Helene Hanff Appreciation Week: The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street
Helene Hanff Appreciation Week: Just Helene

Helene Hanff Appreciation Week: Queen of England

Before she became quite well-known for writing 84, Charing Cross Road, Hanff worked as a script reader and childrens' book author. Now, I can't say that her book for kids, Queen of England: The Story of Elizabeth I, was her favorite book of mine. For one thing, it was published in 1969, and it' was published by Doubleday, and all those educational kids books from the 50s and 60s share a quaintly dated feel.

But I still enjoyed it, and I read the whole thing. For one thing, the way she talked about her in other books, I think Hanff had a real love and appreciation for Elizabeth I, and I can respect that, because I do think Elizabeth I was a singular woman:

"On the morning of Palm Sunday--a chill, rainy March morning--Elizabeth was taken by boat across the river to the Tower of London. She stepped on shore, and saw stone steps leading up to an iron gate called Traitors' Gate. She stopped in her tracks.

She cried out that she would not go through Traitors' Gate. She was not a traitor. She was true and loyal to the queen...

The guards made her climb the stone steps. At the top step, she stopped again. She sat down on the wet stone step and said she would go no farther. She would not go into the Tower--too few left it alive.

A few friends had come this far with her. They now had to say good-by, and one man broke down and began to weep. At this, Elizabeth rose to her feet. She told the man to stop weeping.

'My truth is such,' she said, 'that I thank God my friends have no cause to weep for me.'"