ON THIS DATE (48 YEARS AGO)
April 27, 1964 – “In His Own Write,” John Lennon’s first book of prose, poetry, short stories and line drawings, was published in the US.
In His Own Write is a book from 1964 by John Lennon. The book consists of short stories and poems, 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 Works.
Lennon was adept at free association and improvisation in his linguistic explorations, which can be seen in both his prose writing and a portion of his lyrics. Use of puns, near-homonyms, bizarre imagery, disconnected narrative threads and references, creative misspellings, and abrupt, unresolved conclusions challenge the reader to either find meaning, or bring their own meaning to the text. It can be inferred that Lennon intended no deep meaning, but rather wanted to demonstrate his free-form creative abilities as well as his sense of humor.
The book was also transformed into a play, co-authored with Victor Spinetti, who directed, at the National Theatre, premièring on 18 June 1968, at the Old Vic. Spinetti and Lennon appeared together in June 1968 on BBC2’s Release. During the interview, Spinetti said of the play, “it’s not really John’s childhood, it’s all of ours really, isn’t it John?” John Lennon, assuming a camp voice answered “It is, we’re all one Victor, we’re all one aren‘t we. I mean ‘what’s going on?’.” Spinetti said the play “is about the growing up of any of us; the things that helped us to be more aware.”
In His Own Write was Lennon’s first book, and was originally published by Simon & Schuster Pub. Co. of New York, NY, and Jonathan Cape Pub. Co., of Great Britain. Although First issues credit only Simon & Schuster, First run issues of the book were distributed by both publishing companies at the same time. Printed in Great Britan it it enjoyed immediate success.
Reported in an article by Tom Wolfe, an initial printing in England sold 50,000 copies the first day, and Simon & Schuster had a first printing of 90,000 in the USA. There have been numerous reprints and subsequent editions, in hard cover and paperback, as recent as the year 2000.