Arts Ian McEwan’s Brother
posted by March 27 at 13:01 PMon
In case you’re just learning about this—apparently it’s been all over the British press for years—here’s the story as the Telegraph has it.
English novelist Ian McEwan (read Sean Nelson’s terrific piece from 2004 about McEwan here) has a brother he was never told about. (This gets complicated, so pay attention.) McEwan’s brother’s last name is Sharp and he’s six years older than McEwan. He was born to McEwan’s parents, Rose and David, illegitimately, while Rose was married to a soldier who was off fighting in Africa. Since she was married to another man, they put their child up for adoption, and the Sharps adopted him. Then Rose’s husband died in Normandy and she married the man she’d had the affair with, David, and they had a second child, Ian. “He and his brother were brought up only 20 miles apart but in ignorance of each other.”
As a 50-something-year-old adult, Sharp—who is a bricklayer and who’s first name is also, confusingly, David—tracked down his brother, the famous novelist, who had never been told by his parents of his older brother. Their father had died, so McEwan couldn’t introduce Sharp to him. But their mother was still alive, so McEwan took Sharp to meet her. Only thing was, by this point, she’d developed dementia.
McEwan hasn’t spoken about the whole thing until now.
Asked whether the tale could have formed the plot of his own books, McEwan said: “People say that, but I’ve not written a novel as good as this. It’s more a Victorian novel, more Dickensian.”