W. H. Auden and Solihull

Wystan Hugh Auden was born in York on 21st February 1907 and was the youngest of the three sons of parents Dr George Augustus Auden (1872-1957) and his wife, Constance Rosalie (née Bicknell) (1869-1941), who was a trained missionary nurse, although she did not practise. Dr Auden apparently named his son for St Wystan, having being fascinated by the Parish Church of St Wystan whilst living in Repton, Derbyshire.

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A 1930s marriage of convenience

On 20th May 1936, what we would now call a sham marriage, or a marriage of convenience, took place at the office of Solihull’s Superintendent Registrar, which was then situated above shops on the corner of Warwick Road and Poplar Road in Solihull.

The groom was a gay writer living in Dorridge and the bride was a German-Jewish actress. The reason for the marriage was simply to enable the bride to obtain British citizenship. The couple hadn’t met each other before their wedding day and couldn’t actually speak the same language. They remained married for the rest of their lives although they never lived together.

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