Cynthia Lennon: Wikis


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Cynthia Lennon
John on left, Cynthia on right, sitting side by side on the roof of a car.
John Lennon and Cynthia Powell in 1959
Born Cynthia Powell
10 September 1939 (1939-09-10) (age 70)
Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Residence Majorca, Spain
Nationality English
Spouse(s) John Lennon (1962–68) (divorced)
Roberto Bassanini (1970–73) (divorced)
John Twist (1976–83) (divorced)
Noel Charles (2002–present)
Children Julian Lennon
Parents Charles Powell (father)
Lillian Powell (mother)

Cynthia Lennon (née Powell) (b. 10 September 1939) is the former wife of musician John Lennon. She grew up in the middle-class section of Hoylake, on the Wirral Peninsula, and at 12 years old was accepted into the Junior Art School, and later was enrolled in the Liverpool College of Art. Lennon also attended the college, meeting Powell in a calligraphy class, which led to a relationship. They soon bought a dog together.

When Lennon was performing in Hamburg with The Beatles, she rented Lennon's bedroom from his aunt and legal guardian, Mimi Smith. After she became pregnant with Julian Lennon, the Lennons were married on 23 August 1962, at the Mount Pleasant Register office in Liverpool. In 1968, Lennon left her for Yoko Ono, and planned to sue for divorce and sole custody of their son. During this time Paul McCartney visited her, composing "Hey Jude" on the way. The Lennons' divorce was legally granted on 8 November 1968.

She married Italian hotelier Roberto Bassanini in 1970, divorcing him in 1973. In 1976, she married John Twist, an engineer from Lancashire, but divorced him in 1983. After her divorce, she changed her name back to Lennon by deed poll and met Jim Christie, who was her partner for 17 years. She published A Twist of Lennon in 1978, and later married Noel Charles, a night club owner, in 2002. In September 2005, she published a new biography, John. In 2006, she and her son attended the Las Vegas premiere of the Cirque du Soleil production of the Beatles Love, which marked her only joint public appearance with Ono. She currently lives in Majorca, Spain.


Early years

Powell with her brother Charles and her father, in 1945.

Cynthia Lennon was the last of three children born to Charles Powell and his wife Lillian (née Roby) who had two older sons named Charles and Anthony (Tony).[1] Charles Powell worked for the GEC company.[2] In 1939, Mrs Powell (who was carrying Cynthia) was sent to Blackpool after World War II had been declared, and lived in a small room in a bed-and-breakfast on the Blackpool seafront before giving birth.[3] After the birth, the Powell family moved to a two-bedroomed semi-detached house in Hoylake.[4] At 12-years-old she was accepted into the Junior Art School.[5]

Art college

In September 1957, Powell gained a place at the Liverpool College of Art.[3][5] Although studying graphics, she also took calligraphy classes, as did Lennon.[6] He never had any drawing tools with him, so he constantly borrowed pens and pencils from Powell, who found out that he was only in the class because other teachers had refused to instruct him.[7] Lennon sometimes brought a guitar with him into class, and once sang "Ain't She Sweet" directly to Powell.[8] She once overheard Lennon make a comment about a girl with blonde hair in the college, who looked similar to Brigitte Bardot. The next Saturday, Powell turned up at the college with her hair several shades blonder.[6] Lennon noticed straight away, exclaiming, "Get you, Miss Hoylake!" (Lennon's nickname for her, referring to the middle-class suburb where she lived).[9] He also used to call her "Miss Powell", but after their relationship started, simply "Cyn" [Cynthia].[10]


Relationship with Lennon

Their relationship started after a college party to celebrate the end of term, when Lennon asked her to go to the Ye Cracke pub with him.[11] She replied that she was engaged, so Lennon stormed off, shouting, "I didn't ask you to fucking marry me, did I?"[12] She later went to the pub, but Lennon ignored her all evening. As she was ready to leave, he grabbed her hand and took her to a room his fellow student, Stuart Sutcliffe, was renting, where they engaged in sexual intercourse for the first time.[13][14] During the beginning of their relationship, they often had sex in alleyways or shop doorways if Sutcliffe's room was not available.[15][16] Lennon's jealousy could manifest itself in violent behavior towards Powell, as when he slapped her across the face (hitting her head against the wall) after he saw her dancing with Sutcliffe.[17] After the incident, Powell broke up with Lennon for three months, but they resumed their relationship after Lennon's profuse apology.[18] Mimi Smith (Lennon's aunt and guardian) referred to Powell as "a gangster's moll", and was often unpleasant towards her.[19][20]

