Cynthia Lennon

Cynthia Lillian Powell was born on 10 September 1939 in Blackpool, Lancashire. She was John Lennon's first wife until their marriage broke down in 1968.

John and Cynthia Lennon

She was born to Charles and Lillian Powell, and had two older brothers, Anthony (Tony) and Charles. Cynthia was raised in the well-to-do area of Hoylake, Wirral, across the river Mersey from Liverpool.

At the age of 12 she gained a place at the Junior Art School, near to the Liverpool College of Art. Before her father died of lung cancer in 1956, he told her she would have to support her mother, and couldn't go to the art college. Lillian Powell, meanwhile, eased the financial pressure without her husband by renting out their master bedroom to four apprentice electricians.

Cynthia started at Liverpool College of Art in September 1957. A diligent student, she fell into a relationship with a boy called Barry whom she described as the "Romeo of Hoylake". Although they discussed marriage, their relationship waned when he was unfaithful to her.

With John Lennon

John and Cynthia Lennon, 1950sShe met John Lennon in a lettering class at college, when he tapped her on the back and said, "Hi, I'm John". Although he wasn't her normal type, Cynthia felt drawn towards him. She changed her style of dressing, and often didn't wear her glasses. She also dyed her hair blonde after hearing him comment favourably about another girl who looked like Brigitte Bardot - when Lennon saw her, he called out: "Get you, Miss Hoylake!"

They began a relationship before the summer holidays in 1958, when Lennon invited her to the Ye Cracke pub with him and some friends after a college party. She pretended to be engaged to Barry, which angered Lennon - he stormed off, shouting: "I didn't ask you to fucking marry me, did I?" Although she went to the pub, Lennon ignored her until she was about to leave, whereupon he grabbed her hand, took her to a room rented by Stuart Sutcliffe, and the pair had sex for the first time.

The early days of their relationship were turbulent. They would often have sex in alleys or doorways, and Lennon often showed jealousy towards her. He once slapped her face after she had dances with Sutcliffe, which led to them breaking up for three months until Lennon apologised profusely.

He saw me dancing with his best friend Stuart, my best friend Stuart. That made him see red at that time. But it wasn't until the following day and he'd been thinking about it all night and he caught me outside the ladies loos in the college basement, and just smacked me one. And I hit my head on the back of the pipes and he just walked off.
Cynthia Lennon

In addition to Lennon's anger, Cynthia also had to contend with his aunt Mimi. She was hostile towards Cynthia, and once referred to her as "a gangster's moll". Upon The Beatles' return from their first trip to Hamburg in 1960, Lennon bought a chicken for Mimi. She angrily threw this at Lennon, along with a mirror, for buying Cynthia a suede coat.

Cynthia accompanied the band to Hamburg, along with Paul McCartney's girlfriend Dot Rhone. Finding it hard to cope with the long hours kept by the band, the two women began taking the Preludin pills used by The Beatles to stay awake.

It was magic, it was the first time we'd left the country. Especially going on our own on a boat train and not knowing what we were going to see or do or where we were going to stay. But when we got there it was just fantastic we had the greatest time. I think we all grew up in Hamburg, in terms of experience and seeing the rest of the world. It's a fantastic city.
Cynthia Lennon

On her return Cynthia found out that her mother was emigrating to Canada. She asked Mimi if she could rent a room at 251 Menlove Avenue ('Mendips'), which she agreed to, on condition that Cynthia also did chores around the house.

After leaving the College of Art Cynthia trained to become a teacher. When The Beatles returned to Hamburg in 1962 she moved out of Mendips and eventually settled in a bedsit at 93 Garmoyle Road, where she was later joined by Dot Rhone.

In July 1962 Cynthia learned that she had failed one of her teacher training exams, and also that she was pregnant. She and Lennon had never used contraception - the couple reportedly never discussed it. His response to the news was: "There's only one thing for it Cyn - we'll have to get married."

This they did, though not without fierce opposition from Mimi, who threatened never to speak to Lennon again. He and Cynthia married on 23 August 1962 at the Mount Pleasant Register Office, Liverpool.

On the wedding night, Lennon played in Chester with The Beatles. The marriage remained a secret during the band's early years, at the behest of manager Brian Epstein, to avoid the risk of alienating their fans.

