Cynthia Lennon, the first wife of John Lennon, died Wednesday of cancer, her only son Julian confirmed on his website and Twitter. Cynthia, whose maiden name was Powell, met Lennon in art school in Liverpool in 1957, right before the Beatles formed.
Cynthia and John were married in 1962 after she became pregnant with Julian. John was reportedly volatile toward Cynthia for much of their relationship, and became jealous easily. In one incident, Lennon reportedly slapped Cynthia across the face when he saw her dancing with his friend Stu Sutcliffe.
During the Beatles' rise, their manager Brian Epstein attempted to keep Lennon's marriage secret, fearing that their coupling would infuriate the Beatles' female fans. Cynthia, however, allowed photographers to capture the two together. Cynthia spent a large portion of her life dealing with maniacal Beatles fans, though she was only invited on tour once, and according to The Beatles: The Authorized Biography, was kicked in the leg by a fan who encouraged her to "leave John alone." In the same biography, it was said that Cynthia felt frustrated that she never fully used her art school degree.
On a flight back to England from India in 1968, Lennon confessed that he had not been faithful to Cynthia, having had romantic rendezvous with thousands of women. Cynthia was sent away on vacation to Italy that same year after Lennon maintained he still loved her. There, she spent the night with an Italian hotelier whom she later married. While in Italy, Cynthia was met by a mutual friend with the news that Lennon was suing for divorce on account of her adultery. Meanwhile, Lennon had been secretly dating Yoko Ono. Cynthia Lennon wrote two books about her time with John, A Twist of Lennon in 1978 and John in 2006.