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The first two volumes in Jude’s series on John Lennon, “Shoulda Been There” and “Shivering Inside” have been critically acclaimed as she delves into the life of John Lennon like no other author has ever done.

“Shoulda Been There” &

“Shivering Inside”

Jude has set out for over 20 years to write a 9 volume series on the life of John Lennon, an incredible achievement and goal. With the first two volumes already published, and a third on the way, Jude’s books are superb.


Meet The Author - Jude Southerland Kessler


Jude Southerland Kessler

Author, The Lennon Series:

Shoulda Been There and Shivering Inside

Jude Southerland Kessler was reared in Natchitoches, Louisiana, the city where “Steel Magnolias” was written, filmed, and actually took place. Surrounded by artists (Clementine Hunter) and writers (Robert Harling, Lyle Saxon, Francois Mignon), Jude decided at an early age that she, too, wanted to be an author.

In 1971, Jude attended Northwestern State University, getting two degrees (in English and History) in three years with a 4.0 average. She won a graduate assistantship to The University of Maryland in 1974 and received her master’s degree in English in 1976.

Jude has taught English on the junior high, high school, and college levels. She was an English and Business Communications instructor at Troy State University in Alabama for six years.

In 1986, Jude began writing the first of nine volumes in an expanded biography on the life of John Lennon. She collected, and continues to collect, an extensive Lennon library of books, interview CD’s and DVD’s, periodicals, and interview tapes. In 1993, she took the first of seven trips to Liverpool, England, to interview John Lennon’s childhood friends, early band members, relatives, art college mates, and business associates.

Established as the foremost John Lennon expert, Kessler began to speak to organizations across the United States. She was the guest speaker for the Pennsylvania State Convention of the Daughters of The British Empire. She wrote for Richard Farrar’s Kansas City Beatlefan Magazine and toured the United States interviewing “Beatle people” living in this country (including George Harrison’s sister, Louise).

In late November of 2008, Kessler published her first expanded biography entitled Shoulda Been There, the result of twenty years of research into Lennon’s life. Shoulda Been There detailed John Lennon’s life from his birth in 1940 to 10 Dec. 1961 when The Beatles formed a loose managerial agreement with NEMS store owner, Brian Epstein.

Then in October 2009, Kessler released the second book in the 9-book Lennon Series, Shivering Inside. This second volume takes John and his Beatles from their decision to sign with Epstein through the thrilling years of securing a record contract with EMI (Parlophone), releasing Pete Best and acquiring Ringo Starr as drummer, recording the first hit record, “Love Me Do,” and recording the first LP, “Please Please Me.” The Beatles rise to British fame in this book, while John struggles with the loss of his best friend, Stu Sutcliffe, and with the pressures of becoming a rocker, husband, and father.

Featuring a second Foreword by Beatles’ best friend and historian, Bill Harry, the 675-page book again offers the reader many rare photos from Liverpool promoter, Sam Leach, from Bill Harry, from collector Vincent Vigil, and from Abbey Road Second Engineer, Richard Langham.

Both of Kessler’s scholarly works include an Encyclopedia of Real Characters with their biographies, a Scouse (Liverpudlian) Glossary, annotations for each chapter, and Appendix of rare documents.

Kessler continues each year to participate as a Guest Author for The Fest for Beatles Fans in New York City, Chicago, and Las Vegas. She was the 2008 “Featured Author” for the Melrose Arts Festival in Louisiana and was the keynote speaker for the Philadelphia Women’s Night of Commerce in April 2009. She participated in BeatlesFest West (San Francisco) and RockCon held in southern Connecticut. Currently touring the United States speaking to civic groups, book clubs, library conferences, and social organizations, Kessler also continues with book signings and radio promotions.

Jude is currently living in Shreveport, Louisiana and is working on her third book in the series, entitled She Loves You (mid-April 1963 through end of 1965).

