Lennon's doodles, drawings and nonsense poems to be sold in New York

LONDON Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:52pm IST

A member of Sotheby's staff looks at an illustration by John Lennon entitled 'Vote Here' at Sotheby's, London March 21, 2014. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

A member of Sotheby's staff looks at an illustration by John Lennon entitled 'Vote Here' at Sotheby's, London March 21, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Paul Hackett

Stocks

   

LONDON (Reuters) - 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 on Friday.

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 (BID.N) said.

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One of the unpublished typescripts contains a reference to the record-breaking British band's first single "Love Me Do", released in 1962.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.

(Reporting by Julia Fioretti)

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Exit Polls

Exit Polls

BJP unlikely to form Jammu & Kashmir govt - polls.  Full Article 

Forceful Conversions

Forceful Conversions

BJP distances itself from religious conversions.  Full Article 

Photo

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Economic Pulse

Economic Pulse

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

Down Under

Down Under

Magic Johnson inspires Australia to second test win.  Full Article 

Going International

Going International

Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra sets sights on American TV.  Full Article 

India This Week

India This Week

Some of our best photos from this week.   Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage