The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street (Paperback)

The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street By Helene Hanff Cover Image

The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street (Paperback)

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“A charmer. Will beguile an hour of your time and put you in touch with mankind.” —New York Times

Newly reissued with an introduction by Plum Sykes, this cult favorite is a delightful diary—think Nancy MitfordmeetsNora Ephron—chronicling author Helene Hanff’s “bucket list” trip to London (at the age of fifty-five!) after the unexpected success of her memoir 84 Charing Cross Road. 

When she’s invited to London for the English publication of her wildly successful book, 84 Charing Cross Road—in which she shares two decades of correspondence with Frank Doel, a British bookseller who became a dear friend—New York writer Helene Hanff is thrilled to realize a lifelong dream. The trip will be bittersweet, because she can’t help wishing Frank was still alive, but she’s determined to capture every moment of the journey.

Helene’s time in London exceeds her wildest expectations. She visits landmarks like Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle; explores Shakespeare’s favorite pub, Dickens’s house, and the Oxford University courtyard where John Donne used to walk; and makes a host of new friends from all walks of life, who take her to the theater, introduce her to institutions like Harrod’s, and share with her their favorite corners of countryside.

A love letter to England and its literary heritage, written by a Manhattanite who isn’t afraid to speak her mind (or tell a British barman how to make a real American martini), The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street is an endearing account of two wildly different worlds colliding; it’s an outsider’s witty, vibrant portrait of idiosyncratic British culture at its best, as well as a profound commentary about the written word’s power to sustain us, transport us, and unite us.

Born in Philadelphia in 1916, Helene Hanffspent much of her life as a struggling screenwriter in New York City. But it was her 1970 memoir, 84, Charing Cross Road, that propelled her to fame and made possible the trip to London that inspired The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. She never married, and died in New York in 1997.

“A charmer. Will beguile an hour of your time and put you in touch with mankind.” — New York Times