
Brian told me you are all rationed
to two ounces of meat per family a week...
and one egg per person per month!
I am simply appalled.
Somebody told Brian
about this firm in Denmark.
They ship food packages to England.
- I use them to send food to my mother.
- Show her the catalogue.
They're very reliable. Cheap, too.
Look at this.
They've got spiced lard, liver paste,
meatballs, chocolate shortcake...
margarine, eggs, cheese.
They've got everything!
Brian's mother couldn't believe her eyes.
- What did you send her?
- Tin of ham, sausages.
Tinned fruit, plums, raspberries.
"Rahzberries." Don't you love that!
A whole country says "rahzberries!"
They sure do, ma'am!
This is terrific. Let's make a list.
Where should we start?
We must send a ham. It's Christmas.
How about some soup?
Mulligatawny soup. They'd like that.
What else should we send? Vegetables?
- What don't they have?
- Haricots verts.
There's two types of haricots verts:
There's "choicest" or there's "choice"!
Bananas? Let's send a banana!
I'm sending it care of you, FPD...
whoever you are.
No?l. Helene Hanff.
Pass me one of those cards
to hang over the mirror.
The church or Father Christmas?
- Which do you like?
- Father Christmas.
- How are you getting along?
- All right.
- What are you cooking?
- Mince pies.
How are you getting on?
Sheila, pass me the holly.
Be careful. Don't prick yourself.
Don't laugh. I'm bleeding.
What are you laughing at?
I sent that package off
with a six-pound ham in it!
I figured you could slice it up
and everybody could take some home.
I noticed on your last invoice, it says:
"B. Marks. M. Cohen. Proprietors."
Are they kosher?
I could rush a tongue over.
Dear Miss Hanff:
A note to let you know
that your gift parcel arrived safely today.
Mr. Marks and Mr. Cohen insisted
that we divide it up among ourselves...
and not include the bosses.
Everything in the parcel
was something we never see...
or can only get through the black market.
It was generous of you to think of us
and we are extremely grateful.
- How did she order it from Copenhagen?
- Heaven knows.
Best wishes for 1950.
Frank Doel, for Marks & Co.
- Can I help you?
- Yes, please.
Do you have any color prints?
A man, I can't remember his name,
does pictures of people.
They're composed of objects:
Fruit, flowers, cauliflowers, cabbages.
The faces. 18th or 19th century.
French, I think.
Grotesque. Very highly colored.
- Sort of fruit and vegetables?
- Giuseppe Arcimboldo.
- Yes! That's right.
Do you have any of his work?
Hello, Willie. How are you?
I want four slices of pepper salami,
four slices of Swiss cheese...
and a quarter pound of bacon.
We're out of pepper salami.
- Out of it?
- Nobody likes pepper salami.
- I like it.
- I should buy it special for you?
I'm your best customer.
Okay, I'm not your best customer.
what are you doing over there?
You aren't doing anything,
you're just sitting around.
Where is Leigh Hunt?
Where is The Oxford Verse?
Where is the Vulgate and dear goofy
John Henry Newman?
I thought they'd be such uplifting reading
for Lent, and nothing do you send me!
I sit here writing long margin notes
in library books that don't belong to me.
Someday they'll find out I did it
and take my library card away.
I require a book of love poems,
with spring coming on.
No Keats or Shelley.
Send me poets who can make love
Wyatt or Jonson. Use your own judgment.
A nice book small enough
to stick in my pocket...
and take to Central Park.
Don't just sit there, go and find it!
I swear I don't know
how that shop keeps going.
- Beautiful set, is it not?
- Very nice.
Have you got the D?rer catalogue?
Dear Miss Hanff:
Please don't let Frank know
I'm writing this.
But each time I send you a bill,
I've been dying to slip in a note...
and he might not think it
quite proper of me.
That sounds stuffy, and he's not.
He's quite nice, really.
Very nice, in fact.
But he looks on you
as his private correspondent...
as all your letters and parcels
are addressed to him.
But I thought I'd write to you on my own.
"We all love your letters and try to imagine
what you must be like."
"I've decided you're young
and very sophisticated and smart-looking."
What's so funny?
"Mr. Martin thinks
you must be studious-looking...
"in spite of your wonderful sense of humor.