Her books sell via: her website,;,,,, and

Shoulda Been There is also currently available on Kindle, and Shivering Inside will be available on Kindle in March, 2012.

She Loves You is due for release in October, 2013.


After spending more than 20 years on research that included seven trips to Liverpool and hundreds of interviews with family, friends, and acquaintances, Jude Southerland Kessler is writing on the life of John Lennon. Her first book, Shoulda Been There, was published in November of 2009. Originally planned as a trilogy, the project has grown to an incredible nine volumes that will span the life of John Lennon from birth to death.

Using strict adherence to detail, including the “Scouse” vocabulary, and cross-checking facts to printed material and conversations with “those who were there,” Kessler puts together a documented historical novel that takes the reader on a journey into the life of one of the most influential people of the 20th century.

Shivering Inside, published in 2010, is the second volume in the series and covers the period from 10 December 1961 to mid-April 1963, when the life of Lennon and the Beatles became a non-stop blur. The third book in the series, She Loves You, will be released in 2013.

Editor Tom Aguiar recently got the opportunity to spend some time with Jude and talk about Shivering Inside and her passion for John Lennon.

Octopus’ Garden: Thanks for talking the time to talk with us, Jude.

Jude Kessler: Tom, it’s always a pleasure to visit with you, whether in person at the New Jersey Fest for Beatles Fans or via e-mail! Great to chat with someone who knows so much about the lads from Liddy!

OG: Right off, I want to say that I recently read Shivering Inside and I was blown away, just like I was with Should Been There. Absolutely incredible work! Congratulations.

JK: “TA!” as we say in Liddypool. I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. My parents keep telling me that they liked Shivering Inside so much more than Shoulda Been There, but I’m pretty certain that’s because Shivering Inside was dedicated to them! I have some readers who prefer the early years and love Shoulda…and others who seem to love the rise to British fame epoch and favor Shivering. As long as they read John’s story, I’m happy. That’s my purpose: to get John’s story out there, especially to those who aren’t huge fans and don’t know it well. I’m like the little boy that King Arthur cornered at the end of “Camelot.” He tells that boy to run away from the battle, to live, and to devote his life to telling the story of the Knights of the Round Table and Camelot. I am devoting my life to telling the story of John.

OG: I recently saw an article that estimated the number of books out there on the Beatles as more than 4,000. A large number of them, good and bad, deal with John Lennon. So I have to ask, why did you decide to write about John Lennon? Hasn’t everything been said, and in every way you can imagine?

JK: In 1986, I was reading Michener’s novel, The Origin, on the life of Charles Darwin. And I had read all of Irving Stone’s well-researched and documented works on Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Lincoln, John Adams, etc. So I thought to myself, “If I’m willing to wade through 900 pages on the life of Darwin…page after page about his rocks and fossils and theories…how much more would people LOVE a well-documented, researched novel on the life of John Lennon?” It seemed to be the best way to acquaint non-fans with John’s amazing personality and accomplishments.

I just had no idea that doing the research in order to get the facts RIGHT would take me 20 years – seven years of which I spent going back and forth to Liverpool. I knew that author Irving Stone had spent six years in Italy poring over rare diaries and letters and documentation before writing The Agony and The Ecstasy. So, I realized a book of that nature would be a research challenge. But 20 years? I never anticipated that it would take that long to collect the facts, weed out the myths, do the interviews, and build the story.

Tom, those books that had been previously written about John were documentaries, collected essays, collected interviews, coffee-table picture books, children’s books, etc. But no one had ever taken the exact facts and made them into a novel so that readers could “relive” John’s life with him. I wanted to do what no one had ever done and to give people what Bill Harry called “a fly-on-the-wall” experience of John’s personal moments.

Read the full interview here

Jude (centre) behind Sid Bernstein and in front of Denny Laine at BEATEXPO, November 2009


Click here to see and hear Jude giving a talk at Northwestern State University

SAMPLE FROM THE BOOK     Download a sample from the book here   Read a sample from "Shoulda Been There" here