BritFlorida profile image

Who was Julia Stanley?

See all 4 photos
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Would the world have been a different place without her?

I believe it would, particularly in one aspect of our lives. I suspect though that the name might not be familiar to a lot of people. In many ways, history has not been kind to this woman, who died an early, tragic death. Her family, and her life, made a difference to so many people and yet she never knew it.

As you can tell from the old photograph, she lived in the twentieth century, being born in 1914 to a normal family - normal for the time, that is. But during her lifetime, attitudes, morals and society itself were all very different in those days.

What would appear normal to us now was looked at differently in those days.Julia was a lively, attractive girl; one of five sisters born into a home that was dominated by their strict father. She died when she was forty four and millions of words have been written about her but many portray her in the wrong light.Let's put the record straight.


See all 4 photos
Source: Wikimedia Commons

In 1938 she married a man called Alf

They had known each other for ten years. They were just young teenagers when they met; Julia was only fourteen. But they became firm friends despite the differences in their backgrounds.

Julia's father, always known as Pop, was a disciplinarian who decided from day one that Alf just wasn't good enough for his daughter. Alf was from an Irish family, which Pop disapproved of, and furthermore was from a poor family.

Alf and Julia had no home of their own and shortly after the marriage, Alf found work (possibly due to Pop's intervention) on an ocean-going liner. That type of job was available in the area as the couple lived in a seaport - Liverpool. It was commonplace for women to live alone or with their families whilst the menfolk were at sea

.Alf sent money home and during one shore leave, in 1940, Julia became pregnant. Almost two years after their marriage, with Alf back at work aboard ship, Julia gave birth to their son who she named John Winston Lennon.

This photograph was taken in 1966 - many years after the events described here.

See all 4 photos
Source: Wikimedia Commons

John

Of course, there's no need for me to explain about John's later life. But when Beatlemania was at its height, the members of the press were constantly looking for stories about the group. Often, these were distorted, sometimes deliberately but sometimes stories were sheer fantasy based on the slenderest of facts.

The Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, was conscious of the group's image and you'll remember that John's wife, and eventually son, were rigorously hidden from the press because the adoration from young girls might be lessened if one of their heroes was a married man.

One of the stories that became distorted over the years was about John's childhood. Teenage fans loved the romantic story about John's fickle and flighty mother who abandoned him as a child, leaving him to be brought up by his Aunt Mimi. Poor John, they thought, and loved him all the more.

In fact, it was poor Julia

  • Julia loved her baby son. He was born into a happy and stable marriage. The fact that her husband was way at sea and that she lived with her parents was not at all unusual in those days. She was musically talented and was a natural entertainer and taught her son to be the same.
  • She was accustomed to collecting Alf's wages every fortnight and this kept mother and son in relative comfort. When John was about a year old however, and went to collect his wage, she was told that he had jumped ship in the States. No-one knew where he was and of course, there was no money.
  • For another year and a half, she heard nothing from her husband. Because she was living in the family home (she briefly moved into another small house owned by the family) she was able to survive and devote herself to bringing up her son. Alf reappeared briefly when John was two and a half. Julia was prepared to have him back, for the sake of her son, but Alf soon disappeared to sea again - again sending no money and no word.

Survival

As time went by, the income of the family home diminished. Pop was now retired and Julia took a series of part time jobs. After two years, with still no word of Alf, and still no money, she had an affair with a soldier.

This was shortly before the end of the war and hardly unusual. Many young women were without their menfolk and affairs of this type were commonplace. But Julia became pregnant.Her family was outraged.The father of the baby was adamant that he would stick by her but there were two problems.

  1. She had no idea where Alf was so there was no way she could divorce him and marry her lover.
  2. Although the father of her baby said that he would stand by her, he wanted nothing to do with John. There was absolutely no way Julia would accept that.

Alf returns

During Julia's pregnancy, Alf unexpectedly showed up. He declared that he would accept the baby as his own. However, he brought no money and no explanation for his recent absence. Very soon, he was back at sea.