- "Why don't you send us a snapshot?"
- Why don't you?
I'm finally a woman of mystery.
I'm going to keep it that way.
- "If you're curious about Frank..."
- Which you are.
"He's in his late 30s, quite nice-looking."
"Married to a sweet lrish girl."
"I believe she's his second wife."
- Ready for Act 2, Miss Bellamy.
- Thank you, Elliot.
I'll call you, take care.
Everyone was so grateful for the parcel.
My little ones, girl, 5 and boy, 4,
were in heaven.
With the raisins and egg
I was able to make them a cake.
I do hope you don't mind my writing.
Please don't mention it to Frank.
- Are you busy?
- We must do some letters.
- Yes, coming.
With best wishes, Cecily Farr.
Dear Cecily: And a very bad cess
to old Mr. Martin.
I'm so unstudious,
I never even went to college.
I just have a peculiar taste in books.
And I'm about as smart-looking
as a Broadway panhandler.
I live in moth-eaten sweaters
and wool slacks.
They don't give us heat in the daytime.
It's a five-story brownstone...
the other tenants go to work at 9 a.m.
and aren't home until 6.
Why should the landlord heat the building
for one script reader, writer...
working at home?
I'm Ed. This is Ginny.
Okay, Helene, lead the way.
- Do you live around here?
- No, we're looking.
We're getting married soon.
What kind of place are you looking for?
- I wouldn't say fancy.
- Two or three bedrooms.
Big enough for a family.
Something overlooking the park.
That would be nice.
How many rooms have you got?
Well, I have a workroom, a sitting room...
a bedroom, a dining room and a kitchen.
And here it is.
Poor Frank, I give him such a hard time.
I'm always bawling him out.
I'm only teasing,
but I know he'll take me seriously.
I keep trying to puncture
that proper British reserve.
If he gets ulcers, I did it.
How's the tea coming along?
It's almost ready.
What would we do without our cups of tea?
Life would be insupportable,
how would it not?
The train from Ketchworth
is now arriving at Platform 3.
The train from Ketchworth
is now arriving at Platform 3.
For meeting you in the first place,
and taking the grit out of your eye.
For loving you.
For bringing you so much misery.
I'll forgive you if you'll forgive me.
Write and tell me about London.
I live for the day
when I step off the boat train...
and feel its dirty sidewalks under my feet.
I want to walk up Berkeley Square
and down Wimpole Street...
and stand in St. Paul's
where John Donne preached.
And sit where Elizabeth sat,
refusing to enter the Tower...
and places like that.
A newspaper man I know,
who was in London during the war says...
tourists go to England
with preconceived notions...
so they find exactly
what they go looking for.
I told him I'd go looking for the England
of English literature.
And he said, "Then, it's there."
Dear Miss Hanff:
This is to tell you we have in stock
The Oxford Book of English Verse.
Quite a nice Jonson.
Printed on lndia paper,
original blue cloth binding...
Inscription in ink on the flyleaf,
but a good second-hand copy.
We quote before sending,
in case you've already purchased a copy.
Hardy, limited edition.
Some time ago you asked us
for Newman's ldea of a University.
Very nice indeed.
Are you interested in a first edition?
We'll put that aside for Miss Hanff.
He has a first edition
of Newman's University for $6!
"Do I want it?" He asks innocently.
Dear Frank: Yes, I want it!
I won't be fit to live with myself.
I don't care about first editions per se,
but a first edition of that book!
All I have to say to you, Frank Doel...
is we live in depraved
and degenerate times...
when a bookshop tears up
beautiful old books...
to use as wrapping paper.
Worse, you tore the book up
in the middle of a battle...
and I don't even know which war it was!
Take a look at this. Isn't that beautiful?
It's a first edition, my dear.
One hundred years old.
I feel guilty owning it.
All that leather and gold stamping.
It belongs in a library
in some English country home.
It should be read by a fire,
in a leather easy chair...
not on some second-hand,
in a broken-down brownstone front.
If I was this book,
I'd want to live right here.
Dear Miss Hanff:
Sorry for the delay in answering,
but I've been out of town for a week.
I'm now trying to catch up
on my correspondence.
You look lovely.
First of all...
please don't worry about us
using old books for wrapping.
