The original handwritten score for the Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby” is to be sold at auction, alongside the deeds of the grave of the woman said to have been immortalised by the Fab Four.
“Each item is fantastic, unique and of significant historical importance in itself, so to have both come up at the same time is an incredible coincidence,” said Paul Fairweather from Omega Auctions, which is selling the items.
As for how and why this is a thing, The Guardian explains that the law usually gives people or families an “exclusive right of burial” for a period of 99 years when they buy a specific grave space, with Eleanor Rigby’s grandmother apparently purchasing the spot in 1915. However, nobody new can be buried in that same spot until they buy the rights and wait until 75 years have passed since the last person was buried in it. According to the records, the last person placed in this grave was buried in 1949, so as The Guardian says, “whoever buys the deeds could be buried alongside the Rigby family in seven years’ time.”
“I expect there to be fierce bidding from across the globe,” he said.
The score, expected to fetch £20,000 ($26,000, 22,000 euros), is written in pencil by the Beatles’s late producer George Martin and signed by both Martin and Paul McCartney. It also includes notes specifying that it was to be recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studio number two and that four violins, two violas and two cellos were to be used. “Eleanor Rigby” was released in 1966 as the B-side to “Yellow Submarine”, and depicts its heroine as “wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door”.
McCartney previously said the name Eleanor was inspired by actress Eleanor Bron, who starred in the Beatles film “Help!” in 1965, and that Rigby came from the name of a wine merchant. It emerged in the 1980s that the name is inscribed on a headstone in St Peter’s churchyard in Woolton, Liverpool, where McCartney met John Lennon at a party in 1957. The two Beatles also revealed that they used to take short cuts through the church grounds.
According to the grave, Eleanor Rigby died in 1939 at the age of 44. But McCartney has stayed true to his story, saying in 2008 that “Eleanor Rigby is a totally fictitious character that I made up. If someone wants to spend money buying a document to prove a fictitious character exists, that’s fine with me,” McCartney said at the time.
The deeds of the grave will be sold in a lot that includes a miniature Bible, dated 1899, with the name Elenor Rigby handwritten inside, and are expected to sell for £5,000.
The Beatles Memorabilia Auction will be held in Warrington, near Liverpool, on September 11.