Handwritten Beatles lyrics donated to the British Library

The collection includes this early draft of Strawberry Fields Forever
The collection includes this early draft of Strawberry Fields Forever (Image credit: Sony Music)

A collection of scraps of paper jotted on by The Beatles, including letters and original versions of song lyrics, have been donated to the British Library by Beatles biographer Hunter Davies.

The papers - valued at just under £1million - include early handwritten versions of In My Life, Strawberry Fields Forever and She Said She Said, as well as a letter from a young (and drunk) John Lennon to Stuart Sutcliffe and a postcard sent to Davies from Lennon while The Beatles were in India.

Some of the items have been on loan to the British Library for a number of years, but this is the first time Davies' collection has been handed over in its entirety.

"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," said Davies. "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 Cultural Gifts Scheme allows individuals to gift items of cultural significance to the British nation in return for tax benefits. This is the first time that the scheme has been used, with Davies generating over £300,000 worth of tax breaks over the coming years in thanks for his donation.

“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," said Culture Minister Ed Vaizey. "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.”

For more information, visit the official British Library website.