Mary, you can wear it tomorrow.
In this case, they were two odd volumes
with the covers detached.
They're so good.
Nobody would have given us
a shilling for them.
- I'll see to that.
We're glad you liked the Q anthology.
We have no copy of The Oxford Book
of English Prose in stock...
but will try to find one for you.
There are five of us in the shop,
not including Mr. Marks and Mr. Cohen.
- See you later.
Have a nice time.
- Are you enjoying yourself?
- Yes. When did we last...
I don't remember.
Let's have a drink.
- Look at the lights.
- We should dance more often.
- I can't.
- That's nonsense.
- Isn't that the Savoy?
- No, it's the Shell building.
It's a long time since we've done that.
I can't dance. All right, once more.
- You look so beautiful!
- Thank you!
Have lots of babies! I'll baby-sit!
Have a dog, too!
Helene, you are amazing!
Yes, I am.
I drink to you and the best-looking
Yorkshire pudding this side of the Atlantic.
To Helene and the Yorkshire pudding.
- Here, here.
Happy birthday, Brian.
Bon voyage, Maxine.
Why you're going to England and I'm not,
God only knows!
Yorkshire pudding out of this world.
We have nothing like it.
I described it to someone as a high,
curved, smooth, empty waffle.
Who is this?
A producer who likes my plays,
but not enough to produce them, phoned.
He's producing a TVseries.
Do I want to write for television?
"Two bills," he said carelessly.
What do you mean, "two bills"?
It turns out he meant $200 a script!
And me, a $40-a-week script reader!
I go to see him tomorrow.
10:30? Sure, yes, I'll be there.
See you then.
Keep your fingers crossed.
Here we are. Pork sausages.
And some ham.
Dear Miss Hanff:
Your Easter parcels to Marks & Co.
Arrived safely a few days ago.
We were all quite dazzled to see the meat.
And the eggs and tins were so very welcome.
I felt I must write
and say how very grateful...
we all are for your kindness and generosity.
My word, this looks good.
My dear, the meat!
You shouldn't spend your money so.
It must have cost a packet!
Bless you for your kind heart.
You know who sent them?
Remember the lady?
Dear Miss Hanff:
For nearly two years I have worked
as a cataloguer at Marks & Co...
and want to thank you for my share-out
in the parcels you've been sending.
I live with my great-aunt...
who is 75.
Do please look, Auntie.
I think that...
if you had seen her delight
when I brought home the meat...
and the tin of tongue,
you would know how grateful we are.
I don't like that it came
all the way from America.
It only came from Denmark, Auntie.
It's good to know that someone
so many miles away...
can be so kind and generous
to people they haven't even seen.
I think everyone in the firm feels the same.
If you know of anything that
you would like sent over from London...
I will be most happy to see to it for you.
Sincerely, Bill Humphries.
What a treat! What a treat!
Dear Miss Hanff:
I expect you are worried that
we have not thanked you for your parcels...
and are probably thinking
that we are an ungrateful lot.
The truth is,
I have been chasing around the country...
in and out of various stately homes
trying to buy a few books
to fill up our sadly depleted stock.
My wife was starting
to call me "The Lodger..."
just went home for bed and breakfast.
But when I arrived home
with a nice piece of meat...
to say nothing of dried eggs and ham...
then she thought I was a fine fellow,
and all was forgiven.
It is a long time since we saw
so much meat all in one piece.
Lots 40 through 49 are on the next landing.
- Good morning, John.
- Good morning.
We should like to express our appreciation
in some way...
so we are sending by book post today...
a little book which I hope you will like.
I remember you asked me for a volume
of Elizabethan love poems.
This is the nearest I can get to it.
To Helene Hanff with best wishes
and thanks for many kindnesses...
from all at 84 Charing Cross Road.
London, April, 1951.
To all at 84 Charing Cross Road:
Thank you for this beautiful book.
I've never owned a book with pages
edged in gold.
Would you believe it arrived on my birthday?
Too bad you were so over-courteous
and put the inscription on a card...
instead of on the flyleaf.
It's the bookseller in you all.
You were afraid you'd decrease its value.
You'd have increased it for this owner...
and possibly for future owners.
I love inscriptions on flyleaves
and notes in margins.