The Beatles went to Hamburg for the second time in 1961, and both Powell and Dot Rhone (McCartney's girlfriend at the time) visited them two weeks later, but had to stay up all night because of the long sets, with both taking Preludin, which The Beatles were also taking to stay awake.[21] Powell waited until Lennon came back from Hamburg before she asked Smith—who had taken in lodgers before at 251 Menlove Avenue—if she would rent a room to her. Smith rented out the box-room above the front door (which used to be Lennon's bedroom) but insisted that she do chores around the house.[22] To pay the rent, she took a job at a Woolworths store in Liverpool after her student grant had run out.[23] In 1961, when Lennon was 21 years old, he received £100 from his aunt Mater who lived in Edinburgh, and went to Paris with McCartney. Powell could not accompany them as she was studying for her final exams.[24]

When Lennon went to Hamburg again in April 1962, she found a bedsit in a terraced house at 93 Garmoyle Road, Liverpool.[25] Shortly after having failed an exam in July 1962, she found out that she was pregnant with Lennon's child.[23] She explained that she and Lennon had never used contraception, had never talked about it, and didn't think about it at the time.[26] When she told Lennon he said, "There's only one thing for it Cyn, we'll have to get married".[26]


The Lennons were married on 23 August 1962, at the Mount Pleasant Register office in Liverpool.[27] Fellow Beatles McCartney and George Harrison were in attendance, as was their manager Brian Epstein, who was best man.[27][28] The wedding was farcical, because as soon as the ceremony began a workman in the backyard of the building opposite started using a pneumatic drill which drowned out anything the registrar, Lennon or Powell said. When the registrar asked for the groom to step forward, Harrison stepped forward instead.[29] With no photographs or flowers the wedding party celebrated afterwards, at Epstein's invitation, in Reece's restaurant in Clayton Square. Reece's was the same restaurant where Lennon's parents, Freddie Lennon and Julia Lennon, had celebrated their marriage twenty-four years earlier, in 1938.[29] The newly weds had no honeymoon, as Lennon had to play an engagement at the Riverpark Ballroom in Chester the same night .[29] During her pregnancy Epstein offered the couple the use of his flat at 36 Faulkner Street, and later paid for a private hospital room when the pregnancy was coming to term.[30] After the Lennons had been living at Epstein's flat for a few months Smith offered to rent the downstairs rooms of Mendips to them both.[31]


After she had been in labour for 24 hours, John Charles Julian Lennon was born on 8 April 1963, at 6:50 a.m. in the Sefton General Hospital in Liverpool. Lennon was not present as he was on tour, although he did see his son three days later during a short stop-over trip to Liverpool.[32] The press heard rumours about Lennon having a wife and child at the end of 1963—after Beatlemania had already swept the whole of Europe—and descended on Hoylake in November and December. Friends and neighbours protected her anonymity, but she was often approached by journalists.[33] In late December she had her son christened at the Hoylake parish church, but did not tell Lennon because she feared a media circus, and also because she knew Lennon would not approve; only telling him about the christening two days after the event. Epstein asked to be Julian's godfather, and not long after newspapers printed the full story about Lennon's "secret wife and child".[30][34]

The Lennons moved to London and found a three-bedroomed flat in Emperor's Gate, off Cromwell Road.[35] The flat was the third flat of three, which were all built over two floors, which meant climbing six flights of stairs, with fans waiting in the hallway.[36] On The Beatles' first trip to America she accompanied the group, with Lennon agreeing to photos of the two of them together.[37] When The Beatles arrived in Washington in February 1964, she wore a black wig, and journalists were told, “Mrs. Lennon doesn’t give interviews, Mrs. Lennon likes to stay in the background.”[38] At Emperor's Gate the situation became intolerable, with fans sticking chewing gum in the lock of the flat and tearing at any article of clothing when either of the Lennons left or arrived.[39] The Beatles' accountant advised Epstein that the individual Beatles should move to houses near the accountant's own house in Esher, so the Lennons bought a house called Kenwood, which was a mock-Tudor-style house on 3 acres (12,000 m2) in Weybridge, where Tom Jones and Cliff Richard already lived.[39][40][41]


Side view of the Lennons' home in Weybridge.

