John Lennon was a busy man in the 1960s. Beatlemania sang melodiously from radio stations and record players. For Lennon, there were concerts, albums, films and even two published books, In His Own Write and A Spaniard In The Works.
"You Might Well Arsk" is a collection of more than 100 short stories, poems, and line drawings dating back to the early 1960s that Lennon originally did for the two books. Going up for auction at Sotheby's in New York on June 4th, the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first appearance in America on the "Ed Sullivan Show," the collection comes from Tom Maschler, creator of the prestigious literary award the Booker Prize, who published Lennon's two books in 1964 and 1965, respectively.
The original pieces were given to Maschler by Lennon out of gratitude for commissioning his second book, A Spaniard In The Works, after the success of his first book.
In a statement to the New York Times, Maschler said:
"My relationship with John Lennon was different to those I had with all the other authors I worked with over my years as a publisher. Having seen a superb sketch of his that a mutual acquaintance showed me, I met with John to suggest that he should produce John Lennon In His Own Write. I then had to inspire in him the confidence to write and produce the drawings."According to Sotheby's, the collection of John Lennon's early work has a pre-sale estimate of approximately $80,000 spread over 89 different lots.
"This stuff is just pouring from him. At that time it was really just for the entertainment of the others so they were cramped in their van going from gig to gig and we would be scribbling this stuff and then reading aloud and the others were all cracking up. They loved John's sense of humor," said Mark Lewisohn, a Beatles historian.
The director of printed books and manuscripts at Sotheby's, Philip Erington, talked about Lennon's style at the time the drawings and various writings were done:
"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. It is gibberish, it is gobbledygook, and yet it's funny, it's humorous verse."The highlight of the collection is a nine page Sherlock Holmes parody titled "The Singularge Experience of Miss Anne Duffield". Written after a vacation to Tahiti in 1964, during which Lennon read several Holmes stories, the singer says it is the longest prose piece he ever completed.
Recently, a sketch on a album sleeve John Lennon did in 1974, depicting an alleged UFO sighting, went up for auction and sold for nearly $17,000, which was ten times what it was expected to fetch.
[Image via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]