84 CHARING CROSS
84 Charing Cross is a play adapted for stage by Theatre Nisha from the book by Helene Hanff.
Published in 1970, the book is about the correspondence between the author and a London bookseller, Frank Doel. The pursuit of classic literature resulted in inquiries in the form of missives shared between Helene and Frank. 84 Charing Cross Road spans a twenty-year period and chronicles the long-distance friendship, not only between the two, but between Hanff and other staff members as well, with an exchange of Christmas packages, birthday gifts, and food parcels to compensate for post-World War II food shortages in Britain. Their letters included discussions about topics as diverse as the sermons of John Donne, how to make Yorkshire Pudding, the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the coronation of Elizabeth II.
Helene Hanff (1916–1997) was an American writer. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she is best known as the author of the book 84 Charing Cross Road, which became the basis for a play, teleplay, and film of the same name.
Her career, which saw her move from writing unproduced plays to helping create some of the earliest television dramas to becoming a kind of professional New Yorker, goes far beyond the charm of that one book. She called her 1961 memoir, Underfoot in Show Business, and it chronicled the struggle of an ambitious young playwright to make it in the world of New York theatre in the 1940s and 1950s. She worked in publicists' offices and spent summers on the "straw hat" circuit along the East Coast of the United States, writing plays that were admired by some of Broadway's leading producers but which somehow never saw the light of day.
She wrote and edited scripts for a variety of early television dramas produced out of New York, all the while continuing to try and move from being what she called "one of the 999 out of 1,000 who don't become Noel Coward." When the bulk of television production moved to California, her work slowly dried up, and she turned to writing for magazines and, eventually, to the books that made her reputation.