John Lennon’s inimitable 1st book, in the lineage of Edward Lear to Poe. Never fails to make me laugh…. later adapted (partially) into a play in 1967…
1st Published in the UK in March 1964 -in hardback only by Jonathan Cape Ltd. On the first printing Robert Freeman’s portrait of Lennon is darker and with subsequent printings it gets lighter and more sepia in tone. A common fault is cracking and laminate lifting. I found that that while ‘shop customers’ who wanted a reading copy, generally didn’t care about which printing, they did want an original hardback over the subsequent paperbacks and the later facsimile hardback (which looked like a copy of copy:). However clean first printing 1st printings, from March 1964, fetched the premium.
The original UK edition rapidly went through two reprintings in April, then May, June, September, December and March 1965…shortly before Lennon’s second book, Spaniard in the Works was published in June. A US edition was also published in 1964 by Simon And Schuster (adding “The Writing Beatle” to the cover artwork), who also published a French language edition for the Canadian Market -retitled En Flagrant délire- best translated as – Stark Raving Mad . What’s interesting about this is that it adds an extra illustration- only repeated in the Robert Laffont French edition- to the introduction”Hello” page of an two headed figure saying “Bonjour”. The only reason I mention this is due to the “excitement” over an ‘extra illustration” in the paperback proof of Spaniard in The Works – that in reality is nothing more than a patch of green -signifying a verge of grass- on the end paper that was omitted from the final edition. An actual French, edition followed in 1965 ,published by Robert Laffont with Danish & German language editions published by Bergs Forlag and Bertelsmann (Buchgemeinschafts-Ausgabe) respectively.
In 1966 the first UK paperback, combining both books, was published as The Penguin John Lennon. The cover was art directed by future Beatles Illustrated Lyrics collaborator Alan Aldridge, who commissioned Duffy (Bowie’s Aladdin Sane LP cover- amongst a zillion iconic photos) to shoot the cover. The first US paperback edition appeared in January 1967, again using the awful title “The Writing Beatle” with even worse M.A.D magazine style artwork. The cover was replaced in 1969 using an out take from the UK back cover session.
N.B : when you select an edition, you might need to scroll back up to view the photo of it. Either use the magnifier or double click for the image to expand.
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