Handwritten John Lennon lyrics to songs such as Strawberry Fields Forever, as well as letters from the former Beatles star, have been given to the UK.
The manuscripts and documents – some of them unseen in public – have been donated to the British Library by the Fab Four’s biographer Hunter Davies who wanted to ensure his collection was kept intact.
The lyrics to She Said She Said and In My Life are also among the items handed over today as the British Library became the first place to benefit from the new “cultural gifts scheme”.
Hunter Davies, the acclaimed Beatles biographer and current owner of the documents, had loaned some of the items to the British Library in the past and they were displayed in the “treasures gallery”.
Author Davies, 77, befriended the members of The Beatles in the 1960s.
He is now handing them over permanently under the scheme which allows people to donate items during their lifetime in exchange for a reduction in their tax liability. Davies’s gift will reduce his tax by £319,500 (€376,871).
He said: “I want my Beatles collection to be kept together, in one place, and on public display, and the British Library is the perfect home for it.
“I have always been pleased to see them in the treasures gallery, next to the Magna Carta, and works by Shakespeare and Beethoven, because that’s where I honestly think they belong.
“Working on a new book about the Beatles’ lyrics made me determined that the British Library should have the world’s best public collection of Beatles manuscripts – I’m really pleased the cultural gifts scheme has helped me make this a reality.”
The Government has been keen to encourage philanthropy as a way of financing culture and the arts.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: “It’s fantastic that the first treasures to be donated to the nation through the Cultural Gifts Scheme include the handwritten lyrics to some of the world’s best known songs, by one of the world’s most loved artists.
“Incredibly generous donations like these are testament to the strong culture of philanthropy that exists in Britain today, and I look forward to seeing what other treasures may soon find a home in our national collections as a result of this scheme.”
British Library chief executive Roly Keating said: “We’re delighted to receive these iconic items on behalf of the nation. The case devoted to The Beatles is one of the most popular in our Treasures Gallery; visitors from all over the world are thrilled to see such legendary lyrics in their very earliest draft form.”