I like the comradely sense
of turning pages someone else turned...
and reading passages someone long gone
has called my attention to.
Why didn't you sign your names?
I expect Frank wouldn't let you.
He probably doesn't want me
writing love letters to anyone but him.
It's a lovely shop, straight out of Dickens.
You would go absolutely
out of your mind over it.
There are stalls outside...
and I stopped to establish myself
as a browser before wandering in.
It's dim inside.
You can smell the shop before you see it.
It's a lovely smell.
It's hard to describe,
but it combines must and dust and age...
and walls and floors of wood.
At the back of the shop there's a desk.
A man was sitting there with a Hogarth nose.
He looked up and said:
"So sorry. Good afternoon."
- Would you like some help?
- May I look around?
Oh, yes. Of course. Please do.
The shelves go on forever.
They go up to the ceiling
and they're very old and gray...
like old oak that absorbed so much dust
over the years...
they no longer are their true color.
There's a print selection...
or rather a long print table
with Cruikshank, Rackham...
and Spy and all those
old English caricaturists and illustrators...
that I'm not smart enough
to know a lot about.
There are some lovely old
I stayed about half an hour
hoping your Frank...
or one of the girls would turn up.
They must have been all out to lunch,
and I couldn't stay any longer.
What kind of a Pepys' Diary...
do you call this?
This is not...
This is some busybody...
from Pepys' Diary.
May he rot.
I could just spit.
two limp singles.
I will make do...
with this until you get me...
a real Pepys.
I will rip up...
this ersatz book...
page by page...
and wrap things in it!
Fresh eggs or powdered for Christmas?
The powdered lasts longer...
but fresh farm eggs from Denmark
have got to taste better.
Want to take a vote on it?
Vote Pestell and keep the Tories out.
Vote Reg Pestell,
your Labour Party candidate.
Vote Pestell and keep the Tories out.
Dear Miss Hanff:
First of all,
let me apologize for the Pepys'.
I honestly thought it was
the complete Braybrooke edition.
I can understand how you felt when
your favorite passages were missing.
I promise to look at the next
reasonably priced copy that I get...
and if it contains the passage you want,
I will send it along.
About the eggs.
I've talked to the rest of the inmates...
and we all seem to think that
the fresh ones would be nicer.
There we are.
New York during rush hour.
Ginny, I'm so sorry.
Would you like something to drink?
She can help herself.
She knows where everything is.
If you get hungry, there's cold chicken,
salad in the icebox, and chocolate cake.
- You want to miss the whole of Act 1?
- We'll be home after 11:00.
All right. See you then.
Don't worry. I'll take care of everything.
- Baby, dog, everything.
Let's have a drink, shall we?
You dizzy me, rushing Leigh Hunt
and the Vulgate over here whiz bang.
You probably don't realize it, but it's hardly
more than two years since I ordered them.
You keep going at this rate,
you'll give yourself a heart attack.
You go to so much trouble for me
and I never even thank you.
I just needle you. It's mean.
I really am grateful for all the pains
you take for me.
You're wide awake, aren't you?
You're supposed to be asleep, you know that?
Yes, you're supposed to be asleep.
Do you carry hardcover vocal scores
Like Bach's Saint Matthew Passion
or Handel's Messiah?
I could get them at Schirmer's
but they're 50 blocks from me...
so I thought I'd ask you first.
Congratulations on Churchill & Co.!
Hope he loosens up your rations a little.
By the way, is your name Welsh?
I'm going to read to you.
You'll love this.
This is by John Henry Newman.
You'll love it.
"It is a prevalent notion just now
that religious opinion does not enter..."
"as a matter of necessity
in any considerable measure..."
"into the treatment
of scientific or literary subjects."
Helene, we're back!
We are sending you
a little gift for Christmas.
It is linen.
We hope you do not have to pay
any duty on it.
We'll mark it "Christmas gift"
and keep our fingers crossed.
We hope you will like it and accept it
with our best wishes for Christmas...
and the coming year.
Since my name is pronounced
to rhyme with the French word "No?l"...
I think there may be a possibility
it originated in France.
- Isn't it wonderful?
- This is beautiful!
Christmas greetings and all good wishes
for the New Year from:
- Cecily Farr.
