In His Own Write

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In His Own Write
In His Own Write.jpg
First edition
AuthorJohn Lennon
GenreNonsense literature, surrealist fiction
PublisherJonathan Cape

Simon & Schuster

Publication date
23 March 1964
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages80 pp
828/.91409 21
LC ClassPR6062.E6 I6 2000
Followed byA Spaniard in the Works 

In His Own Write is a nonsensical book by John Lennon first published on 23 March 1964.[1] It consists of short stories and poems, and line drawings, often surreal in nature. The book was the first solo project by one of the members of the Beatles in any creative medium. It was followed in 1965 by A Spaniard in the Works.[2][3]


In His Own Write was Lennon's first book, and was originally published in March 1964 by Simon & Schuster of New York, and Jonathan Cape of Great Britain.[4] 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 Britain, 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.[3] There have been numerous reprints and subsequent editions, in hard cover and paperback, as recent as the year 2010. The first edition preface was written by Paul McCartney.[2]

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 humour.[2] Lennon used the phrase "a hard day's night" at one point, in one of his stories, "Sad Michael".[5] That phrase was coined by Ringo Starr and later used as a title for a song, an album, and a movie.[6]

Offered in hard cover it featured a photo of John Lennon taken by Robert Freeman. True, original, first run copies of this book can be identified by a few specific details. Most notable of these is a red sticker, measuring 2 14 by 58 in (57 by 16 mm), with rounded corners that reads "The writing Beatle!". Some first run issues have been seen without this sticker. Additionally, there is a small printed price marking of $2.50 on the bottom left corner of the back cover. The main title page, on the fourth page, reads "Simon & Schuster, New York 1964", as the only publishing credit; the verso has just a copyright symbol followed by "1964 by John Lennon" in the top third of the page, and "Cover photograph by Robert Freeman", with "Printed in Great Britain" beneath that, in the bottom third of the page. Simon & Schuster is also printed on the bottom of the spine, below the title "John Lennon In His Own Write".


The book was also transformed into a play, co-authored with the American playwright Adrienne Kennedy and Victor Spinetti, who directed, at the National Theatre, premiering on 18 June 1968, at the Old Vic.[7][4] 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."[8][9]

Actor/director Jonathan Glew produced a three-handed adaptation of the book that premiered as a pay-what-you-want show at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[10]


  1. ^ "23 March 1964: John Lennon's In His Own Write is published". The Beatles Bible. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Ulin, David L. (October 8, 2010). "Book review: 'In His Own Write' and 'A Spaniard in the Works' by John Lennon". LA Times. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Clarke, John (December 14, 2014). "In His Own Write/ A Spaniard in the Works by John Lennon, book review: All you need is love of wordplay". The Independent. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "50 Years of Beatles: John Lennon's 'In His Own Write'". Penn State News. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  5. ^ "There was no reason for Michael to be sad that morning, (the little wretch); everyone liked him, (the scab). He'd had a hard day's night that day, for Michael was a Cocky Watchtower."
  6. ^ Badman, Keith. The Beatles Off the Record. p. 93.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  7. ^ Premiere of In His Own Write stage play
  8. ^ YouTube video of interview with Release
  9. ^ Transcript of BBC2 Release interview with Lennon and Spinetti
  10. ^ "John Lennon: In His Own Write | Review | Theatre | The Stage". The Stage. Retrieved 2017-06-19.