The lost baby

What followed seems to be totally cruel to us in this day and age. Julia's father, Pop, insisted that Julia give up her baby for adoption. Now that she was pregnant and couldn't work, and now that Alf was once more goodness-knows-where and sending no money, Julia's and John's welfare was dependant on her family.

She had no choice.

Unbelievably, the practice at the time was for babies for adoption to remain with their mothers for a full six weeks before the adoption took place. Heartbreakingly, the baby she had named Victoria, and who she'd cared for for six weeks, was taken away from her and given to new adoptive parents. But at least she still had her beloved John.

What happened next

  • Julia's pregnancies were never easy. During the time before her daughter's birth, she was grateful to her eldest sister Mimi who would look after John from time to time. Mimi was married, had no children and was comfortably-off, living in a middle class suburban home.
  • Now that John was five, Julia enrolled him into a local school, leaving her able to take a part-time job. She was actually not in the best of states, having only just recovered from giving birth and the heartbreak of giving away her second child. However, with Pop now retired, she was the only source of income. There was still no sign of Alf.
  • Several months later, Julia thought her dreams had come true. She met a lovely man, Bobby, who loved her. He knew all about the baby she had given up and he was very fond of John. Even Pop grudgingly approved of the relationship.
  • Mimi though was outraged. Her sister had disgraced the family by having a baby by a man who wasn't her husband. And now she was blatantly consorting with another man. Mimi, the tough, bossy elder sister, swept John away to her home until Julia came to her senses about her 'immoral relationships'. Now, Julia could only see her son at Mimi's house.

The bad penny

Shortly afterwards, almost as though he had supernatural powers, Alf reappeared. He was horrified to find that Mimi had taken John and in effect, she had kidnapped him. Alf decided to do the same.Mimi allowed Alf to take John out for the afternoon but in fact, he decamped to the seaside town of Blackpool where the two of them stayed with Alf's brother.

When Julia found out she was frantic.She and Bobby tracked them down. There was a showdown and John was asked whether he wanted to be with his mother or his father. With memories of the recent ice-creams, beach visits and funfairs, John declared he wanted to be with his father but soon changed his mind.

Julia and Bobby took John to a tiny apartment that they had rented just a few days previously. There, they could be a family.

Re-enter Mimi

Mimi was furious - and probably embarrassed that she had allowed John to be kidnapped in that way. She was also adamant in her assertion that Julia, as a married woman, was immoral because she was openly living with another man.

Pop was on her side too. With Julia now living with Bobby, there was no-one to look after him in his old age. It was in his interests to break up the relationship too. With his support, Mimi swung into action.

  • Mimi stormed to Julia's apartment. She demanded that John should be given to her. Julia naturally refused. It was Bobby who finally got rid of her by being adamant that John was happy, loved and well cared for. There was no reason for him not to be with his mother.
  • Appalled by the tiny flat, and still furious - especially now she had been spoken to in such a way by her sister's lover - Mimi returned with a social worker. But the social worker agreed with Julia and Bobby. John was well cared for and happy and there was absolutely no need for him to be removed.
  • Mimi was determined to get John back. Now she recruited a senior inspector from the social services department and pointed out that this was a one-bedroomed flat and that a small boy should not be living in such close proximity to a man was wasn't his father. This time, she won. The official determined that John should go back to Mimi until the couple found two bedroomed accommodation.
  • Pop won too because the couple gave up their apartment and moved back to Pop's roomy house where John could have his own room. She immediately went to Mimi's to get John. Mimi refused.
  • However, for the next three years, Pop was happy to have John in the house at weekends and during the school holidays. He even insisted that Mimi take John to the house on a regular basis and Julia visited John there often. He was far from abandoned by his mother who was determined to have him back.

See all 4 photos
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Her influence - and the end

When Pop died, Julia and Bobby moved into a three bedroomed council house. They had two daughters, Julia (see the book above) and Jackie.

John never left Mimi's home to live permanently with his mother and sisters but visited and stayed with them often. He never wanted to leave but despite Bobby regularly assuring him that he was welcome to stay permanently, John was evidently too scared of Mimi to do so.

