John Lennon was “bubbling over” with excitement about returning to the UK in a phone call the night before he was shot dead, a newly released letter written by his aunt has revealed.

The former Beatle was killed by Mark Chapman outside the entrance to his Manhattan flat on December 8, 1980.

A month later his aunt Mimi Smith replied in a letter to Daily Express journalist Judith Simons, who had written a letter of condolence following Lennon’s death.

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“Dear Judith, Thank you for your letter, kind thoughts,” Smith wrote.

“I’m trying to accept this terrible thing which has happened, but finding it very hard. He had such faith himself, I’m trying to do the same.

John Lennon

John Lennon (Picture: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

“He phoned the night before, witty, funny, bubbling over with excitement, coming over very soon. Couldn’t wait to see me. So I’m glad of that.

“If I’m in London, I’ll get in touch with you. Kind thoughts to you too. Mimi.”

The letter from Simons’ estate was recently discovered by Tracks Ltd, which provides valuations of music memorabilia.

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According to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, it provides “solid confirmation that, but for his murder, Lennon would have returned to Britain during 1981 for the first time in 10 years”.

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