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John Lennon Letters and Lyrics donated to the Nation

British Library first institution to benefit from the new 'lifetime giving' scheme.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Strawberry Fields Forever lyrics
Strawberry Fields Forever (1967) Lyrics courtesy of © Sony Music

Manuscripts of the lyrics to The Beatles hit songs Strawberry Fields Forever, She Said She Said and In My Life, handwritten by John Lennon, have been donated to the British Library under the new Cultural Gifts Scheme, introduced by the Government earlier this year.

Hunter Davies, the acclaimed Beatles biographer and current owner of the documents, had loaned some of the items to the British Library in the past; and these, together with some previously unseen material, are to be formally handed over to the nation at an event at the British Library later today.

Perfect home

Speaking ahead of the event, Hunter Davies said:

I want my Beatles collection to be kept together, in one place, and on public display, and the British Library is the perfect home for it. I have always been pleased to see them in the Treasures Gallery, next to the Magna Carta, and works by Shakespeare and Beethoven, because that’s where I honestly think they belong.

Working on a new book about the Beatles lyrics made me determined that the British Library should have the world’s best public collection of Beatles manuscripts. I’m really pleased the Cultural Gifts Scheme has helped me make this a reality.

The scheme, administered by Arts Council England, allows individuals or companies to donate pre-eminent items to the nation during their lifetime in return for a reduction in their UK tax liability. Individuals will be able to receive a reduction in their income tax or capital gains tax liabilities of 30% of the value of the object, while companies can receive a reduction in their corporation tax liabilities of 20% of the object’s value.

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: “It’s fantastic that the first treasures to be donated to the nation through the Cultural Gifts Scheme include the hand written lyrics to some of the world’s best known songs, by one of the world’s most loved artists.

Incredibly generous donations like these are testament to the strong culture of philanthropy that exists in Britain today, and I look forward to seeing what other treasures may soon find a home in our national collections as a result of this scheme.

Further information

Published 22 May 2013