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The Marriage Bureau

True Stories of 1940s London Match-Makers


About the Book

In the spring of 1939, with the Second World War looming, two determined twenty-four-year-olds, Heather Jenner and Mary Oliver, decided to open a marriage bureau. They found a tiny office on London’s Bond Street and set about the delicate business of matchmaking. Drawing on the bureau’s extensive archives, Penrose Halson—who many years later found herself the proprietor of the bureau—tells their story, and those of their clients. We meet a remarkable cross-section of British society in the 1940s: gents with a “merry twinkle,” potential fifth-columnists, nervous spinsters, isolated farmers seeking “a nice quiet affekshunate girl” and girls looking “exactly” like Greta Garbo and Vivien Leigh, all desperately longing to find The One. And thanks to Heather and Mary, they almost always did just that.

A riveting glimpse of life and love during and after the war, The Marriage Bureau is a heart-warming, touching and thoroughly absorbing account of a world gone by.

The Marriage Bureau is in development for TV with Carnival Film and Television Ltd, who produced Downton Abbey.

Educator and Librarian Resources

Critical Praise

“A book full of charm and hilarity.” —Country Life

“This is a fascinating account of true stories from a 1940s marriage bureau started by two young and enterprising women: brigadier’s daughter Heather Jenner and farmer’s daughter Mary Oliver . . . The stories of the clients are riveting, but so too are those of the staff.” —The Lady

“The book is a period piece in some ways but, away from the different clothes and customs, it has a contemporary ring because fundamentally, people don’t change. Be it 1946 or 2016, we still worry about money, ailing parents, loneliness and finding someone to love.” —Daily Mail

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9781443451420
  • ISBN 10: 1443451428
  • Imprint: HarperCollins Publishers
  • On Sale: 04/18/2017
  • Pages: 368
  • List Price: 22.99 CAD
  • BISAC2: SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Marriage & Family
  • BISAC3: FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Marriage & Long Term Relationships

The Marriage Bureau by Penrose Halson

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