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Display of Unseen Paul McCartney Lyrics at the British Library

Visit the British Library to see the original handwritten lyrics for some of the most popular songs of all time. The free display in the BL’s Entrance Hall showcases previously unseen material, including lyrics and photographs from Paul McCartney’s personal archive. (Watch a quick video tour here).


Get to see unique exhibits belonging to one of the world’s most successful performers, musicians, and songwriters. It’s a perfect opportunity to visit the accompanying Beatles’ lyrics featured in the Treasures Gallery. The exhibition’s highlights are part of the newly-launched Paul McCartney - The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present book published by Allen Lane in 2021 that covers 154 songs.

Paul at home with his original "Magic Piano" © Mary McCartney (photo source: www.bl.uk)
Paul at home with his original "Magic Piano" ©Mary McCartney (photo source: www.bl.uk)

Discover printed photographs, handwritten lyrics, and original memorabilia from every stage of McCartney’s career, from his earliest compositions to legendary Beatles and Wings pieces, to his present solo albums. Some documents on display have never been revealed to the public before. Visitors will also have the opportunity to get a series of unique, insightful glimpses into the stories, creative processes, and people behind decades of writing famous hits.

The handwritten lyrics for "Yesterday" (British Library/P
The handwritten lyrics for "Yesterday" (British Library/PA, photo source: www.independent.ie)

Among the 35 exhibits you’ll find:

  • Original memorabilia like postcard of The Beatles in Hamburg and an early Beatles songlist.

  • Authentic handwritten lyrics for Hey Jude, Jenny Wren, and Pipes of Peace which have never been seen before;

  • A selection of photographs taken by Paul McCartney’s daughter Mary, his brother Mike, and his wife Linda. One photo is of him playing guitar with John Lennon at home in Liverpool.

  • An original illustration by Sir Paul McCartney for the "Put It There" single.

Speaking to the PA news agency, about Sir Paul's "freestyle" approach to songwriting, Greg Buzwell, curator of contemporary literary archives added: “Paul always wrote from inspiration. He’d just see something and say, ‘I will write something about that’.”

The British Library Entrance Hall
The British Library Entrance Hall (Photo Ina/WithinLondon)

“Handwritten drafts of song lyrics have a special quality – they show that initial spark of creativity – and this is a chance for everyone to see the workings and learn the stories behind the songs of one of the world’s most successful songwriters and performers. We hope this free display inspires new audiences – young and old.” (Andy Linehan, Curator of Popular Music Recordings at the British Library).


📅 The Paul McCartney Lyrics display is open to everyone until 13 March 2022.

📍 Where: The British Library, 96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB

🎫 Admission is FREE.

🚇 The closest Tube stations are King's Cross St. Pancras, Euston, and Euston Square.

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