Atonement (McEwan)

Author Bio
Birth—June 21, 1948
Where—Aldershot, England, UK
Education—B.A., University of Sussex; M.A. University of East Anglia
Awards—(see blow)
Currently—lives in Oxford, England

Ian Russell McEwan is an English novelist. He was born in Aldershot, Hampshire, the son of David McEwan and Rose Lilian Violet (nee Moore). His father was a working class Scotsman who had worked his way up through the army to the rank of major. As a result, McEwan spent much of his childhood in East Asia (including Singapore), Germany and North Africa (including Libya), where his father was posted. His family returned to England when he was twelve.

McEwan was educated at Woolverstone Hall School; the University of Sussex, receiving his degree in English literature in 1970; and the University of East Anglia, where he was one of the first graduates of Malcolm Bradbury and Angus Wilson's pioneering creative writing course.

McEwan's first published work was a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites (1975), which won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976. He achieved notoriety in 1979 when the BBC suspended production of his play Solid Geometry because of its alleged obscenity. His second collection of short stories, In Between the Sheets, was published in 1978.

The Cement Garden (1978) and The Comfort of Strangers (1981) were his two earliest novels, both of which were adapted into films. The nature of these works caused him to be nicknamed "Ian Macabre." These were followed by The Child in Time (1987), winner of the 1987 Whitbread Novel Award; The Innocent (1990); and Black Dogs (1992). McEwan has also written two children's books, Rose Blanche (1985) and The Daydreamer (1994). His 1997 novel, Enduring Love, about the relationship between a science writer and a stalker, was popular with critics and adapted into a film in 2004.

In 1998, he won the Man Booker Prize for Amsterdam. His next novel, Atonement (2001), received considerable acclaim; Time magazine named it the best novel of 2002, and it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. In 2007, the critically acclaimed movie Atonement, directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, was released in cinemas worldwide. His next work, Saturday (2005), follows an especially eventful day in the life of a successful neurosurgeon. Saturday won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for 2005, and his novel On Chesil Beach (2007) was shortlisted for the 2007 Booker Prize.

McEwan has also written a number of produced screenplays, a stage play, children's fiction, an oratorio and a libretto titled For You with music composed by Michael Berkeley.

In 2008 at the Hay Festival, McEwan gave a surprise reading of his then novel-in-progress, eventually published as Solar (2010). The novel includes a scientist hoping to save the planet from the threat of climate change and got its inspiration from a 2005 Cape Farewell expedition. McEwan along with fellow artists and scientists spent several weeks aboard a ship near the north pole.

McEwan's twelfth novel, Sweet Tooth (2012), is historical in nature and set in the 1970. In an interview with the Scotsman newspaper, McEwan revealed that the impetus for writing the novel was a way for him to write a "disguised autobiography." McEwan's 13th novel, The Children Act (2014), is about a high court judge.

In 2006 McEwan was accused of plagiarism, specifically a passage in Atonement that closely echoed one from a 2012 memoir, No Time for Romance, by Lucilla Andrews. McEwan acknowledged using the book as a source for his work; in fact, he had included a brief note at the end of the book referring to Andrews's autobiography, among several other works. Writing in the Guardian in November 2006, a month after Andrews' death, McEwan professed innocence of plagiarism while acknowledging his debt to the author.

The incident recalled critical controversy over his debut novel The Cement Garden, key plot elements that closely mirrored some of those in Our Mother's House, a 1963 novel by Julian Gloag, which had also been made into a film. McEwan denied charges of plagiarism, claiming he was unaware of the earlier work.

In 2011 McEwan caused controversy when he accepted the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society. In the face of pressure from groups and individuals opposed to the Israeli government, specifically British Writers in Support of Palestine (BWISP), McEwan wrote a letter to the Guardian in which he said...

There are ways in which art can have a longer reach than politics, and for me the emblem in this respect is Daniel Barenboim's West-Eastern Divan Orchestra—surely a beam of hope in a dark landscape, though denigrated by the Israeli religious right and Hamas. If BWISP is against this particular project, then clearly we have nothing more to say to each other.

He announced that he would donate the ten thousand dollar prize money to Combatants for Peace, an organization that brings together Israeli ex-soldiers and Palestinian ex-fighters.

McEwan has been nominated for the Man Booker prize six times to date, winning the Prize for Amsterdam in 1998. His other nominations were for The Comfort of Strangers (1981, Shortlisted), Black Dogs (1992, Shortlisted), Atonement (2001, Shortlisted), Saturday (2005, Longlisted), and On Chesil Beach (2007, Shortlisted). McEwan also received nominations for the Man Booker International Prize in 2005 and 2007.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was awarded the Shakespeare Prize by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation, Hamburg, in 1999. He is also a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association. He was awarded a CBE in 2000. In 2005, he was the first recipient of Dickinson College's Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholar and Writers Program Award, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, U.S. In 2008, McEwan received an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature by University College, London, where he used to teach English literature. In 2008, The Times (of London) featured him on their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".

McEwan has been married twice. His 13-year marriage to spiritual healer and therapist Penny Allen ended in 1995 and was followed by a bitter custody battle over their two sons. His second wife, Annalena McAfee, was formerly the editor of the Guardian's Review section.

In 2002, McEwan discovered that he had a brother who had been given up for adoption during World War II when his mother was married to a different man. After her first husband was killed in combat, McEwan's mother married her lover, and Ian was born a few years later. The brothers are in regular contact, and McEwan has written a foreword to Sharp's memoir. (Excerpted and adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 9/4/2014.)

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