- Bill Humphries.
Let me help you with that.
It's much too heavy. Give it to me.
Dear Miss Hanff:
I've wanted to write to thank you
for my family's share in the wonderful...
food parcels you've been sending
to Marks & Co.
Five minutes later we'd have been soaked.
Now I have an excuse. As Frank tells me...
you want the name and address
of the old lady...
who embroidered your cloth.
Her name is Mrs. Boulton and she lives
upstairs at No. 24 Oakfield Court.
She was thrilled to know her cloth
crossed the Atlantic.
She'd be delighted to hear
how much you admired it.
I thought you'd like to see these snaps
of my happy family.
Our eldest girl, Sheila, was 12 last August.
She is my ready-made daughter,
as Frank lost his first wife during the war.
Our youngest, Mary, was 4 last week.
Last May, Sheila announced at school
she was sending Mummy and Daddy...
an anniversary card...
and told the nuns at the convent
that we had been married four years!
It took a bit of explaining,
as you can imagine.
I will close this with all good wishes
for the new year...
and a wish that we may see you
in England one of these days.
Sincerely, Nora Doel.
So, how are you feeling?
Not too bad.
How's the food?
Not too bad.
We had another letter from Miss Hanff.
- Would you like to hear it?
- Yes, please.
"I could rot over here
before you'd send me anything to read."
"I should run to Brentano's, which I would,
if anything I wanted was in print."
"You may add Walton's Lives
to the list of books you aren't sending me."
"It's against my principles
to buy a book I haven't read."
"It's like buying a dress
you haven't tried on."
"You can't even get Walton's Lives
in a library over here."
"You can look at it.
They have it at the 42nd Street branch..."
"but not to take home."
"The lady said to me, shocked, 'Eat it here."
"'Just sit down in room 315
and read the whole book..."
"'...without a cup of coffee,
a cigarette or air.'"
"lt doesn't matter."
"Q quoted enough of it
so I know I'll like it."
"Anything he liked, I'll like,
except if it's fiction."
"I never can get interested in things..."
"that didn't happen
to people who never lived."
"What do you do all day?
Sit in the back of the store and read?"
"Why not try selling a book to somebody?"
"Miss Hanff to you."
Then in brackets she's got:
"I'm Helene only to my friends."
Dear Miss Hanff.
There's a P.S.
"Tell the girls and Nora, if all goes well,
they're getting nylons for Lent."
You must be feeling tired.
Not feeling too bad?
Her show is not going to run.
She's going to be home again shortly.
So I'm going to look on 8th Avenue...
and 51st Street in the theatrical district
to see if I can find a flat.
Oh, she'd love that.
Now listen, Maxine.
I just saw your mother.
She says you don't think
the show will run a month...
and she says you took two dozen
pairs of nylons over there.
So, do me a favor.
As soon as the closing notice goes up,
take three pairs of nylons...
to the bookshop for me
and give them to Frank Doel.
Tell him they're for the two girls
and Nora, his wife.
Your mother says I am not to pay for them
as she got them at the sale at Saks.
She'll donate them to the shop.
She's feeling pro-British.
Ellery raised me to $250 a script.
If it keeps up, I'll go to England
and browse around my bookshop myself.
If I have the nerve.
I write them the most outrageous letters
from a safe 3,000 miles away.
I'd probably walk in there one day...
and walk right out again
without telling them who I am.
Good dog! What a good girl you are!
You're a good girl.
Come on. Let's go home!
We are at a loss to know
how you managed the nylons...
which appeared as if by magic.
When I got back from lunch
they were on my desk with a note:
"From Helene Hanff."
No one seems to know
how or when they arrived.
The girls are thrilled and are planning
to write to you themselves.
I am sorry to say our friend,
Mr. George Martin, who has been so ill...
passed away in hospital last week.
He was with the firm for many years.
So, with that loss,
and the king dying so suddenly as well...
we are a rather mournful crowd
at the moment.
Your Ellery Queen scripts sound rather fun.
I wish we could see them
on our TV over here.
It wants livening up a bit.
Our TV, I mean, not your script.
We're all thrilled
that you'll be coming to London.
Do let us know when, so we can make
the necessary arrangements.
Dear Helene: I am enclosing a few snaps.
