Julia Stanley: Which version do you believe?
Julia Stanley will go down in history. But her life is surrounded by myths and legends. What is the truth? Let’s look at the facts.
She was born as one of five sisters in Liverpool in 1914. She wasn’t from a wealthy family but they were not poor either. After the death of the girls’ mother, the father ruled over the household with an iron fist.
When Julia was fourteen, she met a boy of about her same age and they formed an immediate rapport. They remained friends for years despite the fact that her father didn’t approve of the lad.
Alf had been brought up in a children’s home and wasn’t seen as being a suitable companion. The girls’ father tried hard to maintain high standards,including that of his daughters’ morality. But Julia and Alf remained friends.
Over ten years after they had first me, they were married. She didn’t tell her familyin advance because she knew they (particularly her father) would have objected.So she presented them with a fait accompli. On her marriage, she became Mrs Lennon.
Julia was the mother of John Lennon
Because her family thought that he was a good-for-nothing, Alf signed up for the Merchant Navy working aboard ship as a steward. Julia discovered that she was pregnant. Alf came home infrequently and at first, he sent money to support his wife and child but the money dried up, as did Alf’s visits.
Most of us are familiar with the story of John’s upbringing.It has been widely reported that his mother ‘abandoned’ him and he was brought up by an aunt. It’s certainly the case that he went to live with his Aunt Mimi in a posh,Liverpool suburb, but the truth is that she wrenched him away from Julia (Mimi was childless). Julia was distraught. She saw John whenever she could and pined for his constantly, despite the myth that John never saw his mother during his boyhood.
She and Alf never divorced and Julia found happiness with another man; the couple had two daughters. The eldest, also called Julia, describes her childhood – and the extent to which her brother was involved – in her book.
She also describes the events of her mother’s early death. Julia had been to see her sister Mimi – John was with his sisters at Julia’s home – and as she was crossing the road, was hit by a car. She did not survive and died at the age of forty-four.
She didn’t live to see John become famous and she also didn’t live long enough to deny the accepted legend that she was a terrible,promiscuous woman who abandoned her son.
What is the truth about Julia Lennon?
Legend tells us that John suffered greatly because he had been ‘abandoned’ by his mother. And yet he was born in the early stages of the Second World War. When he was growing up, there were thousands of other children in Britain who had lost one or both parents and were being brought up by relatives.
John was seventeen when his mother died. Paul McCartney had also lost his mother when he was only fourteen. Sadly in the days of wartime and inadequate medical knowledge, losing a parent was not uncommon. This is not to undermine the distress Lennon surely felt at the death of his mother but legend has invariably ‘blamed’ Julia’s ‘negligent’ mothering for the fact that John had problems throughout his life. And it must be said that John himself did little to deny the myth.
It’s convenient to be able to blame your parents for your own shortcomings and failures in life. Am I being too harsh?