Lennon spent twice the original £20,000 purchase price on renovations for Kenwood, reducing its 22 rooms to 17.[42] The new kitchen was so modern and complicated that someone had to be sent to Kenwood to explain how everything worked,[43] and during the extensive renovations the couple had to live in the attic bedroom for nine months.[44] Although she enjoyed entertaining in the larger rooms, Lennon could usually be found in a small sunroom at the back of the house overlooking the swimming pool, which was similar to Smith's conservatory in Liverpool.[45]

Kenwood became the place to visit for the other Beatles, various American musicians, and total strangers that Lennon had met the previous night in London nightclubs.[46] When she passed her driving test Lennon bought her a white Mini, and then a gold Porsche. Lennon traded the Mini in for a Ferrari, as he had recently passed his driving test.[47]

In 1965, she opened the front door of Kenwood to see a man who "looked like a tramp", but with Lennon's face. He explained that he was Lennon's father, whom Lennon had supposedly not seen for years.[48] Lennon was annoyed when he came home, telling her for the first time that his father had visited the NEMS office a few weeks before.[48] Three years after the meeting in the NEMS office, Lennon's father (who was then 56-years-old) turned up at Kenwood again with his fiancée, nineteen-year-old student Pauline Jones.[49] He asked if his son could give Pauline a job, so she was hired to help with Julian and the piles of Beatles' fan mail. Lennon's father and his fiancée spent a few months living at Kenwood in the attic bedroom.[49]


She knew that Lennon took drugs like cannabis and Preludin, but thought of them as not being very dangerous.[44] At a dinner party the Lennons, Harrison and Pattie Boyd were given LSD without their knowledge by a dentist, John Riley,[50] at his flat in Strathearn Place, central London.[51][52] Against the repeated advice of Riley and his wife, they later went to the Pickwick club, and then the Ad Lib club, where they thought the lift up to the club was on fire; crawling out of the lift which Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull and Starr were waiting for. Harrison later drove them back home in Boyd's Mini Cooper at no more than 10mph, as he was still feeling the effects of the drug. They stayed up all night at Kenwood, experiencing the full effects of their first LSD trip.[53] Lennon then started taking LSD on a regular basis.[54] The Beatles publicly renounced drugs—although never completely—after their initial meetings with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in London, and took a train to Bangor, in Wales, to meet him again in the summer of 1967. Epstein had previously agreed to travel to Bangor after the August Bank Holiday, but died of a drug overdose on 27 August.[55][56]

India and Ono

The Beatles were scheduled to fly to India to visit the Maharishi for two or three months, but Cynthia found some letters from Ono to Lennon that made it clear that he had had contact with her over a period of time.[57] Lennon denied that he was involved with Ono, explaining that she was just some "crazy artist" who wanted to be sponsored, although Ono kept up a stream of calls and visits to Kenwood.[58] In February 1968, the Lennons flew to India with the other Beatles and their partners.[59] "Magic Alex" (Greek-born Alex Mardas who was part of Apple Electronics) arrived later, smuggling in alcohol from the nearest village as it was not allowed in the ashram. After two weeks Lennon asked to sleep in a separate room, saying he could only meditate when he was alone,[60] walking down to the local post office every morning to see if he had received a telegram from Ono, who sent one almost daily.[61]


Lennon and her son at Kenwood in 1968, after her husband had left.

