84 Charing Cross Road – Melbourne Rare Book Week approaches

84 Charing Cross Road, David Jones (1987)

Going back in time, this classic, multi-BAFTA award-winning film, based on a true story, reminds us that sending parcels half way around the globe was not invented by the age of online-shopping. It is about loving old books and the people who sell and collect them.

Being unable to find rare and collectible books in New York, a sassy Helene Hanff (Anne Bancroft), writes letters all the way to Marks & Co bookshop in London where Frank Doel (Anthony Hopkins) and his fellow staff work.  Their correspondence ranges widely about books but also progresses to gifts for the manager and his colleagues.  Not only are the great and rare gems of literature noted and discussed, but the story takes one through the realities of post-WW2 London where food such as eggs were rarer than old books. Judy Dench makes brief appearances as Frank’s wife, Nora. In a poignant twist, despite communicating from 1949 – 1976, the book lovers never met, Helene only visiting the closed shop in 1971. And what is a classic film without classical music?  Rach 2 and Handel’s Messiah provide a fitting background. This is the total package.

This is a fitting review to introduce Melbourne’s Rare Book Week. I went along to several sessions in 2016, and can highly recommend it. The week culminates in the ANZAAB Melbourne Rare Book Fair, now in its sixth year.  If you enjoy walking amongst limited edition prints, leather bound books and antiquities of the paper variety, you’ll be in book-nerd heaven here. And its ALL FREE!

Melbourne Rare Book Week 30th June – 9th July PROGRAM

45th ANZAAB Australian Antiquarian Book Fair (Melbourne Rare Book Fair) – 7th – 9th July at University of Melbourne’s Wilson Hall.

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