The British Library has acquired the private archives – containing notebooks, videos and photographs – of Hunter Davies, the author of the only authorized Beatles biography to date.
Davies spent 18 months with the Fab Four and had unprecedented access to John Lennon, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Sir Ringo Starr as he wrote his 1968 book.
He was present at significant points in the band’s nearly decade, including their performance of All You Need Is Love during Our World in June 1967, the first live worldwide televised link.
The collection includes Davies’ notebook containing unpublished sketches of Harrison and Lennon by Sir Paul, his typewritten drafts of The Beatles: The Authorized Biography with handwritten commentary by Lennon’s Aunt Mimi, and Super 8 video footage of his family on vacation in Portugal with Sir Paul and Linda McCartney.
Also included in the acquisition are Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s typed notes from 1962 on how the band should present themselves, including what they should wear when in public.
The items will be on display alongside other Beatles-related items at the British Library’s Sir John Ritblat Gallery in London.
Davies, also a journalist and broadcaster, said: “The further we get away from The Beatles, the bigger they get.
“I never thought that all these years later my scruffy notebooks would be of such interest – and I’m delighted that they’re being made available to a wider audience of Beatles fans and scholars by through the British Library.”
Greg Buzwell, Curator of Contemporary Literary Archives at the British Library, said: “We are delighted to have acquired Hunter Davies’ archive of his biography.
“His collection of notebooks, ephemera and photographs offers us a fascinating insight into the career of the Beatles at their peak.
“The archives also provide a unique record of how Hunter wrote what remains the band’s only authorized biography.
“Given unparalleled access to John, Paul, George and Ringo, as well as other influential figures in their lives, Hunter’s research notes for his book are an important addition to the library’s collections and offer perspective raw and first-hand on how the Beatles became icons of the 1960s counterculture and changed the face of popular music forever.
To mark the acquisition, Davies will recall the writing of the biography and offer insight into his archive at an event at the British Library and online on November 11.