John Lennon, My Brother

I acquired John Lennon, My Brother by John’s half-sister Julia Baird (with Geoffrey Giuliano) over thirty years ago. It was published in 1988, but its inside flap was not clipped so I don’t think that I bought it as a remainder, yet cannot recall how I acquired it. It was a short book of 156 pages detailing Baird’s childhood in Liverpool where she lived with her namesake mother and sister, but not with her older half-brother John. She covered memories of hanging out with her big brother, his introduction to music and the early days of Beatlemania.

As the Beatles grew in popularity Baird wrote about girls literally setting up tents and camping outside Aunt Mimi’s house where John lived. As John’s half-sister she experienced the sudden and curious attention of fans who wanted to get to know her in order to get close to John. She still does.

She wrote about her adult relationship with John up until his death, which by the time he moved to New York consisted only of letters and phone calls. Baird has since written a longer account of her life with John (Imagine This: growing up with my brother John Lennon from 2007) which I own as a library discard, but have not yet read. It would be interesting to compare the two as I wonder what she would have included in the later book. I will only know for sure when I read it.

In the early eighties anyone who had even a passing relationship with John was writing a book and exploiting his memory for profit. I always admired Baird for maintaining her privacy, in spite of what I can only expect would be incessant calls from the media for her to say or write something. Many people close to her had no idea she was John’s half-sister until they read about the family connection in news reports after John’s death.

John Lennon, My Brother was not a tell-all book by any means, and was filled mostly with fond yet inconsequential childhood memories. Its brevity revealed no family secrets, although we do relive the devastating death of her and John’s mother in a car accident and the mourning she, her sister Jacqui and John shared. No other author could have written about this with such an intimate connection. I was touched by the stories Julia told about John, desperate for copies of photos of their mother. He kept them on display in his apartment in the Dakota.

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