Thursday, April 19, 2007

Q's Legacy

Helene Hanff discovered Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch at the Philadelphia Public Library when she was 18. When she ran out of money and had to leave college, she took her education into her own hands.

She was impressed with his credentials and the simplicity and clarity of his writing. Reading ON THE ART OF WRITING, she says, "In the first chapter he threw so many marvelous quotes at me ... from Walton's ANGLER and Newman's IDEA OF THE UNIVERSITY and Milton's PARADISE LOST ... that I rushed back to the library and brought home all three, determined to read them before going on to Q's second lecture." And so it went. From PARADISE LOST to the New Testament to ... ad infinitum.

When Q died, she felt as though she'd lost a friend. And sets out to buy the books he taught her to love. In the Out-of-Print books column of the Saturday Review, she found an ad: "Marks & Co., Antiquarian Bookseller, 84 Charing Cross Road, London." And so began her long correspondence and friendship with Frank Doel and the staff at Marks & Co.


StuckInABook said...

Definitely on my to-be-read pile now, looks irresistible. And so glad you liked Provincial Lady - but had no real doubts that you would! And now you're making me want to go for a re-read... but must be strong and revise instead.

dovegreyreader said...

Lovely blog Janice and would love to put a link from mine if that's OK?
84 CCR is a book that passed me by for years and then I finally bought it in Foyle's when I was in London for the day and read it on the train journey back to Devon.My dad was so horrified I hadn't read what turned out to be one of my mum's favourites or seen the film that he instantly sent for the DVD for me too.

Beth said...

I read 84 CCR last night on the subway going from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back. I had to keep from weeping by biting my lip hard and digging my fingernails into my skin.

I'm originally from Philadlephia and I can't wait to get a hold of Q's legacy now.

Your blog is sensitive and well worth reading.



Janice said...

Hi Beth
thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment ... I can't get past your profile, so I'm writing here and hope you find it.

I guess Helene Hanff is my favorite writer, and I've read all her books. Have you seen the movie 84 Charing Cross Road with Anne Bancroft and Anthony Perkins and Judi Dench (before she was Dame Judi)? You can probably find the DVD somewhere. Q's Legacy was very hard to find. I had to order it in from somewhere, but now I can't remember where.

Beth, how did you find your way here? Do you have a blog where I could write to you?