John Lennon Manuscripts Sell for $2.9 Million at Auction

The works cull from the Beatle's mid-Sixties books, 'In His Own Write' and 'A Spaniard in the Works'

John Lennon
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John Lennon
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UPDATE: More than 100 John Lennon manuscripts sold for a collective $2.9 million, more than double the pre-sale estimate, at Sotheby's, according to New York Times.

John Lennon's original poetry and drawings for his mid-Sixties books In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works are headed to auction. The books' U.K. publisher, Tom Maschler, has held onto the works over the past 50 years and, when the 89 pieces hit the Sotheby's auction block on June 5th, will comprise the largest-ever private collection of Lennon's work to be offered up. Prices for the works range from $500 to $70,000, according to The Associated Press.

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One notable work going to auction is a drawing of a boy with six birds that appeared in the 1965 book A Spaniard in the Works. It was later used on the cover of the Beatles' 1995 single "Free as a Bird" and is expected to sell for between $12,000 and $15,000.

Two other works of interest are a nine-page manuscript for "The Singularge Experience of Miss Anne Duffield," a Sherlock Holmes parody, and a nonsensical poem titled "The Fat Budgie." The former is expected to go for between $50,000 and $70,000, while the latter could earn between $25,000 and $35,000.

Lennon released In His Own Write, which contained 31 short stories and poems, in 1964. He put out A Spaniard in the Works – whose title puns on the British idiom "a spanner in the works," similar to "a wrench in the works," AP points out – the following year.

Lennon discussed the books in a lengthy 1971 interview with Rolling Stone, saying they were an extension of exploring his emotion in songs like "I'm a Loser" and "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." "I was already a stylized songwriter on the first album," he said. "But to express myself I would write Spaniard in the Works or In His Own Write, the personal stories which were expressive of my personal emotions."