84 Charing Cross Road (November 20-29, 2014)

In 1949, when Helene Hanff was a struggling and unsuccessful author, she started to write to Marks and Co., a London bookshop, inquiring about editions of the obscure classics and English literature she loved. Her book, 84 Charing Cross Road, first published in 1970, chronicles her twenty years of correspondence with Frank Doel, the manager of the shop. As time passed, she became intimately involved in the lives of the shop’s staff, sending them food parcels during Britain’s postwar shortages and sharing with them details of her life in Manhattan. Due mainly to financial difficulties, she put off visiting her English friends until too late; Frank Doel died in December 1968, and the bookshop eventually closed. Hanff did finally visit Charing Cross Road and the empty but still standing shop in the summer of 1971, a trip recorded in her 1973 book The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. The 1983 play based on her letters was a great success in both London and on Broadway. Writing in the New York Daily News, Liz Smith said, “84 Charing Cross Road is a play I loved… This is really unusual theatre that will touch the heart.” We hope it will touch the hearts of our audiences, too.