New John Lennon book photos taken by North Walsham woman
17:23 05 October 2012
A young photographer from North Walsham has been taking photos of John Lennon’s letters for a new book on the legendary Beatle which will be published next week.
Charlotte Knee’s photographs will appear in The John Lennon Letters, by Hunter Davies, the Beatles’ only authorised biographer, which will be launched at the British Museum on Tuesday October 9 - what would have been Lennon’s 72nd birthday.
The launch also coincides with the 50th anniversary month of the release of the Beatles’ first hit single, Love Me Do.
Ms Knee, 27, spent a number of hours at Davies’ house photographing the extensive collection of original and reproduced letters, some of which belonged to the author who had been a personal friend of Lennon.
She also photographed Davies for his author’s headshot in the book.
Ms Knee, who now lives and works in London, grew up in North Walsham where her parents Rob and Penny Knee still live. She was a pupil at Aylsham High School and Paston College.
She landed the Lennon job after working in a Soho literacy agency with Davies’ book agent through whom she got to know the author.
“It was really exciting,” she said. “I didn’t have to wear gloves but Hunter Davies was looking over my shoulder. I handled the letters and photos very carefully.
John Lennon - did you know...?
1 Despite his “working class hero” image, Lennon came from very middle class origins in Liverpool.
2 His childhood home in Menlove Avenue, Woolton, South Liverpool, where he lived with his aunt and uncle Mimi and George Smith for 17 years, is now preserved by the National Trust.
3 Christened John Winston Lennon, in honour of British wartime leader Churchill, Lennon later adopted the middle name Ono.
4 John first got top billing in the late 1950s when, along with fellow Quarrymen members Paul McCartney and George Harrison the three entered a Manchester talent contest as Johnny and the Moondogs.
5 As well as writing poetry books In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works, Lennon was the first Beatle to “go solo” in a feature film - How I Won The War.
6 Many experts cite Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono, and her regular presence in the recording studio, as sowing the seeds of the break-up of the Beatles.
7 Lennon was the first Beatle to release a record under his own name with the Unfinished Music No 1 - Two Virgins LP with Yoko Ono in November 1968.
8 John’s first marriage to a pregnant Cynthia Powell in 1962 was kept quiet from Beatles fans but his second, to Yoko Ono in 1969, was a mass-media news story - celebrated in the Ballad of John and Yoko hit single and the Wedding Album LP.
9 Lennon’s “mop-top” public image was tarnished by the autobiography A Twist of Lennon by his ex-wife Cynthia in 1978 and by a “warts-and-all” biography by Albert Goldman after his death.
10 Lennon’s 1977 home demo recording Free As A Bird was added to by the three surviving Beatles in 1995 and became a hit single as well as a track on the six-CD Beatles Anthology set.
“The letters themselves were fascinating, I often found myself absorbed in reading each one, whether it was a tatty telegram sent to a fan, or a highly illustrated letter to a fellow Beatle.
“John Lennon was truly an amazing character and the book is going to give everyone a wonderful insight into his life.”
Although she wasn’t born when Lennon was murdered in 1980, Ms Knee said she had grown up listening to her parents’ Beatles collection and loved his music. She had found it especially interesting to trace his development through the letters, from a naive young man to a world-famous musician coping with relationships which had hit rockier ground.
She particularly remembered Lennon’s love letters from Hamburg to his girlfriend Cynthia who became his wife in 1962.
Ms Knee is looking forward to the launch and said there was a rumour that Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, might attend.
Ms Knee works as a professional wedding photographer and has photographed a number of marriages in Norfolk.
● The John Lennon Letters is published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson.