Marriage & family life
He married Winifred Joyce Hancock in Salisbury in 1943, the only daughter of a military man who had been a regular soldier in India before working for the Post Office. Once Eric was demobilised, he abandoned a career in the theatre; he told me Winifred wanted more security but Winifred always maintained he had lost his nerve. His CO wanted him to stay on in the army but he chose to take a six-month course in teaching. He initially worked for the Geffrye Museum (history of the working home from the 16th century) where he was in charge of Victorian Christmas cards, but he crossed swords with the curator. He was invited to work for the City Literary Institute where he became involved in evening work training young people in acting in schools around Camden; his best known student was the West Indian actor, Rudolph Walker. During the day he taught religious education at Sir William Collins School in Camden where he was a head of year. One of his former pupils recalled him "fondly as a very kindly well meaning man" who often discussed religion in assembly, who directed 'My Fair Lady' and 'Toad of Toad Hall' and who described the hooligan element at Sir William Collins School as "guttersnipes" (click here to read more). For a while Eric helped with the Distillers Company Drama Group in London, producing plays that, although amateur, were very well received. My mother made some costumes for his productions. With all the extra work Eric took on he often did not get home until late in the evening.
He and Winifred had two sons. The eldest, Peter Vaughn Wynn-Owen was born on 1 December 1945. Winifred wrongly wrote 'Wynn-Owen' on marriage and birth certificates – both Ruth and Eric used the surname Wynn-Owen professionally – and thus the family Christian name of Wynn became incorporated in the surname. They lived in Reginald’s house "Yeoveney", 35 Alexandra Road, almost all their married life and stayed there after his death. It was a lovely, three-storey house and on the middle floor there was a small kitchen. Eric’s step-mother Lily Mabel lived there after Reginald’s death in 1952 and until her death in 1972. She also had a bedroom and sitting-room on that floor. She shared this accommodation with her spinster sister Ethel for many years. Lily Mabel could be very sweet but she could also be extremely difficult which was very upsetting for Winifred. My mother visited Lily often and got on well with her but was aware of this other side to her character.