A manuscript written by John Lennon entitled 'Henry and Harry'. REUTERS/Paul Hackett
The largest private collection of nonsense poems, doodles and
comic drawings by the Beatles singer John Lennon will be sold
in New York in June, auctioneer Sotheby's said.
Ranging from gibberish descriptions of Lennon's native city
Liverpool, in northern England, to a drawing of a "National
Health Cow" in an apparent jab at Britain's national health
service, the collection reveals a lesser known side of the
celebrated British singer, who was shot dead in 1980.
The drawings and original manuscripts are part of the
collection of publisher Tom Maschler, creator of the
prestigious literary award the Booker Prize, who published
them in two books, "In His Own Write" (1964), and "A Spaniard
in the Works" (1965).
The collection, named "You Might Well Arsk", has a pre-sale
estimate of around 800,000 dollars over 89 lots, Sotheby's
The sale coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Beatles'
first appearance in America on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964.
Watched by 73 million Americans, it shot the band to stardom.
The drawings and poems all date back to the early 1960s at
the height of 'Beatlemania', Sotheby's said.
One of the unpublished typescripts contains a reference to
the record-breaking British band's first single "Love Me Do",
released in 1962.
"The Beatles (a band) hab jud make a regord ... a song they
whripe themselves called 'Lub Me Jew'", Lennon wrote in his
characteristic gibberish style.
"It's very much like Lewis Carroll. 'Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland' and 'Through the Looking Glass' were two of
Lennon's favourite books from childhood and he read them on a
yearly basis," said Philip Errington, director of printed
books and manuscripts at Sotheby's.
"It is gibberish, it is gobbledygook, and yet it's funny,
it's humorous verse."
Not everyone was as convinced of their literary value. In a
parliamentary debate in 1964, a Conservative politician,
Charles Curran, used Lennon's nonsense verse to attack
Britain's education standards.
"He (Lennon) is in a state of pathetic near-literacy," Curran
said. "He seems to have picked up bits of Tennyson, Browning
and Robert Louis Stevenson while listening with one ear to
the football results on the wireless."
Maschler tracked Lennon down at a concert after coming across
the drawings and writings in 1962 and convinced him to make a
book out of them.
The New York sale will take place on June 4.