Beatle John Lennon and his wife, Cynthia, sit in London Airport, England, before flying to the U.S. on Feb. 7, 1964.
AP
April 1, 2015 11:59 AM EDT

Cynthia Lennon, the former wife of John Lennon and eyewitness to the early days of the Beatles, died in her home Wednesday at the age of 75.

Her death was confirmed by a publicist and on her son Julian Lennon’s Twitter page. She died in her home in Spain after a “short but brave battle with cancer,” according to a memorial page.

The Lennons met in art school before the Beatles got their start in Hamburg, and married in 1962 after Cynthia Lennon realized she was pregnant. Their marriage and subsequent birth of their son Julian was initially kept a secret, to avoid upsetting the growing Beatlemania, but Cynthia and Julian eventually got a front-row seat to the Beatles’ growing popularity in England and the U.S. The Lennons divorced in 1968, when John Lennon became involved with Yoko Ono.

Cynthia chronicled their marriage and her experience with the Beatles in two books, A Twist of Lennon (1978) and John (2010).

Write to Charlotte Alter at charlotte.alter@time.com.

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