Here, we take a look through the various volumes of John Lennon’s library.
John Lennon once revealed in an interview, a conversation recorded in 1980, that his family in Liverpool weren’t necessarily equipped to fulfil the notions of the poetic John. “It was scary as a child, because there was nobody to relate to,” he would comment.
“Neither my auntie nor my friends nor anybody could ever see what I did,” he added. “It was very, very scary and the only contact I had was reading about an Oscar Wilde or a Dylan Thomas or a Vincent van Gogh – all those books that my auntie had that talked about their suffering because of their visions. Because of what they saw, they were tortured by society for trying to express what they were.” It was a frightful piece of foreshadowing.
Lennon himself was an inspiring and engaging author in his own right. John decided to pursue another avenue of artistic prowess alongside his growing Beatles fame and write some interesting literature.
His first work, The Daily Howl, was brimming with comics and caricatures, poetry and prose, and was largely shared among high school chums. His work In His Own Write in 1964, was filled with nonsensical prose and wordplay, all of which seemed to fit in with the singer’s style. It sold so well he received another book deal just a year later.
Despite the success, writing books wasn’t something Lennon had originally bargained on. “There was never any real thought of writing a book,” he later said. “It was something that snowballed. If I hadn’t been a Beatle I wouldn’t have thought of having the stuff published; I would have been crawling around broke and just writing it and throwing it away. I might have been a Beat poet!”
Below is a list of these works and writers which across interviews and snippets of conversations Lennon has either been involved with or loved deeply.
Ronald Searle (illustrations)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Curiosities of Natural History by Francis T. Buckland
Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll
Just William by Richmal Crompton
Howl by Allen Ginsberg
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce
On The Road by Jack Kerouac
The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary
Grapefruit by Yoko Ono
1984 by George Orwell
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Complete Tales and Poems by Edgar Allen Poe
Born Under a Bad Sign by Tony Palmer & Ralph Steadman
Forty-One Years In India by Field Marshal Lord Roberts
Major Works by Jonathan Swift
Major Works by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Under Milkwood by Dylan Thomas
I Am Also a You by Jay Thompson
Writings and Drawings by James Thurber
Complete Works by Oscar Wilde