Ladies of Letters: 84, Charing Cross Road & The Real Mrs Miniver

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In 84, Charing Cross Road and The Real Mrs Miniver & Helene Hanff and Jan Struther’s granddaugher Ysenda wield their pens under rather different circumstances, but both are masters of their craft.

Ysenda Maxtone Graham, The Real Mrs Miniver

The exemplary middle-class housewife Mrs Miniver, whose doings first appeared on the Court pages of The Times, was said by Winston Churchill to have done more for the Allied cause in the Second World War than a flotilla of battleships. Everyone assumed that Mrs Miniver was a portrait of her creator, Jan Struther, but the reality was very different. (Slightly Foxed Edition no. 21 • 320 pages • RRP £17.50)

Helene Hanff, 84, Charing Cross Road

In the drab and traumatized post-war London of 1949, Marks & Co., second-hand and antiquarian booksellers at 84, Charing Cross Road, received an enquiry from ‘a poor writer with an antiquarian taste in books’, a Miss Helene Hanff of New York City. It was the beginning of a correspondence that would last for twenty years and the result is this gloriously heart-warming account of a friendship conducted through letters. (Slightly Foxed Edition no. 32 • 240 pages • RRP £17.50)

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