Ian McEwan Additional Biography


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 another screenplay, The Innocent (1995), a film adaptation of his 1990 novel. His novel...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical 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.


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.