Frank says none of them do him justice,
he is much better looking...
but we just let him dream.
Sheila was home on break
and we have been going to the seaside...
for day trips and sightseeing.
Now we must pull in our horns a bit,
as the cost of transport here is terrific.
Sheila is going to say
"a jolly good prayer" for you...
so you may get your wish to come to England.
So if "jolly good prayers" are answered,
you might have a windfall...
and be able to come and see us soon.
Why does it always rain at the seaside?
- Why does it always rain at the seaside?
Why does it rain at the seaside?
To bring the rents down in the hotels.
You've got trouble with three
down on that side...
and one over there.
We'll need to do extensive root canal work.
Then the teeth will have to be capped.
How much will this cost?
A lot. About $2,500.
- That's for everything.
- Oh, God!
I trust you and Nora had a fine holiday.
Mine was spent in Central Park.
I had a month's vacation from Joey,
my dear dentist.
He went on his honeymoon. I financed it.
Did I tell you he told me I had to have
all my teeth capped or all my teeth out?
I had them capped
as I have got used to having teeth.
But the cost is simply astronomical.
So Elizabeth will have to ascend the throne
Teeth are all I'll see crowned
for the next couple of years.
She's not coming.
Helene's not coming to London.
Not for a bit anyway.
As a new chapter in history
begins in Britain...
its world-famous sheets in classic white...
and in six beautiful coronation colors:
Princess Pink, Duchess Yellow, Windsor Rose.
Behind them in procession,
the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom:
Sir Winston Churchill.
The signal is given for a fanfare.
Just to let you know your parcel
arrived safely on June 1...
just in time
for our Coronation Day celebrations.
We had some friends over on the day,
and so the ham was most welcome...
to provide them with something to eat.
It was delicious.
We all drank to your health
as well as the queen's.
It's real ham, you know.
I'll be obliged if you send
Nora and the girls...
to church for the next month to pray for...
the continued health and strength
of the Misters Gilliam, Reese, Snider...
Campanella, Robinson, Hodges, Furillo,
Podres, Newcombe and Labine...
collectively known as the Brooklyn Dodgers.
- I'm a Dodger fan!
- I'm a Yankee fan!
If they lose this World Series,
I'll do myself in.
Then where will you be?
I shall be only too pleased
to root for the Brooklyn Dodgers...
if you will reciprocate
by a few cheers for the Spurs...
the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club
who are at present languishing...
next to the bottom of the League.
However, the season does not finish
until April, so they have time...
to get themselves out of the mess.
Do you have a collection of
essays by George Orwell?
The one I really want is called
lnside the Whale.
I am not sure. Just a moment.
I'll have a look.
We don't have Orwell's essays...
but I do have a nice first edition
of Animal Farm.
I particularly wanted the essays.
- Perhaps we could find them for you.
- I live in the States.
That's no problem.
If you'd like to leave me your address...
I live in Wilmington, Delaware.
How long will it take?
If we find one through our usual contacts,
maybe a couple of weeks.
"Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light."
"The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light."
"I would spread the cloths under your feet."
"But I, being poor, have only my dreams."
"I have spread my dreams under your feet."
"Tread softly because you tread
on my dreams."
- What the hell are you doing?
- I'm minding my own business.
What are you doing?
You can't do that! Put that light back!
- Who says?
- I say, and I live here!
Not for much longer, lady.
The sky fell on us in this cozy brownstone.
We got eviction notices last month.
They're renovating the building.
They decided the time had come for me
to get a real apartment with real furniture.
So shaking all over, I went
to the construction site of a building...
going up on 2nd Avenue and signed a lease...
on a two and a half
that isn't even there yet.
Dear Helene: Prepare yourself for a shock.
All three books that you last requested
in your last letter...
are on their way to you
and should arrive in a week.
Don't ask how we managed it,
it's just part of the Marks' service.
Times Square is jammed
with jubilant New Yorkers...
and visitors celebrating the New Year.
The bright lights of Broadway shining on
nearly a million festive folks.
The sign of the times.
Happy New Year!
Sunday night and a hell of a way
to start 1960.
I don't know.
Somebody gave me this book for Christmas.
A Great Modern Library book.
Ever seen one of those?