After returning to Kenwood from India, Lennon got very drunk on scotch and coke and confirmed that there had been other women during their marriage. He went on to detail his liaisons with every groupie, friends (such as Joan Baez and Maureen Cleave), and the "thousands" of women around the globe.[62] Two weeks later, in May 1968, Lennon suggested that she take a holiday in Greece with Mardas, Donovan, and two friends, as he would be very busy recording The White Album.[63] She arrived back at Kenwood from Greece earlier than expected on 22 May 1968, to discover Lennon and Ono sitting cross-legged on the floor, staring into each others eyes, and found Ono's slippers outside the Lennons' bedroom door.[64] She then asked Jenny Boyd and Mardas if she could spend the night at their apartment. At the apartment Boyd went straight to bed, but she and Mardas drank more alcohol, with Mardas trying to convince her that they should both run away together. After she had vomited in the bathroom she collapsed on a bed in the spare bedroom, with Mardas joining her and trying to kiss her until she pushed him away.[65]

Lennon seemed absolutely normal when she returned to Kenwood the next day, and steadfastly maintained his love for her and their son.[66] Lennon went to New York with McCartney shortly after, so a trip to Italy was arranged with her mother.[67] Mardas appeared during the holiday in Italy and broke the news that Lennon was planning to sue for divorce on grounds of adultery, seek sole custody of Julian, and "send her back to Hoylake".[68] She said in 2005: "The mere fact that ‘Magic Alex’ [Mardas] arrived in Italy in the middle of the night without any prior knowledge of where I was staying made me extremely suspicious. I was being coerced into making it easy for John [Lennon] and Yoko [Ono] to accuse me of doing something that would make them not look so bad."[69]

She returned to Kenwood while Lennon and Ono took up residence at Starr's flat at 34 Montagu Square. Lennon and his wife had one last short meeting at Kenwood (with Ono alongside Lennon) with Lennon accusing her of having an affair in India, saying that she was no "innocent little flower".[70] McCartney visited her and Julian that year,[71] and on the way to Kenwood he composed a song in his head that would later become "Hey Jude".[71] During their divorce, Lennon refused to give his wife any more than £75,000, telling her on the phone, "That's like winning the pools, so what are you moaning about? You're not worth any more."[72] She finally accepted £100,000, plus £2,400 a year, custody of Julian, and Kenwood. Their decree nisi was granted on 8 November 1968.[73]

She received a phone call from Starr two hours after Lennon had been shot in New York on 8 December 1980. "I don't remember getting out of bed and going down the stairs to the phone. But Ringo's [Starr's] words, the sound of his tearful voice crackling over the transatlantic line, is crystal clear: 'Cynthia, I'm so sorry, John's dead.' In my stunned state I had only one clear thought. My son, our son, [Julian] was at home in bed, I had to get back to Ruthin so that I could tell him about his father's death."[74]

Later life to present

On 31 July 1970, she married Italian hotelier Roberto Bassanini, whom she'd first met in Italy in 1966, and had started dating after parting with Lennon,[75] although she divorced Bassanini in 1973. During Lennon's separation from Yoko in 1973 and 1974, his partner at the time, May Pang, actively tried to get Lennon to spend more time with his son, forming a friendship with Lennon's ex-wife in the process, which continued even after Lennon and Yoko were reconciled.[69]

On May 1, 1976, she married John Twist, an engineer from Lancashire, but they divorced in 1983. She later met Jim Christie, who was her partner for 17 years. She said at the time: "Jim [Christie] has never felt he's living in John Lennon's shadow. He's four years younger than me and wasn't really part of that whole Beatles scene.[76] They lived on the Isle of Man for some years, but broke up in 1999.[77] After her divorce from Twist, she changed her name back to Lennon by deed poll. She had kept mementos of Lennon for years, auctioning off many of them after his death. She published a memoir, A Twist of Lennon, in 1978, telling about her life before and with Lennon, and containing her own illustrations and poetry.[78] In 2002, she married Noel Charles, a night club owner. In September 2005, she published a new biography, John, that re-examined her life with Lennon and the years afterwards, including the events following his death. In 2006, she and her son attended the Las Vegas premiere of the Cirque du Soleil production of the Beatles Love, which marked her only joint public appearance with Ono.[79] Lennon currently lives with her husband on the island of Majorca, Spain.[80]