During the pregnancy Brian Epstein allowed John and Cynthia to use his flat at 36 Faulkner Street, though they moved back to Mendips before the birth. John Charles Julian Lennon (known as Julian, and named after John's late mother), was born in Sefton General Hospital on 8 April 1963.

37 responses on “Cynthia Lennon

  1. Cameron McIntosh

    There was something about Cynthia I always liked. She seems (and I am sure she is) like a very sweet person. I was very disappointed when they got divorced. I felt Cynthia got the short end of the stick she deserved more. I would love to meet her someday.

  2. carl anthony sole

    I watched just now the real john lennon story, and i have to say that i was very touched listening to Cynthia and all of John’s family on this program. It’s just sad that he didnt make it back from U.S. to the homeland of good England to be with is family and friends once again. Cynthia is so nice and sweet lady.

  3. Louise Joles

    The fans always loved Cynthia. I often wondered if John ever loved her or just thought he was doing the right thing in marrying her because of the baby. The records show he did not treat her well. Cynthia is a lady of intelligence, beauty and class, but just like Paul and Jane Asher, infidelity tore the union apart.

  4. Barbara

    Hard for any marriage to last between a very famous person and a person from their former life, before they were famous. How could anyone compete with all that adulation, and people throwing themselves at your partner on a daily basis.I remember being really disappointed when John and Cynthia split, even though it was really none of my business. Cynthia was the ‘girl next door’ after all, a bit like me…

  5. Leonard Meyer

    Cynthia comes across as very sweet, endearing, and relatable. That was a very kind of Paul to offer his support to both she and to Julian for whom he composed the immortal Hey Jude. I wonder if Paul continues to have contact with her. I would like to think that he does but have come across no evidence that he does.

    1. Lew Levin

      He did. His early love songs were for Cynthia. There was jealousy in some, such as “You can’t do that”. He wrote about whatever he was experiencing at the time.

  6. David D. Cadena

    It’s really sad that it ended up the way it did between John, Julian and Cynthia.

    Julian seems like he’s finally trying to put it all behind him which I’m sure is not an easy task after so many years of neglect.

    I’m sure you’ll be ok Jules…keep your head up!

    Dave Cadena- Tucson, Arizona- U.S.A.

      1. Fer

        After John and Yoko’s son, Sean, was born, John spent all his time with them and almost entirely forget about Julian. It wasn’t until years later that Julian and John began to reconcile their relationship, but soon after that John was killed.

  7. judith

    Ron Howard will be directing a documentary on the early Beatles…he says he will be interviewing Paul, Ringo, Georges wife and Yoko…….this documentary is on the very early Beatles..Cynthia Lennon would be the one to interview…..NOT Yoko……..enough said

  8. Silvia

    I agree with Judith that guy should definitely interview Cynthia and perhaps, Pattie Boyd since they were the Beatles’ early wives. He should try Jane Asher as well. Yoko? Why?!

  9. Deb

    Yoko wants to be the center of attention and does not want the world to acknowledge that John had another life, another wife, and another son. And she still is that way.

  10. Sarah

    I recently read Cynthia’s 2005 autobiography and was so moved by it. She seems such a lovely beautiful person. So loving and caring to John and the total opposite to Yoko. I find it so sad that they split up and of course that the tragedy of what happened to John prevented them ever becoming close again. I do think John would have come to realise how badly he’d treated Cyn and that they could have been great friends at least.

  11. Hitolo Bua

    When John was alive I always used to play Beatles songs when I was a kid, their songs are very good. I read a book about John and Cynthia who was very beautifully then, if John and Cynthia were married they are here today…

  12. Niky

    I’d like to see a biopic, they really need one, done right. Nowhere Boy was good but it wasn’t quite accurate.
    You can tell John loved Cynthia but was really insecure.

  13. Victoria

    I know John is no saint and i’m not saying he was blameless but I bet Yoko was whispering poison into John’s ear about Cyn cheating on him with just as many blokes as he has been with women. Adding fuel to the fire knowing John’s jealousy issue. Yoko always wants the spotlight. Sorry but it will always be John and Yoko not Yoko and John. She also can’t stand that John had a life before her and she wants to delete it. To her there is no Cyn and Julian. Yoko is and always will be poison.