It's less attractively bound...
than the Proceedings
of the New York State Assembly...
and weighs more.
It was a given to me by a gent
who knows I'm fond of John Donne.
The title of this book is:
The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose
of John Donne...
and the Complete Poetry of William Blake?
The question mark is mine.
Please tell me what those two boys...
have in common except
they were both English...
and they both wrote.
"When, as a boy, William Blake saw
the prophet Ezekiel under a tree..."
"amid a summer field,
he was soundly trounced by his mother."
I'm with his mother.
I mean, the back of the Lord God,
the face of the Virgin Mary, all right.
But why the hell would anybody
want to see the prophet Ezekiel?
But the crucial word in all that
The Selected Prose of John Donne!
Here I was, in my armchair,
so at peace with the whole world...
something old and serene on the radio.
Corelli or somebody,
and this thing on the table.
This Giant Modern Library thing.
So I thought:
"I will read one of the sermons aloud."
You have to read Donne aloud.
It's like a Bach fugue.
"All mankind is one volume."
"When one man dies,
one chapter is not torn out of the book..."
"but translated into a better language."
"And every chapter must be so translated."
"God employs several translators."
"Some pieces are translated by age,
some by sickness..."
"some by war..."
"some by justice."
"But God's hand shall bind up
all our scattered leaves again..."
"for that library..."
"where every book shall lie
open to one another."
Dizzy with Donne.
I craved for more, but the closet was bare.
Selected prose, remember?
Break it to me gently.
How hard will it be to find
the great man's complete sermons...
and how much will it cost?
You know, Frankie,
you're the only soul who understands me.
Some time ago,
you asked for a modern version...
of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
I came across a little volume
which I thought you would like.
It is not complete by any means,
but as it is quite a cheap book...
and seems to be a fairly scholarly job,
I am sending it along by book post today.
It looks very nice.
We are all well and jogging along as usual.
My eldest daughter, Sheila, 24,
suddenly decided to be a teacher...
so threw up her secretarial job
two years ago to go to college.
She has another year to go, so it will be
a long time before our children...
will be able to keep us in luxury.
Love from all here, Frank.
Very nice. Very tasty.
It's been 12 years
since I was in London with that play.
- I don't believe it.
- It's more than 12 years. Lt was...
That's enough Chaucer-made-easy.
It has the schoolroom smell of
Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare.
I'm glad I read it.
I liked reading about the nun
who ate so dainty with her fingers...
she never dripped any grease on herself.
I could never make that claim.
Wasn't anything else intrigued me much,
it's just stories.
If Chaucer had kept a diary,
telling what it was like to be a clerk...
in the palace of Richard lll,
that I'd learn Old English for.
"The reader will not credit
that such things could be..."
Walton says somewhere or other...
"but I was there and I saw it."
That's for me.
I'm a great lover of "I was there" books.
- It was a rotten play.
- I thought you liked it.
I hated it.
You should be grateful.
That play took you to London.
Remember how jealous I was?
Dear Helene: Good to hear from you again.
We're still here,
getting older and busier, but no richer.
We had a pleasant summer
with more tourists than usual...
including hordes of young people
making the pilgrimage to Carnaby Street.
We watch it all from a safe distance.
Though I must say,
I rather like The Beatles.
If the fans just wouldn't scream so.
We have not heard
from Cecily Farr for some years now.
Megan Wells had enough of South Africa
after a short time, and stopped in...
to let us say, "I told you so,"
before trying her luck in Australia.
Will you lock up?
We had a Christmas card from her
a few years ago...
but nothing recently.
Nora and the girls join me in sending love.
You still there?
Still alive, are we?
I swore I wouldn't write until I found work.
Sold a story to Harper's magazine.
Slaved over it three weeks.
They paid me $200 for it.
Now they've got me writing a story
of my life in a book.
How about you, Frank?
Yes. We're all very much alive
though rather exhausted
after a hectic summer.
I introduced a young friend
to Pride and Prejudice one rainy Sunday.
She's gone crazy for Jane Austen.
She has a birthday around Halloween.
Can you find me some Austen for her?
I know you can.
There's no hope of finding any Jane Austen
in time for your friend's birthday.
We've had hordes of tourists
from the U.S.A...
