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Paul McCartney and John Lennon were both inspired by surreal and colorful imagery and often incorporated these images into The Beatles‘ songs. The two were fans of Lewis Carroll, who is responsible for some of the most imaginative stories, such as Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Their interest in Carroll can be heard in their songwriting, as Carroll’s writing inspired several Beatles songs. 

Here are 5 Beatles songs inspired by Lewis Carroll books

‘Yellow Submarine’

Paul McCartney and John Lennon of The Beatles at Heathrow Airport in London
Paul McCartney and John Lennon | Cummings Archives/Redferns

“Yellow Submarine” was written by McCartney and Lennon, and featured contributions from Scottish musician Donovan. The Revolver track was The Beatles’ attempt at creating a children’s song, and Donovan said Alice in Wonderland was an inspiration for this. 

“Children’s songs were easy for me because I had absorbed so much poetry,” he explained in a 2008 Goldmine interview. “My father had read me Robert Louis Stevenson, Alice in Wonderland, and an enormous amount of Victorian poems, and so I was well versed in those.”

‘Helter Skelter’

“Helter Skelter” is one of The Beatles’ heaviest and dirtiest songs, so it may not seem like it would connect to a children’s book. However, in The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, McCartney shared that the verses were based on lines from the Mock Turtle’s song in Alice in Wonderland. The Mock Turtle’s song features the lines “Will you, won’t you?” repeatedly, which are in a few verses of “Helter Skelter”. 

‘I Am the Walrus’

“I Am the Walrus” is arguably the band’s most nonsensical song, filled with absurd and surreal lyrics. It’s only fitting that it references The Walrus and the Carpenter from Through the Looking-Glass. In the 1980 Playboy interview, Lennon admitted he misunderstood the poem, as he believed the walrus to be the hero. However, the track still sounds better with “the walrus” instead of “the carpenter.”

“To me, it was a beautiful poem,” Lennon explained. “It never dawned on me that Lewis Carroll was commenting on the capitalist and social system. I never went into that bit about what he really meant, like people are doing with the Beatles’ work. Later, I went back and looked at it and realized that the walrus was the bad guy in the story and the carpenter was the good guy.”

‘Strawberry Fields Forever’

“Strawberry Fields Forever” is a very personal Beatles song for Lennon as it was based on a garden he used to play in at the Strawberry Field home in Liverpool. It’s a dreamlike song that evokes the audience to imagine a beautiful stretch of strawberry fields. In Barry Miles’ Many Years From Now, McCartney said Lennon’s inspiration for this song came from “Jabberwocky”, a poem from Through the Looking-Glass

“He was a big Lewis Carroll fan, which I was too,” he shared. “In my view, two of John’s great songs, ‘Strawberry Fields’ and ‘I Am the Walrus,’ both come from ‘Jabberwocky.’ ‘I am he as you are he …’ It’s thanks to ‘Jabberwocky’ that he could do that.”

‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’


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Many Beatles songs have been associated with drugs, and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” might be the primary example. While the title does suspiciously spell out the acronym for LSD, Lennon claimed it was based on a drawing by his son, Julian. Lennon told Playboy that the imagery was also based on “Alice in the boat” coming to save him. 

“The imagery was Alice in the boat. And also the image of this female who would come and save me—this secret love that was going to come one day,” he explained. “So it turned out to be Yoko, though, and I hadn’t met Yoko then. But she was my imaginary girl that we all have.”