When John Lennon met Cynthia Powell in 1958, he was a doe-eyed 18-year-old art college student in Liverpool, but, during the course of their ten years spent together, he evolved into one of the most recognisable men on the planet. Famously, the two grew apart rather than together and their marriage came crashing down in bitter fashion. The way in which it ended between the pair makes it easy to forget the concrete love they shared in the early stages of their relationship, a notion which is proven by this beautiful Christmas love letter that was penned by Lennon.
Their unconventional relationship would blossom just before the summer holidays in 1958 and the first step which took them from classmates to lovers came when she accepted Lennon’s invitation to join him at the Ye Cracke pub after a college party. However, despite the best intentions, it was never the most functional relationship. Powell was reluctant at first about being romantically involved with Lennon and even pretended to be engaged to a fellow student at the art college. This made Lennon furious and he allegedly shouted at Cynthia: “I didn’t ask you to fucking marry me, did I?”.
Even after that incident, she accepted the offer of a date but Lennon, now enacting one of his famous unruly moods, refused to speak to Powell until she was about to leave. He allegedly grabbed her by the hand, begged her to stay and they then spent the night together. It would be wrong to discuss their relationship and ignore the toxic behaviour that Lennon showed throughout the early stages of their time together. He was a fiercely jealous young man and, on one occasion, he viciously slapped her face after growing infuriated that she had danced with a male friend.
Following this act of violence, the couple broke up for three months but rekindled their romance towards the end of 1958 after she accepted Lennon’s repeated apologies over the incident. “He saw me dancing with his best friend Stuart, my best friend Stuart. That made him see red at that time,” Cynthia later recalled. “But it wasn’t until the following day and he’d been thinking about it all night and he caught me outside the ladies loos in the college basement, and just smacked me one. And I hit my head on the back of the pipes and he just walked off.”
The break-up made Lennon evaluate his own behaviour towards Cynthia and, once she accepted his apology, he tried his best to make up for his previous odious conduct. Sending letters was Lennon’s preferred method of communication and Vanity Fair noted some of the most poignant ones that he sent to Cynthis during their time together. 1958 was the year that they spent their first Christmas as a couple and Lennon sent his beau an eight-page long letter that professed his unwavering love for Cynthia. On the sixth page, he wrote from the heart: “I love you so don’t leave me I love you so don’t leave don’t leave me I love you Cynthia.”
The next letter that was unearthed was written in 1962 and this was the year that the couple took their relationship up a level when they tied the knot. Although their marriage was born more out of a necessity than anything else, John’s reported reaction to Cynthia discovering she was pregnant with their son was an unorthodox proposal, saying: “There’s only one thing for it Cyn – we’ll have to get married.”
“It’s Sunday afternoon. I’ve just wakened up,” John begins the letter by stating. “Paul’s leaping about on my head (he’s in a bunk on top of me and he’s snoring!) I can hardly get in a position to write it’s so cramped below stairs captain. Shurrup McCartney! Grunt grunt.” He then gleefully adds, “Oh yes! I forgot to tell you I’ve got a GEAR suede overcoat with a belt so I’ll look just like you now.”
Judging by how Lennon lustfully signs off this message, it’s no surprise that Cynthia ended up pregnant with Julian in 1962. The Beatle concluded his letter by saying that he’d rather be spending his time “on the way to your flat with the Sunday papers and choccies and a throbber.”
Their marriage would eventually be marred by Lennon’s countless affairs that were the result of him taking full advantage of the lifestyle that was available following the success of The Beatles. The fame made him a different person to the one that first met Cynthia in 1958 and, in 1968, their divorce would be finalised. However, these letters do prove that despite Lennon’s infidelities and unsavoury behaviour towards her — they did share a beautiful bond in those early years they spent together.