In His own Write

by John Lennon
   At the very breaking point of worldwide Beatlemania, john lennon, who was directly afterward dubbed the “clever” Beatle, added to his notorious pop-chart success with a literary best seller, bearing a name donated by Paul McCartney, In His Own Write. (Apocryphal or not, the story goes that it was originally to be called “In His Own Write and Draw”—except at the last minute the multiple puns seemed unnecessarily awkward.) Published by Jonathan Cape in the United Kingdom and by Simon and Schuster in the United States, it was an instant international success and won the Foyles Literary Prize. Said the Times Literary Supplement, “Worth the attention of anyone who fears for the impoverishment of the English language and the British imagination.” Lennon was hailed as a new literary voice, while similar accolades were bestowed upon bob dylan as a serious balladeer and spokesman for his generation. Amid the bombast, a quiet rivalry between the two was established. Lennon’s poems, word play, and comical drawings were the accumulated satirical jabs and musings of a young man on the road, a young man capable of much more than just constructing pop songs or sending shivers up teenage girls’ spines with his dynamic vocals. A slim volume, In His Own Write is the essence of what it is to be all things Liverpudlian—inordinately irreverent, riotously yet subtly funny, fiercely individualistic, and naturally theatrical. With his gift of cutting dialogue, Lennon mocks hypocrites, mediocrity, the banal, and the sanctimonious, and he does it with savagely wicked glee. Critics and fans alike were quick to point out his obvious influences—James Joyce (Lennon said that he had never heard of him), Edward Lear (him either), Chaucer (said that he had never read him). He did admit to being partial to Lewis Carroll and even later wrote his “I Am the Walrus” as a response to Carroll’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter.”
   Foyles Bookstore held a literary luncheon in Lennon’s honor at the Dorchester Hotel in April 1964. Not since George Bernard Shaw had been similarly honored had so many requests for invitations been received. When the young author, hung-over from his own previous night of revelry, was called to make a speech, he stood, mumbled something incoherent, and sat back down. Explanations of what he actually said conflict with one another. It could have been, “God bless you,” “It’s been a pleasure,” or “You’ve got a lucky face”—this last an expression of gratitude made by Liverpool panhandlers after having received a handout.
   So popular was Lennon’s maiden literary voyage that he was asked for more, and in 1965 A Spaniard in the Works was published. This undertaking required more immediate attention, as there were no verses or drawings left, and Lennon was required to start his writing anew. Once again the results were well received and publicized (in the movie Help! Lennon appears in one vignette shamelessly kissing a copy of the book), and by the end of the decade American writer Adrienne Kennedy had adapted both Lennon works as a play, In His Own Write, directed by Lennon’s close friend, actor Victor Spinetti, at the Old Vic Theatre. Lennon takes aim at mainstream life and values in his two collections and often the attacks are not only uproariously funny but vitriolic as well, perhaps even mean spirited. He ranks with the best of his American precursors of the Beat Generation, those who had had enough of being marginalized or ignored or ridiculed simply because they were different or because they held different views and a hope for a more inclusive society.
■ Brown, Peter, and Steven Gaines. The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of The Beatles. New York: Signet, 1983.
■ Coleman, Ray. Lennon. New York: McGraw Hill, 1984.
■ ———. A Spaniard in the Works. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1964.
■ ———. Skywriting by Word of Mouth. New York: Harper & Row, 1986.
   Greg Herriges

Encyclopedia of Beat Literature. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • In His Own Write — is a book from 1964 by John Lennon. The book consists of short stories and line drawings, often surreal and always nonsensical. It is notable in that it was the first solo Beatle project in any form. It was followed in 1965 by A Spaniard in the… …   Wikipedia

  • own*/*/*/ — [əʊn] grammar word I summary: Own can be: ■ an adjective: We grow our own vegetables. ■ a pronoun: Her sister s house is bigger than her own. 1) belonging to a particular person or thing and not to any other You are free to do what you like in… …   Dictionary for writing and speaking English

  • his */*/*/ — weak [ɪz] , strong [hɪz] grammar word summary: His is the possessive form of ‘he , which can be: ■ a determiner: He gave me his address. ■ a pronoun: My computer didn t cost as much as his. 1) used for showing that something belongs to or is… …   Dictionary for writing and speaking English

  • write your own ticket — see ↑write • • • Main Entry: ↑ticket write your own ticket informal ◇ If you can write your own ticket, you can choose to do whatever you want or to go wherever you want because you have excellent or special skills or abilities. When he graduates …   Useful english dictionary

  • Write — Write, v. t. [imp. {Wrote}; p. p. {Written}; Archaic imp. & p. p. {Writ}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Writing}.] [OE. writen, AS. wr[=i]tan; originally, to scratch, to score; akin to OS. wr[=i]tan to write, to tear, to wound, D. rijten to tear, to rend, G.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Write-in candidate — A write in candidate is a candidate in an election whose name does not appear on the ballot, but for whom voters may vote nonetheless by writing in the person s name. Some states and local jurisdictions allow a voter to affix a sticker with a… …   Wikipedia

  • write one's own ticket — verb To be empowered to choose whatever job, financial arrangement, or course of action one desires. Mr. DeChadenedes said that any one wishing to back the Republican candidate could write his own ticket and name his own price …   Wiktionary

  • His Excellency (opera) — for a run of 88 performances, and in German translation at the Carltheater, Vienna, in both 1895 and 1897. The opera also enjoyed a British provincial tour.BackgroundFrom the late 1870s through the 1880s, Gilbert wrote a series of successful… …   Wikipedia

  • write out — The procedure used when a specialist makes a trade involving his own inventory, on one hand, and a floor broker s order, on the other. The broker must first complete the trade with the specialist, who then transacts a separate trade with the… …   Financial and business terms

  • write — (rīt) v. wrote (rōt), writ·ten (rĭt’n) also writ (rĭt), writ·ing, writes v. tr. 1. a) To form (letters, words, or symbols) on a surface such as paper with an instrument such as a pen. b) …   Word Histories

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.