The Beatle I loved and lost, by Olivia Harrison

More than 20 years after the death of George Harrison, his widow is publishing a poetic memoir. At the stately home where they escaped Beatlemania, she remembers their life together

Olivia Harrison was going to live in an ashram when she got the call that changed her life. “I actually gave my notice on a Friday,” she tells me, “and somebody said, ‘Would you like to come to work for this record label?’ ” The record label was Dark Horse, founded by George Harrison, who, four years on from the Beatles’ split, was continuing his solo career. Olivia, who had been working in the marketing department at A&M Records in LA, took the job. In autumn 1974 he flew over to do an American tour. They met. They fell in love. She was 26. He was 31. By the end of the tour they were inseparable.

Olivia left LA and moved into the house we’re sitting in now in Henley-on-Thames. Nearly half a century on, she’s still here. When I say “the house we’re sitting in”, I mean the house I can just about glimpse from the glass building in which we’re drinking coffee. The glass building is huge. It feels like a loft apartment. It has big elegant sofas and a long wooden table, with interesting artefacts and antiquarian books propped up on stands. “Was it a palm house?” I ask “Yes,” she says, “Frank Crisp [the original owner] had, I think, over ten greenhouses that started down at the bottom on that south-facing wall. All of them fell down.” After George died she was tempted to let this one collapse too, but decided to renovate it instead. “I’m really glad I did,” she adds.