Eighty nine lots, ranging in price from $500 to $70,000,
produced for the 1964 book "In His Own Write" and "A Spaniard in
the Works," published in 1965, will go under the hammer.
The event coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Beatles'
first appearance in America on the Ed Sullivan show.
"This is the most substantial collection of original artwork and
manuscript and typescript material by John Lennon that has ever
come up for auction," said Gabriel Heaton, a specialist in the
book and manuscript department of Sotheby's in London.
"It is one of the largest bodies of non-musical work he ever
produced," Heaton said in a telephone interview. Lennon was 40
when he was shot in 1980 in the courtyard of his New York home.
The collection, which is expected to bring a total of $850,000
to $1.8 million, is on view to the public at Sotheby's ahead of
the June 4 sale.
Other works featured in the auction include an introduction Paul
McCartney wrote for "In His Own Write" and a sketch of a guitar
player in front of a music stand.
"These items are produced right at the height of Beatlemania,"
said Heaton, adding that the text for the first book was
submitted before The Beatles trip to America and published on
their return to England.
Heaton described the manuscripts as short pieces, some in verse
and some in prose, that are comic and written in a strange
language of puns and word play.
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"No word is ever quite what it seemed," he explained. "It is heavily
influenced by the nonsense tradition of English literature."
Texts include Lennon giving his own brief biography and McCartney
remembering the first meeting with Lennon.
"You've got several pieces that are quite revealing, in an indirect
way, of his state of mind at the time, which is not as quite
straightforwardly happy as you might expect of a young man who has
just conquered the world, pretty much," said Heaton about Lennon.
The illustrations are distinctive, amusing and sometimes powerful
line drawings by Lennon, who in addition to his musical talents was
a trained artist. Some of the sketches accompany the verse and
others are stand-alone art works.
"It is a sale with a large number of wonderful pieces," said Heaton.
"This is an unusual chance to acquire significant and substantial
manuscript material by one of the great creative forces of the
The collection is being sold by Lennon's British publisher Tom
Maschler, who persuaded him to write the books.
(Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Gunna
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