BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: Entertainment: Arts
Front Page 
UK Politics 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
McEwan: Enduring talent
Ian McEwan
McEwan won the 1998 Booker with Amsterdam
At 52, Ian Russell McEwan is one of Britain's most distinguished writers.

He has won the Booker prize, The Somerset Maugham Award for a first book and the Whitbread Prize for Fiction for The Child in Time.

Atonement has been acclaimed as a "masterpiece"
The reviews for his Booker shortlisted novel Atonement variously call it "enveloping" (Evening Standard), a "superb achievement" (The Sunday Times) and "dazzling" (The Sunday Telegraph).

Born in 1948 in Aldershot, Surrey, he spent his childhood in Singapore and North Africa where his father - a soldier - was posted.

After studying English Literature at the University of Sussex, graduating in 1970, he undertook an MA degree at the University of East Anglia.

One of his teachers was the novelist Malcolm Bradbury on the now famous creative writing course he set up at East Anglia.


McEwan's first book - a set of short stories called First Love, Last Rites - was published in 1975.

In 1978 he published his first novel - The Cement Garden - a story about a pair of siblings who conceal the death of their mother.

The New York review of Books described it as a "shocking" and "morbid" book which was also "irresistibly readable".

That novel was filmed in 1993, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and Sinead Cusack.

Ian McEwan bibliography
First Loves, Last Rites - 1975
The Cement Garden - 1978
In Between The Sheets and Other Stories - 1978
The Comfort of Strangers - 1981
The Child In Time - 1978
The Innocent - 1990
Black Dogs - 1992
The Daydreamer - 1994
Enduring Love - 1997
Amsterdam - 1998
Atonement - 2001

The shocking has always had a role in McEwan's literature - the abduction of a child in The Child in Time, deviant sexual practises in The Comfort of Strangers, a fatal fall from a helium balloon in Enduring Love.

That novel tells the story of a scientist turned journalist whose world is turned upside down when he becomes the object of obsession of a stalker.

Public eye

McEwan made up a medical condition for the stalker and wrote a spoof article from a psychiatric journal explaining the illness and included it in the book.

His description of De Clerambault's Syndrome fooled reviewers and psychiatrists alike.

In 1999 McEwan's private life was hauled into the public eye when his ex-wife Penny Allen kidnapped their 13-year-old son and took him to France.

The child was returned and the author retained sole custody while his ex-wife was fined for "defamation" of his name.

McEwan married journalist Annalena McAfee in 1997.

He has also written several plays and scripts for television, one of which, Solid Geometry, was banned by the BBC in 1979 at an advanced stage of production.

His latest novel Atonement has already been hailed as a "masterwork".

It is the story of a girl who condemns a young friend of the family for a crime he did not commit.

The fast-paced story plays out against the evacuation of Dunkirk and wartime Britain.

Unlike Amsterdam, which won him the 1998 Booker prize, most reviewers think this is the product of a great writer at the peak of his skills.

See also:

28 Oct 98 | Entertainment
Booker win for Ian McEwan
07 Sep 99 | UK
Novelist's ex-wife 'gagged'
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Arts stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Arts stories