  1. ^ Lennon (2006) p14
  2. ^ Lennon (2006) p17
  3. ^ a b Lennon (2006) p16
  4. ^ Lennon (2006) pp16-17
  5. ^ a b Lennon (2006) p15
  6. ^ a b Spitz (2005) pp154-155
  7. ^ Lennon (2006) p22
  8. ^ Lennon (2006) pp24-25
  9. ^ Lennon (2006) pp25-26
  10. ^ Spitz (2005) p155
  11. ^ Lennon (2006) p27
  12. ^ Spitz (2005) p156
  13. ^ "Beatle Homes". Retrieved 2007-01-14. 
  14. ^ Lennon (2006) pp28-29
  15. ^ Lennon (2006) p35
  16. ^ "Living with Lennon". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-05-04. 
  17. ^ "Lennon's friends recall ex-Beatle". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-05-04. 
  18. ^ Miles (1997) pp48-49.
  19. ^ Lennon (2006) p80
  20. ^ Lennon (2006) pp332-333
  21. ^ Miles (1997) p69
  22. ^ Spitz (2005) p312
  23. ^ a b Spitz (2005) p313
  24. ^ Lennon (2006) p99
  25. ^ "The Beatle Girls: Dot Rhone". Retrieved 2007-10-17. 
  26. ^ a b Lennon (2006) pp122-124
  27. ^ a b Spitz (2005) p348
  28. ^ Brown (2002) p83
  29. ^ a b c Spitz (2005) p349
  30. ^ a b Brown (2002) p93
  31. ^ Lennon (2006) p139
  32. ^ Spitz (2005) p394
  33. ^ Spitz (2005) p412
  34. ^ Lennon (2006) pp170-171
  35. ^ Miles (1997) p103
  36. ^ Spitz (2005) p436
  37. ^ Spitz (2005) pp460-462
  38. ^ "Beatles Browser Four (p1)". Bill Harry/Mersey Beat Ltd.. Retrieved 2009-07-04. 
  39. ^ a b Spitz (2005) p514
  40. ^ Miles (1997) pp166-167
  41. ^ "Google satellite photo of Lennon's home". Google Maps.,+Weybridge&sll=51.345806,-0.45847&sspn=0.002339,0.003594&ie=UTF8&ll=51.355599,-0.446389&spn=0.001169,0.001797&t=h&z=19&om=1. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  42. ^ Miles (1997) p168
  43. ^ Miles (1997) p169
  44. ^ a b Spitz (2005) p548
  45. ^ Miles (1997) p143
  46. ^ Lennon (2006) pp204-206
  47. ^ Lennon (2006) p223
  48. ^ a b Lennon (2006) pp239-240
  49. ^ a b Spitz (2005) pp739
  50. ^ Boyd, Pattie (2007-08-05). "Patti Boyd: The dentist who spiked my coffee with LSD". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  51. ^ Spitz (2005) p565
  52. ^ Herbert, Ian (2006-09-09). "Revealed: Dentist who introduced Beatles to LSD". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  53. ^ Spitz (2005) p566
  54. ^ Spitz (2005) pp665-666
  55. ^ "On This Day – The death of Brian Epstein". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-03-09. 
  56. ^ Miles (1997) p404
  57. ^ Spitz (2005) p740
  58. ^ Spitz (2005) pp740-741
  59. ^ Spitz (2005) p750
  60. ^ Spitz (2005) p755
  61. ^ Lennon (2006) pp277-279
  62. ^ Spitz (2005) p758
  63. ^ Lennon (2006) pp281-282
  64. ^ Spitz (2005) p772
  65. ^ Lennon (2006) pp288-289
  66. ^ Spitz (2005) p773
  67. ^ Lennon (2006) pp292-293
  68. ^ Coleman (1992) p464.
  69. ^ a b "The Loves Of John Lennon" by Chris Hunt, Uncut John Lennon Special, 2005
  70. ^ Lennon (2006) p300
  71. ^ a b Spitz (2005) p782
  72. ^ Coleman (1992) p467.
  73. ^ Spitz (2005) p800
  74. ^ "Cynthia Lennon". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-05-03. 
  75. ^ Lennon (2006) p293
  76. ^ "The Linda McDermott interview: Cynthia Lennon". Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  77. ^ Lennon (2006) p390
  78. ^ "Life with the Beatles". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-05-04. 
  79. ^ "All you need is Love: Beatles show hits Vegas". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-05-04. 
  80. ^ Lennon (2006) p420


External links

Simple English

Cynthia Lillian Lennon née Powell (born September 10, 1939 in Blackpool, Lancashire, England) was the first wife of John Lennon.

Cynthia divorced Lennon in 1968 after he left her for Yoko Ono. She was mother to Lennon's first son Julian.


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