Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Ian Russell McEwan (muhk-YEW-uhn) was born on June 21, 1948, in the military town of Aldershot (southern England), to Rose Lillian Violet (Moore) McEwan and David McEwan. His mother was a war widow with two children; his father, later to become a major, had joined the army in face of the bleak employment situation in Glasgow. As a soldier’s son, Ian spent a significant part of his early childhood at military outposts in Singapore and Libya. In an interview with Ian Hamilton, he remembered life in Africa with “very open air, a great deal of running free, swimming, exploring the coast and the desert.” At the age of eleven, McEwan was sent to a state-owned British boarding school, Woolverstone Hall in Suffolk, where he stayed until 1966. Shy and quiet, he was a mediocre student unnoticed by teachers. In his late teens, however, he became competitive and developed a serious interest in English literature and the popular culture of the 1960’s.
On completing his secondary education, McEwan went to London, where he read voraciously and worked as a garbage collector for Camden Council. He went on to study French and English literature at the University of Sussex, and received his honors B.A. in 1970. The following year he earned an M.A. in creative writing at the celebrated University of East Anglia, where he studied under novelists Malcolm Bradbury and Angus Wilson.
In 1972 McEwan’s short story “Homemade” was published in New...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
Ian Russel McEwan was born in Aldershot, England, on June 21, 1948, where his father, David McEwan, a career military man, was stationed. His mother, Rose Moore McEwan, the widow of a soldier killed in World War II, had two older children, and McEwan considered himself “psychologically, an only child.” He spent his childhood at military bases in Singapore and Libya before returning to England in 1959 to attend a state-run boarding school and then enter the University of Sussex, from which he graduated with a B.A. honors degree in English in 1970.
During his third year at Sussex, he had begun to write fiction, and he decided to enter the M.A. program at the University of East Anglia because he could “submit a little fiction instead of writing a thesis.” After graduating in 1971, he spent a year traveling before placing a story, “Homemade,” with New American Review. His first book, First Love, Last Rites, which developed out of his graduate thesis, was published in 1975. Explaining that he sometimes felt confined by fiction, McEwan began to write screenplays for television and films, and composed an oratorio, Or Shall We Die? (1983), about nuclear annihilation, which was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. His primary area of work, however, is the novel, and, after being shortlisted twice for the increasingly prestigious Booker McConnell Prize, his novel Amsterdam won the award in 1998. Some critics...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Ian McEwan was born in Aldershot, England, in 1948 into a military family. His Scottish father, David, was a sergeant major in the British army, so the young McEwan spent much of his childhood on army bases in Singapore and Libya. He said that those experiences abroad opened his eyes to the importance of politics and history to ordinary people’s lives. He has described his father as charming but domineering, and his mother as easily intimidated; this combination likely led to his parents’ decision in 1942 to give away for adoption his only full sibling, David (Dave) Sharp. Sharp renewed contact with McEwan and his family in 2002 and wrote a memoir about his life, Complete Surrender (2008), for which McEwan wrote the foreword.
McEwan attended a boarding school in Sussex from 1959 to 1966, then studied English and French at the University of Sussex for three years before enrolling in a one-year master’s degree program at the new University of East Anglia. He completed part of his course work in creative writing under the supervision of the well-known writer and critic Malcolm Bradbury. In 1971, McEwan began his career as a professional author, attracting critical attention in the mid-1970’s and quickly gaining a reputation, along with his friend Martin Amis, as one of the enfants terribles of the British literary world.
McEwan was married to journalist Penny Allen, with whom he had two sons, from 1982 to 1997. Their divorce led...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Ian McEwan (muhk-YEW-uhn) was born on June 21, 1948, in Aldershot, England, where his mother, Rose Moore, a widow with two children, married his father, David McEwan, a Scotsman who had joined the British army in the 1930’s and rose to the rank of sergeant major, a social move upward as well as a military promotion. McEwan attended a government-supported boys’ boarding school and completed a degree in English and French at the University of Sussex before beginning an M.A. degree in English at the University of East Anglia. He was the student of the English novelist Malcolm Bradbury, whose specialty was American writers. McEwan has said that Bradbury’s encouragement to read the works of novelists such as Norman Mailer, Philip Roth, and Vladimir Nabokov had a large impact on his own early writing, including some of the stories that appeared in his two collections, First Love, Last Rites (1975) and In Between the Sheets (1978). In 1978, McEwan published his first novel, The Cement Garden.
In the 1980’s, McEwan also became interested in writing plays for the stage, television, and screen. His dramatic works include The Imitation Game: Three Plays for Television (1981); Or Shall We Die? (pr., pb. 1983), an oratorio with music by Michael Berkeley (1983); a screenplay, The Ploughman’s Lunch (1983); and...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
The novels Ian McEwan has published since 1997 demonstrate his increasing mastery of narrative technique and his ongoing interest in themes of time, innocence, love, and “the moment” in which someone’s future may be determined. Love, especially its sexual expressions, is central to his outlook and represented as extremely fragile, whether in the disastrous wedding night of Florence and Edward or the separation of Robbie and Cecilia. Love becomes central for McEwan because he understands lovers’ physical and psychological vulnerability, which requires that they have compassion for and protect each other.
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Biography (eNotes Publishing)
Ian McEwan is a British author whose works have won several awards including the Man Booker Prize, Britain’s most prestigious literary award. He is considered one of England's best novelists and is noted for his brilliant writing style as well as for his telling of very dark psychological tales.
McEwan often refers to himself as an “army brat,” as his family followed his father from one military assignment to another as he was growing up. He was born on June 21, 1948, in Aldershot, Hampshire, England, but grew up in the Far East, Germany, and North Africa.
After returning to England, McEwan attended Sussex University and later was admitted to a special creative writing class at the University of East Anglia, where he obtained a master’s degree. When he was in his late twenties, McEwan published his first collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites (1975) which won the Somerset Maugham Award. Three years later, he published his second collection, In Between the Sheets (1978). The stories received a lot of attention for their emphasis on deviant sexuality and dysfunctional family life.
In that same year, McEwan produced his first novel, The Cement Garden. The Comfort of Strangers, his next work, was short-listed for the Booker Prize. In the following years, he wrote The Child in Time (1987), The Innocent (1990), Black Dogs (1992), and Enduring Love (1997). Then in 1998, came what most critics believe is McEwan's masterpiece, Amsterdam, a tale of three men who loved the same woman and meet one another at her funeral. Amsterdam won the Booker Prize.
Atonement was next. Then came Saturday (2005) and On Chesil Beach (2007), also short-listed for the Booker Prize. McEwan has also written plays, screenplays, and children's books. He has been married twice and has two sons. He now lives in London.
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