The Bard had to take a back seat to The Beatles as the subject of a Northumberland couple’s latest book.
Husband and wife double act Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom’s new book The Beatles is out this week.
The award-winning couple, who live near Berwick, have written and illustrated more than 60 children’s books.
Painter and illustrator Brita produced the images for The Beatles while Mick co-designed the book and wrote the text.
Both spent a year researching to compile their history of the band and the background happenings of the Sixties.
Their most recent titles have included books on Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin.
Brita, who comes from Sweden and has lived in the UK for 20 years, is also well known for her landscape paintings and a project in which she portrayed Berwick shop keepers.
Shakespeare was to have been the couple’s next book after the publication of the Dickens volume.
But Brita said: “ Dickens was greeted with hysteria when he visited America and the next time that sort of thing happened with English performers was with The Beatles and especially Paul McCartney.
“We were going to do Shakespeare but we thought it has to be The Beatles. They were huge.”
Mick, who studied graphics and illustration in the 1970s at Newcastle Polytechnic, grew up listening to Beatles music played by his older sister.
Brita’s father was a young policeman on duty on the night in 1963 when The Beatles played at the family’s home Swedish city of Eskilstuna.
The book is aimed at a new generation for whom The Beatles are largely history and also for older fans who want to know more about the group and their story.
The book also comes with an album list, Sixties timeline, and a run down of the major events of the decade.
“For the new generation we have had to explain things like what records were and how they were made from plastic with grooves,” said Brita.
“We have also explained what record shops were and how young people dressed like their parents as before the Sixties there were no fashion shops for young people.”
The book was checked for accuracy by Beatles historian Colin Hall.
“For a year we ate, slept and lived The Beatles,” said Brita.
The couple expect the book to have a wide appeal because of the far-reaching musical and social reach of The Beatles.
“The book was a big leap from Dickens but so many people were touched by The Beatles, whether through their classic songs or by going to see them,” said Brita.
“The Beatles worked hard and played so many concerts.”
The Beatles is published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books at £12.99.