As he got older, his mother taught him to play the banjo. She would laugh and dance with him. She introduced him to Elvis recordings and the other popular music of the day. When he formed his own band, she would take his half-sisters to see them play and was their greatest fan. She encouraged his musical career and bought him his first guitar. Julia was knocked down by car on July 15th, 1958.

She died instantly. John was seventeen years old.

Further reading

I have read the first two books shown here and both are truly absorbing.

The first one, I would recommend most highly. It is written by his ex-wife, Cynthia who met him when they were both teenagers and shared his life during the Beatle years.

She also tells of her life - and importantly that of their son, Julian - after she and John were divorced. Truly fascinating and thoroughly believable.

© 2014 Jackie Jackson Last updated on September 10, 2014

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Comments? 79 comments

Arachnea profile image

Arachnea 5 months ago from Texas USA Level 6 Commenter

I found this interesting. I'd never known much about the background of any of the members of the beatles.


RobertConnorIII profile image

RobertConnorIII 5 months ago from Michigan

Sad!


Linda BookLady profile image

Linda BookLady 5 months ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA Level 4 Commenter

Fascinating! I like how you presented the information.


lollyj lm profile image

lollyj lm 6 months ago from Washington KS Level 1 Commenter

What a sad, but intriguing story. Very well done. Congrats on LOTD.


DeborahDian profile image

DeborahDian 6 months ago from Orange County, California Level 5 Commenter

This was absolutely fascinating. Although I grew up in the middle of Beatlemania, I didn't know any of this!


favored profile image

favored 6 months ago from USA Level 7 Commenter

After reading this, it sheds light to much of his adulthood. Congratulations on LotD.


aswahayah 6 months ago

Yah very intresting post...


Old Navy Guy profile image

Old Navy Guy 6 months ago Level 3 Commenter

Although I had heard this once before I truly enjoyed reading your rendition. Thanks for sharing


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@philipcaddick: Thank you for reading. Such a sad story, as you say.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@delia-delia: Thank you - it's a very sad story,isn't it?


philipcaddick 6 months ago

Very interesting, quite a sad story, but a good read. Thanks


delia-delia profile image

delia-delia 6 months ago Level 5 Commenter

Congratulations on LOTD! A very interesting and sad story about John's life. Never knew about his mother Julie...


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@goldenrulecomics: Thank you!


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@Ibidii: Isn't it?I guess that attitudes were a lot different in those days. Such a shame.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@Pip Gerard: That's a great article and I love what you wrote about Julia. So many people have dismissed her.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@lisalovers: I'm so glad that you enjoyed reading it.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@anonymous: Thank you!Anything about the Beatles is always fun to write.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@katiesnow: I'm so glad you enjoyed it :)


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@PAINTDRIPS: Thanks for visiting! I'm reading more into the lives of all four Beatles and there'll be more stories coming soon.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@Arachnea: Thank you. I'm sure there'll be more stories to come.


goldenrulecomics profile image

goldenrulecomics 6 months ago Level 3 Commenter

Very nicely done.


goldenrulecomics profile image

goldenrulecomics 6 months ago Level 3 Commenter

Very nicely done.


Ibidii profile image

Ibidii 6 months ago from Northern California Level 6 Commenter

A great man and his loving Mum. Sad that his Aunt and Grandfather could not accept Julia and Bobby at the time. Congratulations on getting LotD!


Pip Gerard profile image

Pip Gerard 6 months ago

great read. ... congrats. I had to write one about my hero too... http://www.squidoo.com/my-hero-john-lennon


lisalovers 6 months ago

hi britfloridaI value the article. Really thank you! Much obliged.


anonymous 6 months ago

Fascinating story. Congratulations on getting LotD!


katiesnow 6 months ago

Very good story, I loved the format, it was easy to read and follow..very enjoyable and I learned something new!


PAINTDRIPS profile image

PAINTDRIPS 6 months ago from Fresno CA Level 5 Commenter

What a great narrative. I didn't know any of this. I was a little "sheltered" from the pop music of the day. My mom thought it would corrupt me.. but I got to hear the Beatles at school. Fascinating.


Arachnea profile image

Arachnea 6 months ago from Texas USA Level 6 Commenter

Excellent lens. I appreciate learning a bit more about so great a performer and musician.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@writerkath: Thanks for reading! I'm glad that it interested you - it's a fascinating story.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@Nancy Hardin: Wonderful - thank you so much!


