THE MARRIAGE BUREAU – Penrose Halson
London – 1939 to 1949
It is 1939 England, and most women dream of the perfect marriage. Few want a career, and most parents expect their sons to be educated and find jobs, and their daughters to find a husband. But for Audrey Parsons, a farmer's daughter, finding a mate wasn't working out well. After sailing to India to wed a young man who worked for her uncle, Audrey discovers that her intended is not at all what she wants in a husband. So back to England she goes, much to her parents' dismay, with a little idea her uncle gave her. There are many more English men in India than there are eligible English girls. Why not open a matchmaking business to supply these young men with good wives? After failing at several jobs, Audrey approaches a new friend to discuss the idea.
Heather Jenner, of similar background to Audrey, is divorced and rudderless at twenty-four years of age. When Audrey proposes to open a matchmaking business, Heather is, at first, reluctant. But eventually she sees the need of providing help to the young men who are only in their native country long enough to find a wife. Why not help them find the perfect partner? So The Marriage Bureau is born. Setting up in a tiny office, Audrey—now calling herself Mary—and Heather put an ad in the local paper.
With the onset of war, the tiny business becomes a center for uniformed men who want to have someone to come back to, but it also begins to attract men and women from all over the world. Suffice it to say, The Marriage Bureau is a surprising success.
This is the true story of two young women who organize and run a matchmaking company at a time when love and security were important to both men and women. Using the archival works left by Audrey and Heather, the author, who eventually ended up running The Marriage Bureau, tells the many stories of the diverse population who successfully, and some unsuccessfully, visited the busy, meticulously run office. There are some humorous tales and some poignant ones, for it's an uncertain time in Britain.
Beautifully presented, THE MARRIAGE BUREAU is indeed “ The True Story of How Two Matchmakers Arranged Love in Wartime London”. Don't miss this fascinating narrative.
The television company that produced Downton Abbey has The Marriage Bureau in development for a future series.