France, Scandinavia, etc.,
all buying our nice, leather-bound books.
So our stock is a sorry sight at the moment.
But perhaps we can find them for Christmas.
Are you a grandfather yet?
Tell Sheila and Mary that children
are entitled to presentation copies...
of my Collected Juvenile Works.
That should make them rush out
Best to Nora and anybody else around.
Nora and the girls are fine.
Sheila is teaching.
Mary is engaged to a very nice boy.
But there is little hope of marriage
for the time being...
as neither has any money!
So Nora's hopes of being
a glamorous grandmother...
are receding fast.
There are hundreds of plainclothesmen
in our midst.
Many of them are under orders
to beat up the leaders.
This is clearly a political...
activity, a political action on the part
of the Administration.
They won't get amnesty.
I think there's going to be a solution,
so I don't think it will go on.
- What's going on?
- Back on the other side of the cordon, lady.
- I asked you a civil question.
- No demonstrations allowed on campus.
- Who says?
- Lady, aren't you too old to be doing this?
Go home and bake an apple pie.
You go home and bake an apple pie
All right, lady. Make yourself happy.
You get right in here with your friends.
I want to say something. Don't go away!
Wait a minute. I want to say something.
There'll be no easy solution to the student
sit-in on the Columbia campus.
We want to point out that black students
occupy this building.
We are going into Harlem
and bolster support there.
So if Columbia doesn't want to deal
with the brothers here...
they'll deal with them on the street.
Why are you here today?
We're not concerned
with the sit-ins themselves or the arrests.
We don't think there's
any civil liberties issues...
involved in arresting people...
after they've occupied buildings
on an illegal basis.
January 8, 1969. Dear Miss:
I have just come across the letter
you wrote Mr. Doel last September 30.
It is with great regret I tell you...
that he passed away on Sunday, December 22.
The funeral took place last week
on Wednesday, January 1.
He was rushed to hospital December 15,
and operated on for a ruptured appendix.
Unfortunately, peritonitis set in
and he died seven days later.
He had been with the firm over 40 years.
Naturally, it has come as a great shock
to Mr. Cohen...
particularly coming so soon
after the death of Mr. Marks.
Do you still wish us to obtain
the books you asked for?
Yours faithfully, P.P. Marks & Co.
Joan Todd (Mrs.), Secretary.
Thank you for your very kind letter.
Nothing about it at all offends me.
I only wish that you had met Frank
and known him personally.
He was the most well-adjusted person
with a marvelous sense of humor.
And now, I realize, such a modest person...
as I've had letters from all over
to pay him tribute.
And so many people in the book trade say
he was so knowledgeable...
and imparted his knowledge
with kindness to all and sundry.
If you wish, I could send them to you.
At times, I don't mind telling you,
I was very jealous of you...
as Frank so enjoyed your letters...
and they, or some,
were so like his sense of humor.
Also, I envied your writing ability.
Frank and I were so very much opposites.
He so kind and gentle...
and me with my lrish background
always fighting for my rights.
I miss him so.
Life was so interesting.
He, always explaining and trying
to teach me something of books.
My girls are wonderful,
and in this I am lucky.
I suppose so many like me are all alone.
Please excuse my scrawl.
With love, Nora.
Dear Kay and Brian:
I take time out from cleaning
my bookshelves and sitting on the rug...
surrounded by books everywhere.
I wish you a bon voyage.
I hope you and Brian have a ball in London.
Maybe it's just as well I never got there.
I dreamed about it for so many years.
I used to go to English movies
just to look at the streets.
Years ago, a guy I knew told me
that people going to England find...
exactly what they're looking for.
I said I'd go looking for
the England of English literature.
He nodded and said, "It's there."
Maybe it is and maybe it isn't.
Looking around the rug,
one thing's for sure.
The blessed man who sold me all my books
died a few months ago.
And Mr. Marks
who owned the shop is dead.
But Marks & Co. Is still there...
though there's some talk
that it might be demolished, God forbid!
If you happen to pass
by 84 Charing Cross Road...
kiss it for me!
I owe it so much.
I have a brochure from a long time ago
for trips to London.
I know they don't cost $359 anymore, but...
could you let me know what would it cost?
Here I am, Frankie. I finally made it.