Lennon was born in war-time England, on 9 October 1940 at Liverpool Maternity Hospital, to Julia and Alfred Lennon, a merchant seamanwho was away at the time of his son's birth. He was named John Winston Lennon after his paternal grandfather, John "Jack" Lennon, and then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill. His father was often away from home but sent regular pay cheques to9 Newcastle Road, Liverpool, where Lennon lived with his mother, but the cheques stopped when he went absent without leave in February 1944. When he eventually came home six months later, he offered to look after the family, but Julia—by then pregnant with another man's child—rejected the idea.After her sister, Mimi Smith, twice complained to Liverpool's Social Services, Julia handed thecare of Lennon over to her. In July 1946, Lennon's father visited Smith and took his son to Blackpool, secretly intending to emigrate to New Zealand with him. Julia followed them—with her partner at the time, 'Bobby' Dykins—and after a heated argument his father forced the five-year-old to choose between them. Lennon twice chose his father, but as his mother walked away, he began to cry andfollowed her. It would be 20 years before he had contact with his father again.
251 Menlove Avenue, the home of George and Mimi Smith, where Lennon lived for most of his childhood and adolescence
Throughout the rest of his childhood and adolescence, he lived with his aunt and uncle, Mimi andGeorge Smith, who had no children of their own, at Mendips, 251 Menlove Avenue, Woolton.His auntbought him volumes of short stories, and his uncle, a dairyman at his family's farm, bought him a mouth organ and engaged him in solving crossword puzzles. Julia visited Mendips on a regular basis, and when he was 11 years old he often visited her at 1 Blomfield Road, Liverpool, where she played him Elvis Presley records, and taught him the banjo, learning how to play "Ain't That a Shame"by Fats Domino.
In September 1980 he talked about his family and his rebellious nature:
Part of me would like to be accepted by all facets of society and not be this loudmouthed lunatic musician. But I cannot be what I am not. Because of my attitude, all the other boys' parents ... instinctively recognised what I was, which was a troublemaker, meaning I did not conform and I would influencetheir kids, which I did. ... I did my best to disrupt every friend's home ... Partly, maybe, it was out of envy that I didn't have this so-called home, but I really did ... There were five women who were my family. Five strong, intelligent women. Five sisters. Those women were fantastic ... that was my first feminist education ... One happened to be my mother ... she just couldn't deal with life. Shehad a husband who ran away to sea and the war was on and she couldn't cope with me, and when I was four-and-a-half, I ended up living with her elder sister ... the fact that I wasn't with my parents made me see that parents are not gods.
He regularly visited his cousin, Stanley Parkes, who lived in Fleetwood. Seven years Lennon's senior, Parkes took him on trips, and to localcinemas. During the school holidays, Parkes often visited Lennon with Leila Harvey, another cousin, often travelling to Blackpool two or three times a week to watch shows. They would visit the Blackpool Tower Circus and see artists such as Dickie Valentine, Arthur Askey,Max Bygraves and Joe Loss, with Parkes recalling that Lennon particularly liked George Formby. After Parkes's family moved to Scotland,the three cousins often spent their school holidays together there. Parkes recalled, "John, cousin Leila and I were very close. From Edinburgh we would drive up to the family croft at Durness, which was from about the time John was nine years old until he was about 16." He was 14 years old when his uncle George died of a liver haemorrhage on 5 June 1955 (aged 52).
Lennon was raised as...