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‘I wrote A Spaniard in the Works with a bottle of Johnny Walker. That’s why I didn’t write any more. Because I thought if it takes a bottle for Johnny Walker every night ­- not a whole bottle, I mean, but having a bottle to loosen up, then it’s not working like it did before.' - John Lennon, 1980

A-Spaniard-in-the-Works-book-John-Lennon--e1518522248503

A Spaniard in the Works is a nonsense book by English musician John Lennon, first published on 24 June 1965. The book consists of nonsensical stories and drawings similar to the style of his previous book, 1964's In His Own Write. The name is a pun on the expression "a spanner in the works".

On the second film of the Beatles Help! John goes to a bookcase and gets his book A Spaniard In The Works. It also appears on many photos of the Beatles in John's hands. The book blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction.

Sales of the book were lower than Lennon's first book, with 100,000 copies bought in the three months following publication.

Background[]

While some of John Lennon's first book, In His Own Write, had been written years earlier, he mostly wrote A Spaniard in the Works over the course of 1964. Beatles road manager Neil Aspinall recalled Lennon writing some of the book in Paris in January 1964 – predating the 23 March 1964 publication of In His Own Write – and bandmate George Harrison recalled Lennon writing while the two holidayed with their partners, Pattie Boyd and Cynthia Lennon, in Tahiti in May 1964. Harrison, Boyd and Cynthia contributed lines, with Lennon sometimes inquiring of them for words that would work better in a particular sentence. During the same holiday, Lennon occupied himself by reading the books left on their private boat, including a complete set of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. Recognising the formula the stories employed, he spent three weeks writing a parody.

When most of the book was complete, the publisher, Jonathan Cape, requested more material from Lennon. To encourage him, they sent an Italian dictionary, which Lennon read through and found "a howl on its own". Despite further publisher requests that some material be removed or changed, Lennon argued for everything to be kept so as to maintain the work's spontaneity.

Content[]

Jonathan Cape published A Spaniard in the Works in the UK on 24 June 1965, retailing for 10s 6d. Publication in the US followed on 1 July. Less inhibited than In His Own Write in terms of both writing style and length, some of the book's pieces run for five or six pages, including the Sherlock Holmes parody "The Singularge Experience of Miss Anne Duffield", which runs nine pages. The book has 56 pieces, including twelve prose pieces, six poems and 38 drawings. A piece titled "The General Erection" satirises the UK's 1964 general election.

The book includes numerous references to racial minorities, as well as characters with deformities and disabilities. The title piece, for example, opens: "Jesus El Pifco was a foreigner and he knew it ... a garlic eating, stinking, little yellow greasy fascist bastard catholic Spaniard." In the piece "Our Dad", a father is kicked out of his home by his sons:

"You don't want me around," he said,

"I'm old and crippled too."

We didn't have the heart to say

"You're bloody right it's true."

Of the book's drawings, one depicts two street buskers, both wearing signs, one of whose states "I Am Blind" while the other reads "I Can See Quite Clearly". Another drawing depicts a large man with glasses, sitting in a chair looking at a four legged green monster.

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