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@Nancy Hardin: Thank you Nancy for your kind comments. It's a fascinating story, isn't it?


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@Lynn Klobuchar: Thank you so much.I'm glad that you enjoyed it.


writerkath profile image

writerkath 6 months ago Level 3 Commenter

Very interesting! I had never heard the story of John Lennon's family background. Thank you! Contrats on LotD!


Nancy Hardin profile image

Nancy Hardin 6 months ago from Las Vegas, NV Level 7 Commenter

This lens is going on my Hand in Glove With History page and my blog, handinglovewithhistory.blogspot.com.


Nancy Hardin profile image

Nancy Hardin 6 months ago from Las Vegas, NV Level 7 Commenter

This lens certainly deserved the award for LOTD. A great story, showing the strengths and weaknesses of human beings, and of course, the background of John Lennon, who we all knew and loved. Thank you for a terrific lens.


Lynn Klobuchar profile image

Lynn Klobuchar 6 months ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota Level 6 Commenter

This was surprising in so many ways. Thanks for shining a light on this story. Congratulations on LotD! Always something fascinating to read when you publish a new lens!


tobe-green-7 6 months ago

well told


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@sybil watson: Thank you! It's an incredible story of a hard life.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@JenwithMisty: Thanks! I agree - things would be different in several ways.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@firstsquid: Thanks - I'm glad you enjoyed it.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@Faye Rutledge: Thank you so much!


sybil watson profile image

sybil watson 6 months ago Level 5 Commenter

Wow, I had no idea that she had such a difficult life. Congratulations on LOTD!


JenwithMisty profile image

JenwithMisty 6 months ago

Yes, the world would have been a totally different place without her. interesting to think about. Great page! And Congrats on LOTD!


firstsquid profile image

firstsquid 6 months ago

now john lennon meet his mother..congratulations on LotD


Faye Rutledge profile image

Faye Rutledge 6 months ago from Concord VA Level 5 Commenter

Interesting info. Congratulations on LotD!


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@Tim Bader: Thanks so much Tim - I'm glad you enjoyed it.


Tim Bader profile image

Tim Bader 6 months ago from Surrey, UK Level 4 Commenter

Great article, Brit!I had never heard of her before, but had a great "penny drop" moment part way into it - a good read.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@esmonaco: That's so nice of you :)


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@Diana Wenzel: Thank you! Complicated is certainly the word!


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@JoanieMRuppel54: Thank you!


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@Brite-Ideas: Thank you! Yes, I love the film, even though it isn't 100% accurate. (Understandably). I'm still quite haunted by the scene of the actor playing John singing 'In Spite of all the Danger' and thinking about his mother.


esmonaco profile image

esmonaco 6 months ago from Lakewood New York Level 7 Commenter

Just an amazing story!! I never knew any of this, thanks for sharing what you know about history as I do enjoy learning from your work :)


Diana Wenzel profile image

Diana Wenzel 6 months ago from Colorado Level 6 Commenter

I really knew nothing of John's childhood and family situation until reading this review. Family sure can get complicated. Congrats on LotD!


JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

JoanieMRuppel54 6 months ago from Keller, Texas Level 3 Commenter

Thank you for this beautiful narrative of such a well-known player and his family background. Well done and congrats on LOTD!


meggingmad profile image

meggingmad 6 months ago Level 1 Commenter

I love learning about things I didn`t know, I didn`t know about.


Afriendinneed 6 months ago

Hat off to her for living her life even with all the poison that was surrounding her. Men like to think they are in charged but if they didn't have a woman wiping there backsides they would all live in filthy houses and live off anything that fits in the toaster. What doesn't kill u makes u stronger and Mimi sounds like a brave, strong woman! I take my hat off too her for sticking her fingers up to the bigots around her!!


Afriendinneed 6 months ago

@SteveKaye: Pure jealousy and bitterness. You normally find that unhappy people love to spread misery!!


