SHE was one of the women who loomed large in the life of John Lennon.

Now, a film dramatising the Beatles’ early life sees Oscar-nominated actress Kristin Scott Thomas play his beloved Aunt Mimi, who ended her days in the Sandbanks home he bought for her.

Nowhere Boy, directed by artist Sam Taylor-Wood, highlights the conflict between Lennon’s mother Julia and Mimi Smith, who raised the boy from the age of three.

Some of those who remember Mimi have painted very contradictory portraits of her.

Lennon’s first wife Cynthia claimed in a memoir that Mimi “oppressed and hounded” Lennon, undermining his confidence.

She has also been presented as a snob who didn’t like teenage George Harrison visiting her Liverpool home because of his thick Scouse accent.

But Paul McCartney – who, like Lennon, lost his mother in childhood – remembered Mimi as “a pleasure to know”, and Lennon’s childhood friend Peter Shotton said: “She was terrific. She was a surrogate mother.

“He couldn’t have had better.”

Lennon’s second wife Yoko Ono admired her and even organised her funeral at Poole Crematorium.

Friends and carers in Poole remembered Mimi as very proper but charming.

Certainly, Mimi continued to figure in Lennon’s life. He spent £25,000 on buying her a bungalow, Harbour Edge, in Panorama Road, Sandbanks, and enjoyed visiting her there.

They spoke on the phone every week after Lennon moved to New York.

Their last conversation was on the day he was murdered.

A year later, Mimi told the Echo she was going to head back to Liverpool, to the church where Lennon had been a choirboy, for the anniversary.

She said: “This year has been a misery for me.

“Lots of people, however, suffer terrible blows, like the mothers of the boys killed in Northern Ireland or Vietnam.

“I must not get full of self-pity.”

But she admitted: “John’s death was the greatest blow I have ever had.

“I will never get over it properly.

“When his records come on the radio I have to turn it off.”

Mimi died at 85 in 1991. Harbour’s Edge was later demolished to make way for a four-bedroom luxury home.

l Nowhere Boy is released on Boxing Day.