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"
The collection, named "You Might Well Arsk", has a pre-sale
estimate of around 800,000 dollars over 89 lots, Sotheby's 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One of the unpublished typescripts contains a reference to the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.
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"It's very much like Lewis Carroll. 'Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland' and 'Through the Looking Glass' were two of Lennon's
favorite books from childhood and he read them on a yearly basis,"
said Philip Errington, director of printed books and manuscripts at
"It is gibberish, it is gobbledygook, and yet it's funny, it's
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
"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
The New York sale will take place on June 4.
(Reporting by Julia Fioretti)
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