  14. Maggie Rae

    Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but believe John loved Cynthia deeply. I don’t think he ever stopped loving her; however, he was such a complex person with many unresolved issues until he was just incapable of understanding his own feelings. So sad. But I believe Cynthia knew and understood John completely; she, till this day, knew and knows that John did love her the same way that she loved him.

  15. ForgetScowl

    John was an emotionally bitter & battered boy by the women in his early life upon which begat his years of misogynistic treatment back at toward women. After all that damage, I think it took a lot of LSD and Yoko to turn John Lennon around to the honor & beauty of women to which he found to be true.

  16. Chantelle Adlington

    Some people do say that John never loved Cynthia and that he only married her because she got pregnant. These are both Un true.
    John said himself in 1974 that he did love Cynthia by saying “It was said I never loved Cyn. That’s far from the truth. We were young, big headed and got into physical relationship too soon. Perhaps if we took things slower we would have made it. I know we would have made it”. Yes John did say that so he even admitted that he loved her.
    Secondly about the marriage because of pregnancy thing again this is false because when he was telling Mimi that he was going to marry Cynthia He said “You don’t understand, Mimi. I love Cyn and I WANT to marry her”. Also in 1961 while in Hamburg a whole YEAR before she got pregnant John said to her “perhaps we should get engaged” but Cyn said to wait longer because their relationship was going good.
    I truly believe that John always loved Her even when they weren’t together anymore as she was his FIRST TRUE love so how could he not love her?
    And in 1967 John wanted to try and make their marriage work and have more children with her but no Yoko had to ruin it. Why couldn’t she just accept that he was married and had a child instead of trying to take John away from Cynthia and makde Julian fatherless when he was 5 years old? I think that what she did was really unfair to Cyn and Julian, lets face it. Cynthia was and always will be John’s best wife. She cared for him deeply and loved him unconditionally unlike yoko who Manipulated John and told him what to do and only wanted his money. It’s Cynthia and Julian I feel sorry for. Sorry this is so long haha By the way I may sound like an old person typing this but I’m actually a 16 year old girl. I know I should have other things to worry about but I have very strong opinions over this. I wil always love John and Cynthia as a couple.

    1. Julian

      Chantelle, I read your comment. The biggest thing I’m taking from it is that you seem to have some assumptions against Yoko.
      Now, there’s no doubt that John & Cynthia loved each other “like mad” the first couple of years they were together. But over time as The Beatles got more popular and as John got more into drugs the relationship became more distant. Cynthia still might’ve felt big love for John, but I think that wasn’t reciprocated.
      When he met Yoko, he felt like he met his artistic equivalent. She opened him up to so many things. Without Yoko we wouldn’t have the song “Imagine”, as it was inspired by her book “Grapefruit”. When you think about it in hindsight, John & Cyn’s relationship simply became too conventional, too normal. There was no fresh challenge for John to keep him interested. That was a thing with all four of the guys. When they did one thing, they quickly became bored & wanted to move on.
      In many ways, Yoko was a more perfect fit for such a multi-faceted character like John.

  17. castironshore

    I really think cynthia thought she could help john, she knew all about the pain he was in… god knows she bore the brunt of it at times. But i believe their love for each other was genuine.

    I just think lennon outgrew her…. these were a very unusual set of circumstances for 2 people to live in. Not everyone is cut out for hard drugs,meditation,crazy diets and radical politics.

    Cynthia seemed a lovely woman,and she was devoted to julian. I was sorry to hear of her passing.

  18. Richard

    Both Cynthia and Yoko are written into the Beatles story (which, oddly enough, continues to mushroom). We all love Cynthia and many vilify Yoko, but I don’t. Their stories must be taken in context with the times we all shared. My sympathies for rejection and loss lay with Julian and Sean, yet I see Cynthia as having borne the brunt of abusive behavior. Keep in mind, Yoko suffered loss as well, and while she has a fortune in cash to use as she sees fit, she has the title of widow as well.
    In short, we can sympathize with Cynthia and Julian, but include Yoko and Sean in our grieving.

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