Until now, Paul McCartney has always maintained that the subject of The Beatles' Eleanor Rigby was a fictional character. Various theories involving gravestones and wine dealers have been offered, but the former Beatles' latest charity donation may have given the game away…
At first, McCartney claimed he 'borrowed' the first name from Help! Actress Eleanor Bron and the surname from wine-dealers Rigby & Sons Ltd. It was not until the 1980s when a grave of an Eleanor Rigby was discovered in Woolton, Liverpool. The graveyard was a popular sunbathing spot for a young Lennon and McCartney in 1957.
Phil Norman's John Lennon biography - Lennon: The Life - recounts the tombstone's inscription:
THE BELOVED WIFE OF THOMAS WOODS
AND GRANDDAUGHTER OF THE ABOVE
DIED 10th OCTOBER 1939, AGED 44 YEARS
Norman also recalls how John Lennon would tell his Aunt Mimi that he was comforted by the fact that Eleanor Rigby "wasn't gone forever... just asleep." McCartney, on the other hand, admitted that the lyric could have been a product of subconscious, but still not deliberate.
Now, 42-years after the song's original release, McCartney's given the Sunbeams Trust charity a page from a Corporation Of Liverpool accounts book dated 1911. The page includes a signature of a 16-year-old E Rigby, then a scullery maid at the old City Hospital in Parkhill.
If this E Rigby is the real deal, it's a strange way for Paul McCartney to admit the truth. Still, such a historic piece of paper will almost certainly raise the roof at the Fame Bureau's auction on 27 November. Expect it to fetch more than Paul's head, at least…