I didn’t know this sad story but someone in my all things adoption group mentioned it. “Ok adoptees, tell me John Lennon didn’t capture mother abandonment in his song: How?”
So I went looking for the story. I found an article in a Liverpool newspaper titled “The true tale of John Lennon’s mum revealed in Walton author’s book.”
His mum’s early death in 1958 is understood to have scarred him for life and inspired his music. On his 1970 song, Mother, he sang “You had me but I never had you”. Kevin Roach says that the idea of Julia as an irresponsible “good-time girl” who couldn’t look after her son came from Aunt Mimi, who raised John in her house in Menlove Avenue.
In Julia, Kevin goes into detail on the rows between Julia, her father George and her sister Mimi, as well as her relationships with men. Julia Stanley’s family never approved of her relationship with Alf Lennon, and they eventually married in secret. But merchant seaman Alf deserted her after baby John was born. As World War II continued, she had a brief affair that left her pregnant – but she was forced by her father to give up that baby for adoption.
She later met another man, John “Bobby” Dykins, but her sister Mimi disapproved. Eventually, after Mimi reported Julia to social services, Mimi won custody of John. Julia had two children with Bobby and later became close to John again, sharing her passion for music. But in 1958, she died after being hit by a car in Menlove Avenue.
Later in life John remarked that he had lost his mother twice – once at five, when he was sent to live with his aunt, and once at 17 when she died.
The book Julia by Roach appears to be out of print with a few, very expensive used copies available at Amazon. But I learned there is also a movie titled Nowhere Boy which thankfully is available at Netflix (and so I have added it to my list).
Nowhere Boy is a 2009 British biographical drama about John Lennon’s adolescence, his relationships with his aunt Mimi Smith and his mother Julia Lennon, the creation of his first band, the Quarrymen, and its evolution into the Beatles. The movie is based on a biography written by Lennon’s half-sister, Julia Baird.