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Eleanor Marian Dundas Allen (born 18 January 1892 – 12 September 1953) was a British writer, the author of the poem now known as "The Wind on the Downs" published in a small 63-page book of poems of the same name. Allen was born at Toxteth Park (now St Scholastica's School), Glebe, Sydney, Australia, the daughter of George Boyce Allen, a barrister, and Isabella Dundas Allen.
By 1908, the parents of Marian Allen with their family of six children (three boys and three girls) were living in Woodstock Road, Oxford, England. It was here in 1913–14 that Marian first met Arthur Tylston Greg, whom she was to have married and to whom, under the initials A. T. G. her book of poems was dedicated. Like Marian Allen's brother, George Dundas Allen, Arthur Greg was studying Law at New College, Oxford and it seems likely that they first met when Arthur Greg visited his fellow student's house. Marian and Arthur's steps on the towpath walk can be retraced walking from Woodstock Road along Leckford Road, Longworth Road, and Walton Well Road. The meadow is still there as is a very old wooden gate hitch could quite possibly be the one mentioned in the poem.
In August 1914, on the outbreak of World War I, Arthur Greg and Dundas (as Marian Allen's brother was known) abandoned their studies and joined the army. Arthur fought in the battles around the Hill 60 in Belgium and in May 1915 was badly wounded when part of his lower jaw was shot away. By 1916, Dundas Allen had joined the Royal Flying Corps and was awarded the Military Cross. It was probably because of this that Arthur Greg too joined the Royal Flying Corps where, as Captain Greg, he trained to fly the D.H.4 bomber.
On Wednesday 4 April 1917, Marian Allen and Arthur Greg said goodbye for the last time as Arthur Greg left Charing Cross for Boulogne to join 55th Squadron. He was shot down over St Quentin on St George's Day, 1917. He is buried at Jussy cemetery with the words, "love is stronger than death". Marian Allen heard the tragic news on either 30 April or 1 May, and some of her finest poems, many of them sonnets, were written almost immediately afterward. "To A. T. G." was finished on 2 May, and "I like to think of you..." on 10 May. It seems that, grief-stricken, she was not so much writing poems as continuing her letters to Arthur.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Marian Allen became a successful author/illustrator of children's books such as The Wind in the Chimney, Joy Street volumes etc., writing mainly for Blackwell. She also designed the dust wrappers for numbers 5 to 11 of the Joy Street volumes. During much of this time she was living in London with her family at 35 Harrington Gardens (now the London base of Ithaca College). She always treasured the ticket (number 7935) which Arthur Greg used to leave Charing Cross for Boulogne.
Later in life, she returned to Woodstock Road in Oxford where she died unmarried on 12 September 1953.
"But when the road is passed, the hilltop won,
We'll tell each other everything we've done."
- NSW Registry of Births: 1892/013443, New South Wales, Australia.
- GRO Registry of Deaths, UK.[year missing]
- "Marian Allen". All Poetry. Retrieved June 8, 2012.
- A. L. Humphreys, The Wind on the Downs, 1918.
- Oxford Electoral Roll.[full citation needed]
- Crookenden (2006), History of the Cheshire Regiment in The Great War, pages 37–48, ISBN 184734500X
- Supplement to the London Gazette, 3 June 1916.
- Photograph, Flickr.