Sir John Betjeman

(6200 words)

In 2006 England celebrated the centenary of Sir John Betjeman, the late Poet Laureate, (1906-84 ). At birth, Betjeman was registered John Betjemann, the German spelling, albeit he always claimed that the family was of Dutch descent and insisted on one “n”, and his life was to reveal a lifelong aspiration to be accepted as a member of the British Establishment and an appreciation for all things English. Born into the solid comfort of the Edwardian era, Betjeman was a schoolboy during the Great War of 1914-18, not a good time to carry a German-sounding name in an English playground:

Betjeman’s a German spy—
Shoot him down and let him die:
Betjeman’s a German spy,
A German spy, A German spy.

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Early, Patrick. "Sir John Betjeman". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 07 November 2006
[, accessed 07 July 2015.]