Brite-Ideas profile image

Brite-Ideas 6 months ago from Toronto, Canada Level 7 Commenter

such an intriguing childhood he had - quite amazing considering the legend he would become - one night watching TV I watched 'Nowhere Boy' (a movie based on his childhood as you know) and although I'm sure their were inaccuracies, it was still close enough to give me an idea of what his early years were like - I would never have guessed his had been like this - enjoyed your whole page :) and congrats on LOTD :)


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@yoursfoolie: Well said! That's exactly what Mimi thought - that Julia shouldn't have another man because she was married. DESPITE the fact that her husband was nowhere to be found and had abandoned her and her son. Her relationship with Bobby was lasting and faithful but her sister never accepted it - or their two little girls.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@JohnTannahill: It's astonishing how similar they look, isn't it? There's a myth that John's dad was also an entertainer but as far as I can discover, he wasn't successful.


yoursfoolie profile image

yoursfoolie 6 months ago Level 2 Commenter

Women have consistently been the largest and most oppressed demographic of all. What was she supposed to do? Live her whole life without any joy or affection just because one person abandoned her?


JohnTannahill profile image

JohnTannahill 6 months ago from Somewhere in England Level 1 Commenter

Didn't John take after his dad?


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@SteveKaye: So true, sadly.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@Heidi Vincent: A very good point. When we have children we don't get an instruction manual. We just have to do the best we can.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@Merrci: Thank you. All families have their skeletons, I think.


SteveKaye profile image

SteveKaye 6 months ago Level 5 Commenter

Unbelievable story. I'm amazed by how some people can meddle in other people's lives.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@David Stone1: John was 'Mimi-fied'. He couldn't see the situation from a mother's point of view. As you say, he probably never realized. He abandoned his own son, Julian, but maybe after Sean was born, he understood more about parenthood.


Heidi Vincent profile image

Heidi Vincent 6 months ago from GRENADA Level 7 Commenter

People seldom remember the hardships women faced in raising children, or give credence to their nurturing support. Fitting tribute to Julia Stanley!


Merrci profile image

Merrci 6 months ago from Oregon's Southern Coast Level 8 Commenter

This was such an interesting read! What a great way to share it too. Never knew John's family background. It must have been a difficult time for all. Thanks so much for putting this together!


David Stone1 profile image

David Stone1 6 months ago from New York City Level 7 Commenter

Family dramas have all kinds of sides, but I'm most influenced by what John wrote. It doesn't square with this version. John's words: "Mama, you had me, but I never had you." It seems, from John's point of view as an adult, Julia's interests were mostly elsewhere. On the White Album, he had a song with his mother's name, about a dreamy beauty he loved, but nowhere is it suggested that she loved him. He never seemed to resolve the conflict within himself until he settled with Yoko.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@aka-rms: Thank you Robin! Because John was seventeen when she died, he was just becoming his own man and was on the verge of his phenomenal career. I'm sure that they would have had a wonderful relationship had she lived.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@ecogranny: Thank you - the book shows that she truly did suffer because her son was so cruelly taken away from her. Even though she saw him often, it was heartbreaking for her that he didn't live with her. But without her influence, I doubt none of us would have ever heard of John Lennon.


aka-rms profile image

aka-rms 6 months ago from USA Level 3 Commenter

Fascinating!


ecogranny profile image

ecogranny 6 months ago from San Francisco Level 7 Commenter

Absolutely fascinating. Thank you for introducing me to the mother of one of the finest rock musicians of the last century. Her story, as you tell it, brings tears to my eyes for the heartache she suffered.


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@Joanne Reid: Thank you. It's such a shame that the media showed her in the wrong light for so many years.


Joanne Reid profile image

Joanne Reid 6 months ago from Prince Edward Island/Arizona Level 3 Commenter

What a story and how wonderful that you shared this with us!!!!


BritFlorida profile image

BritFlorida 6 months ago from Fort Lauderdale Hub Author

@OhMe: Thank you! It truly is such an interesting story.


OhMe profile image

OhMe 6 months ago from Pendleton, SC Level 6 Commenter

Wow, this was so interesting and most of it I had never heard. I have got to read this book so will add it to my growing list. Thanks for this wonderful review.

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