The Lily Saga

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Helene Hanff, wrote "84 Charing Cross Road". The answer came on a postcard:


Well, that's the damndest question I've ever been asked. I have not got the SLIGHTEST idea why lilies connote death.

But I've decided the Victorians did it. They didn't mean death to Shakespeare - so I think maybe Rosetti's Blessed Damozel did it, with 3 lilies in her hand. You can't get to join her till you die, right?

But if I were six, I wouldn't believe a word of it, even if I should know who the Blessed Damozel was.

Aren't you glad you wrote to me?

Helene Hanff.


Dear Miss Hanff,

Thank you very much for your card and thoughts about lilies; they were, in fact, the most plausible that I received.

So yes, I am glad I wrote to you.

The damndest question you've been asked, you say? Well, I guessed that you were sick of people writing and asking if you could recommend a good bookshop.

Well...the lilies have become something of a quest. The responses do make enjoyable reading and it makes a nice change to my normal loopy letters.


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