84, Charing Cross Road ‘a kind of magic’


New York, 1949. Helène Hanff, a struggling scriptwriter with an antiquarian taste in books, writes to booksellers Marks and Co at 84 Charing Cross Road with her shopping list – and that starts 20 years of real-life correspondence between Helène, the bookshop manager Frank Doel and members of his staff.

Among business dealings they share events in their lives and form close friendships. There’s the ups and downs of Helène’s career, her food parcels to Marks and Co during rationing, the Coronation, the Beatles - and various personal joys and sadnesses.

“Most of the books I bought were probably available in New York”, says Helène, “But I wanted a link with London - and I managed it.”

Do the correspondents meet? There’s only one way to find out and that’s to attend one of Bexhill Amateur Dramatic Society’s performances of 84, Charing Cross Road, later this month.

“People who know this play always use the word ‘lovely’ when speaking of it.” Said Director Peter Bradbury. “There’s a kind of magic to it. I’ve been lucky to secure a strong cast and we’re enjoying working hard to bring that magic to the stage.”

Tickets at the door £10 or £8 for under-18s; if purchased in advance there’s a £1 discount. Tickets and information: www.the-bats.co.uk, Destination, Sackville Road or Bestsellers, St Leonards Road.