Please 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 on the step Elizabeth sat on when she refused to enter the Tower, and like that. A newspaper man I know, who was stationed in London during the war, says tourists go to England with preconceived notions, so they always 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 Katherine -
I take time out from housecleaning my bookshelves and sitting on the rug surrounded by books in every direction to scrawl you a Bon Voyage. I hope you and Brian have a ball in London. He said to me on the phone: "Would you go with us if you had the fare?" and I nearly wept.
But I don't know, 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. I remember years ago a guy I knew told me that people going to England find exactly what they go looking for. I said I'd go looking for the England of English Literature, and he nodded and said: "It's there."
Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't. Looking around the rug one thing's for sure: it's here.
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. If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me! I owe it so much.
... 84 Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff