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Ian McEwan:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: McEwan, Ian, 1948-
Title: Ian McEwan Papers
Dates: 1930s-2014 (bulk 1968-2013)
Extent: 71 document boxes (29.82 linear feet), 2 oversize boxes (osb), 1 notecard box, 12 computer disks, 1 computer hard drive
Abstract: Drafts (typescripts, printouts, electronic files) of published and unpublished works, personal and professional correspondence, notebooks, photographs, clippings, and family papers belonging to English novelist Ian McEwan. The professional and personal papers document McEwan's diverse writing career and range of creative output including novels; short stories; essays; lectures; scripts for radio, television and stage; screenplays; and libretti.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-4902
Language: Predominately English but also includes material in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, Spanish
Access: Open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using archival materials. Some materials restricted due to condition and conservation status. Some materials are closed due to privacy concerns.
Use Policies: Ransom Center collections may contain material with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in the collections without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Ransom Center and The University of Texas at Austin assume no responsibility.
Restrictions on Use: Certain restrictions apply to the use of electronic files. Researchers must agree to the Materials Use Policy for Electronic Files before accessing them. Original computer disks and forensic disk images are restricted. Copying electronic files, including screenshots and printouts, is not permitted. To request access to electronic files, please email Authorization for publication is given on behalf of the University of Texas as the owner of the collection and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder which must be obtained by the researcher. For more information please see the Ransom Center's Open Access and Use Policies.

Administrative Information

Acquisition: Purchase, 2014 (14-05-010-P, 14-05-011-P, 14-06-008-P)
Processed by: Amy E. Armstrong, 2015, 2017

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Ian Russell McEwan was born on June 21, 1948, near Aldershot, England, to Rose, a housewife, and David McEwan, a soldier in the British army (McEwan's father was later "commissioned from the ranks" and became an army officer). The family was stationed abroad at posts in Libya, Singapore, and Germany for most of McEwan's childhood and early adulthood. McEwan essentially grew up as an only child, even though he had a much older stepbrother, Jim (known as Roy), and stepsister, Margaret (Margy), from his mother's first marriage to Ernest Wort. Wort died serving in Belgium in 1944, and McEwan learned later in life that a brother, David Stewart Wort, was born to his mother and father in 1942 and given to a childless couple in response to a newspaper advertisement.
In 1959, at the age of 11, McEwan was sent from Tripoli, Libya to attend Woolverstone Hall, a state-run boarding school in Sussex, England, where he lived until 1966. In 1967, he entered the University of Sussex in Brighton where he graduated in 1970 with a BA in English. McEwan then attended the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich for an MA in English Literature, but also wrote stories under the guidance of Malcolm Bradbury and Angus Wilson. There, McEwan studied novels by American authors such as Norman Mailer, John Updike, Philip Roth, and Saul Bellow. These writers greatly influenced McEwan's early voice and their work appeared to him as "vibrant compared to its English counterpart at the time." While at UEA, McEwan wrote short stories that were submitted as part of his Master's thesis and later published in First Love, Last Rites (1975). The disturbing and grotesque topics in this collection garnered as much outrage as praise by critics ("brilliantly perverse") and won McEwan the 1976 Somerset Maugham Award. It was also at the UEA that McEwan met Penny Allen, who had two daughters from her first marriage to Alan Tuckett. In 1982, McEwan and Allen were married and the following year, had their first son, William. In 1986, their second son Gregory was born.
McEwan's first published story, "Conversation with a Cupboard Man," appeared in the Transatlantic Review (Spring/Summer 1972); however, Ted Solotaroff at the New American Review (which later became the American Review) truly launched McEwan's career with his second published story "Homemade" (#15, 1972). McEwan soon found his name appearing on the Review's cover for his story "Disguises," along with established writers such as Günter Grass, Susan Sontag, and Philip Roth (#18, September 1973). Solotaroff sent McEwan's work to Tom Maschler at Jonathan Cape, who published First Love, Last Rites.
After receiving his MA in English in 1972, McEwan and two friends traveled the "hippy trail" to Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan before he returned to London in order to focus on his writing. In 1977, he began his long association with literary agent, Deborah Rogers, who has represented him throughout his career. While awaiting publication of First Love, Last Rites, McEwan met Ian Hamilton, publisher of the New Review, and joined a clique of writers including James Fenton, Craig Raine, Martin Amis, and Julian Barnes, all about to publish their first books. McEwan's friendship with these writers has remained strong throughout his career.
In 1976, McEwan was asked to teach at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop where he met several emerging American writers including author Jayne Anne Phillips. In 1978, McEwan's second short story collection, In Between the Sheets, was published, as well as his first novel, The Cement Garden, which marked the end of his career as a short story writer. From that point on, McEwan has focused on novels, with occasional departures to write for the stage and screen.
McEwan's first television script "Jack Flea's Birthday Celebration" aired in 1976. He later adapted his short story "Solid Geometry" for the BBC; however, senior management was uncomfortable with some of the subject matter and suggested revisions, which McEwan opposed. The BBC halted production just prior to filming which resulted in a very public dispute ending with the firing of the film's producer. In 1980, McEwan wrote the teleplay, The Imitation Game, about female codebreakers at Bletchley Park. The film was directed by Richard Eyre and starred Brenda Blethyn and Harriet Walter. In 1983, he adapted his short story, The Last Day of Summer, and later that year, his first feature film, The Ploughman's Lunch (produced and directed by Eyre) was released. McEwan's adaptation of Timothy Mo's 1982 novel Sour Sweet was released in 1988, and his screenplay The Good Son starring Macaulay Culken was released in 1993.
The 1980s were a productive decade for McEwan. His second novel, The Comfort of Strangers, was published in 1981 and shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It was later adapted for screen by Harold Pinter and directed by Paul Schrader. In 1983, along with Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, Julian Barnes, Rose Tremaine, and Kazuo Ishiguro, McEwan was named one of Granta magazine's "20 Best Young British Novelists." McEwan's versatility as a writer resulted in a 1984 collaboration with composer Michael Berkeley for the libretto Or Shall We Die? about the threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. McEwan's third novel, The Child in Time (1987) won the Whitbred novel prize and marked a shift in the content of his novels, focusing less on individual morality and more on societal morality and social responsibility.
McEwan's literary success continued in the 1990s with his most popular novel to date, The Innocent (1990), which was later adapted to screen by McEwan. In 1992, Black Dogs was published and shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Ever versatile, McEwan also published a children's book made up of connected stories about a young boy named Peter, The Daydreamer. Enduring Love was published in 1997 and became a finalist for the Whitbread Book of the Year competition, quickly followed by Amsterdam (1998) which won the Booker Prize.
The 1990s also brought great personal changes for McEwan when his marriage to Penny Allen ended in 1995 with a rancorous divorce and intense custody disputes. In 1997, McEwan married journalist Annalena McAfee, whom he first met during her interview with McEwan.
In the new millennia, McEwan continues to enjoy numerous accolades and an expanding catalog of works. He received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000. His next three books were all shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Atonement (2001), Saturday (2005), and On Chesil Beach (2007). In addition to winning the People's Booker Prize, Atonement also received the WH Smith Literary Award (2002), the National Book Critics' Circle Fiction Award (2003), the Los Angeles Times Prize for Fiction (2003), and the Santiago Prize for the European Novel (2004). The novel was adapted by Christopher Hampton in 2003 into a multi award-winning film. Additional novels Solar (2010), Sweet Tooth (2012), and The Children Act (2014) were published, as well as another collaboration with Michael Berkeley for the libretto For You (2008). In 2011, McEwan was awarded the Jerusalem Prize and received criticism from pro-Palestinian writers and supporters for not boycotting the award and accepting it in person; however, McEwan defended his decision stating, "I'm for finding out for myself, and for dialogue, engagement, and looking for ways in which literature, especially fiction, with its impulse to enter other minds, can reach across political divides."
As of 2015, McEwan continues to focus on issues of censorship, climate change, science and the humanities and writes and speaks frequently on these topics.


In addition to material found in the collection, the following sources were used:
Begley, Adam. "The Art of Fiction, No. 173: Ian McEwan." The Paris Review, 44 (162), Summer 2002.
Childs, Peter, Ed. The Fiction of Ian McEwan: A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006.
Fletcher, John. "Ian McEwan." Dictionary of Literary Biography Online, (accessed 18 June 2015).
Groes, Sebastian, Ed. Contemporary Critical Perspectives: Ian McEwan. London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2009.
Head, Dominic. Contemporary British Novelists: Ian McEwan. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2007.
"Ian McEwan." Contemporary Authors Online, (accessed 28 October 2014). Ian McEwan's website hosted by Ryan Roberts, (accessed October 2014).
Lang, James M. "Ian McEwan." Dictionary of Literary Biography Online, (accessed 18 June 2015).
Moseley, Merritt. "Ian McEwan." Dictionary of Literary Biography Online, (accessed 18 June 2015).
Zalewski, Daniel. "The Background Hum: Ian McEwan's Art of Unease." New Yorker, February 2009.

Scope and Contents

The Ian McEwan papers consist of drafts (typescripts, printouts, electronic files) of published and unpublished works, personal and professional correspondence, notebooks, photographs, clippings, and family papers from English novelist Ian McEwan. The professional and personal papers document McEwan's diverse writing career and range of creative output including novels; short stories; essays; lectures; scripts for radio, television and stage; screenplays; and libretti. The papers are organized into five series: I. Works, 1969-2013, undated; II. Correspondence, 1968-2014, undated; III. Personal and Professional, 1930s-2014 (bulk 1974-2013); IV. Works by Others, 1976-2012, undated; and V. Serials and Publications, 1973-2014.
The materials arrived at the Ransom Center in labeled A4 size document storage boxes and the arrangement outlined here closely reflects McEwan's original record organization.
Additionally, one computer hard drive containing document files, email correspondence, and photographs, as well as twelve computer disks are included in the material. Many of McEwan's writings (including novels, screenplays, essays, and lectures, as well as unidentified documents), outgoing correspondence, photographs, and personal and professional documents exist as electronic files and are available to researchers. Two access copies are available. One reflects the original directory structure and contains all files, including duplicates. The other access copy was arranged by the Ransom Center and reflects the arrangement as listed in the container list and includes a brief description, the number of files, the file formats, and the year timestamp. These dates do not necessarily reflect when the file was created or last saved. A number of these files exist in more than one iteration, may have multiple file names, exist in more than one file format, and/or exist in multiple subdirectories. The email correspondence has not been processed and is not available to researchers at this time.
Series I. Works consists of 29 document boxes of materials associated with McEwan's writings. It is arranged into four subseries: A. Novels and Collections, 1970-2009, undated; B. Screenplays, Film Adaptations, Scripts, 1974-2010; C. Short Stories, circa 1969-1997; and D. Other Writings, 1969-2013, undated. Works in each of these subseries are arranged in alphabetical order by title. If an individual work has corresponding electronic files, an entry for the files is included within the material associated with that title.
Subseries: A. Novels and Collections represents all of McEwan's book-length works published between 1976 and 2010, except for the children's book Rose Blanche (1985). Within each title, the material generally follows the chronological order of literary production, from research and notes to publication proofs. When present, related material such as dust jacket proofs, editorial correspondence, publicity material, and New Yorker page proofs of excerpts follow the drafts. There are a few pages of notes and draft fragments for the novel Sweet Tooth (2012), but this material does not reflect the full writing process as represented with the other works.
McEwan often used green A4 notebooks to write story ideas and fragments of manuscript text. The notebooks were filed by McEwan with the manuscript material for the corresponding novel, but such notebooks often contain other notes and draft fragments for other unrelated writings, jottings, and personal impressions. When identifiable, these writings are noted in the container list. The notebooks for the novels Atonement (2001) and Enduring Love (1997) are particularly interesting. In the case of Enduring Love, McEwan sketched out drawings of the hot air balloon and placement of the characters to help visualize the scene.
There are several draft iterations present for most of McEwan's books. If discernable, drafts remain arranged as they were filed by McEwan. Since McEwan heavily revised drafts, his edits can often indicate draft sequence. Early working are sometimes incomplete, and consist of only specific chapters or segments. Incomplete and unnumbered draft pages make it difficult at times to discern any intended order, and these materials remain in the order that they arrived at the Ransom Center. Paper dividers inserted during processing indicate obvious breaks in page segments. If McEwan provided a title for the draft, that title was used in the container list and is indicated in single quotes in the container list.
The heavily revised drafts illustrate McEwan's constant efforts to shape and perfect the text. Drafts of the novels Atonement, The Child in Time, and The Innocent demonstrate very different plot structures than the final published versions. For example, the first draft of The Innocent begins with a flashback to a funeral. An early draft of part one of Atonement has the family named Brenner (rather than Tallis), published versions of chapters one and two switched, and the removal of the scene in which characters arrive at a train stop on the family estate.
McEwan often asked close friends to review near-final drafts of his novels and there are drafts bearing marks by Craig Raine and Tim Garton Ash; particularly for Atonement, Black Dogs, Enduring Love, On Chesil Beach, and Saturday. McEwan's wife, Annalena McAfee, was a frequent reader of McEwan's drafts and frequently wrote comments throughout the writing process; particularly for Atonement, Enduring Love, On Chesil Beach, Saturday, and Solar.
An explanation of terms used in the finding aid to describe drafts:
  • annotations--notes or comments by McEwan or a third party.
  • edits--notes or corrections by a third party (copy edits).
  • revisions--handwritten re-workings of sentences.
  • top copy--the top copy of multi paged carbon typescript.
  • typescript--manuscript created using either a typewriter or a word processed printout.
  • working draft--handwritten or typed that contains notes, paragraphs, or fragments.
Noteworthy within the Atonement material are clippings and correspondence related to plagiarism accusations published in the Mail on Sunday in 2006. The paper pointed out close similarities between McEwan's descriptions of the wounded soldiers in Atonement's hospital scenes and segments of No Time for Romance; an autobiography McEwan used for research written by wartime nurse Lucilla Andrews. Many prominent writers, including Thomas Pynchon, came to McEwan's defense.
Of notable interest within the Enduring Love material are the items that are related to an article that appeared as Appendix I in the novel. "A Homo-Erotic Obsession, with Religious Overtones: A Clinical Variant of de Clerambault's Syndrome" is a case study of an anonymous patient (Jed Parry) suffering from de Clerambault's Syndrome and written by the fictional researchers Robert Wenn and Antonio Camia (Wenn and Camia being anagrams of the name Ian McEwan) and cited as published in the equally fictional British Review of Psychiatry. Box 7.10 contains the green A4 notebook McEwan used for notes in forming the novel. Near the middle-end of the notebook, is the page with McEwan using his name to form Wenn and Camia. In box 8.1 is a faxed response to Research Fellow "R. Wenn" from the legitimate publication, the British Journal of Psychiatry, thanking him for his submission to the journal. As a result of much debate within the editorial correspondence printed in the British Journal of Psychiatry (Psychiatric Bulletin) as to the Appendix's legitimacy and whether it inspired the novel or whether the novel inspired the appendix, in box 9.5 is a letter from McEwan confirming that Appendix I is fictional.
McEwan's desire for creating realistic situations can also be seen in his intense research for the novel Saturday. In his very technical descriptions of Dr. Henry Perowne performing surgery, McEwan observed hours of actual surgery and was assisted by neurosurgeon Dr. Neil Kitchen. The green A4 notebook in box 14.1 and research notes in 14.3 demonstrate McEwan's attention to detail as he observed these medical procedures.
Subseries B. Screenplays, Film Adaptations, Scripts contains McEwan's original scripts for film, television, and radio, as well as film adaptations of his novels written by himself and other writers. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by title with a general category of television and radio scripts filed at the end.
McEwan's produced feature length screenplays include The Good Son (1993), The Innocent (1993), and The Ploughman's Lunch (1983). Five of McEwan's novels were adapted for film by other writers and produced for theatrical release: the multi-nominated award-winning film Atonement (2007, adapted by Christopher Hampton); Enduring Love (2004, adapted by Joe Penhall); First Love, Last Rites (1997, adapted by David Ryan and Jesse Peretz); and The Cement Garden (1993, adapted by Andrew Birkin). In 1985, McEwan wrote a film treatment and initial script based on his novel, The Comfort of Strangers; however, the film released in 1990 was based on Harold Pinter's screenplay adaptation. Disparate drafts of screenplays for produced and unproduced films are present. For films in which he wasn't the author of the screenplay, McEwan often made script notes and in the case of Atonement and Enduring Love served as executive and associate producer (respectively). A small amount of production and publicity material for the films Atonement, Enduring Love, and The Ploughman's Lunch are filed after the script drafts. For supplementary material related to McEwan's films and adaptations, see the Professional Correspondence subseries and in the Personal and Professional series, see press clippings and photographs.
Of note in the series are folders 26.2-3 which contains McEwan's teleplay Solid Geometry, as well as the accompanying publicity and correspondence that resulted from the BBC's decision to cease production immediately before filming.
The scripts, notes, outlines, and treatments filed in the 'Television and Radio' section was grouped together by McEwan in a folder bearing his notations. These early radio and teleplays written in the mid-1970s, are his adaptations of his own short stories.
Subseries C. Short Stories is predominately made up of two segments of writings originally maintained by McEwan in marked and labeled envelopes: 'complete but abandoned' and 'unfinished-abandoned.' Many of these stories were apparently written while attending the University of East Anglia and have instructor's comments written on them (unidentified, but perhaps by Malcolm Bradbury and/or Angus Wilson). Despite McEwan's categorization of 'complete but abandoned,' "Conversations with a Cupboard Man" was published first in the Transatlantic Review and then later in his short story collection First Love, Last Rites.
Subseries D. Other writings includes drafts for book contributions, essays, speeches, lectures, remarks made at public events, book reviews, early journalism, as well as unidentified short writings. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by category: book contributions; essays; journalism; lectures, speeches, events; novel excerpts; reviews; assorted short writings; and writing notes and unidentified fragments. Within each of these, works are arranged alphabetically by title, followed by untitled works (with the exception of book contributions, which is arranged by author). Works that have been labeled "untitled" are followed by brief subject phrases in brackets. If publication information is evident, it is also included in the description.
Of particular interest within book contributions is McEwan's foreword, entitled "Reading Station," to his brother David Sharp's memoir Complete Surrender (2008). Also included with this material are McEwan's comments and historical corrections to Sharp's memoir.
Topics covered in McEwan's essays include such broad subjects as his writing, climate change, Charles Darwin and natural selection, world events, and tributes to writers such as Saul Bellow and John Updike. Many of these essays were published in periodicals such as the Guardian and the Observer.
'Journalism, etc.' contains clippings and complete issues of publications with pieces by McEwan during the 1970s and 1980s. The clippings are book, theatre, and film reviews; editorial essays; or feature stories published in the New Statesman, the Observer, Radio Times, and the Spectator.
McEwan is a highly sought out speaker and received a tremendous amount of requests to speak at writing and science conferences. In addition, McEwan received many awards related to his literary accomplishments as well as his interest in climate change and science and the humanities. The segment "Lectures, Speeches, Events" includes drafts of speeches, and introductory remarks given by McEwan at such public events. In some cases, files also contain programs, publicity, research, and itineraries; though the bulk of material of this type is arranged in the Personal and Professional series. Many of these public addresses were later published and if that information could be determined, it is included in the description.
Also included in this subseries are brief typescript excerpts from some of McEwan's novels. These pages were not originally filed with the drafts, which suggests they were used as reference material or were used during public readings.
The segment entitled "assorted short writings" includes many brief pieces that were often not intended for publication, such as obituaries, a travel diary, and other unidentified essays. These are complete drafts; unlike the material filed in "writing notes and unidentified fragments," which is made up of untitled working drafts, notes, or jottings that are unidentified.
Series III. Correspondence contains personal, professional, and reader's letters. The series is arranged into four subseries: A. Personal, 1968-2014; B. Professional, 1971-2014; C. Readers, 1987-circa 2000s; and D. Outgoing, 1979-circa 2000s. The arrangement is based upon McEwan's general categories.
Personal correspondence consists primarily of letters with family and close friends. McEwan filed the letters in A4 document boxes by date span, which are noted in the container list. In order to help locate specific correspondence, the letters are further arranged alphabetically by name within these date spans. The bulk of letters received in the late 1960s to the 1980s were from university friends and colleagues, who often comment on McEwan's writings. Frequent correspondents include: Felicity "Flick" Allen, Julian Barnes, Polly Bide, Sue Birtwistle, Malcolm Bradbury, Carmen Callil, Jon Cook, Richard Eyre, Stephen Gerber, Ray Neinstein, Vic Sage, John Webb, and Angus Wilson. There is a considerable volume of letters from McEwan's mother, Rose, with occasional letters from his father David.
Later letters often relate to personal and professional occasions and life events; such as when McEwan received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2000, birthdays, weddings, publication congratulations, and similar sentiments. Correspondents include writers (e.g. Julian Barnes, Antonia Fraser, Jayne Anne Phillips, Harold Pinter, Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith, John Updike), artists (e.g. David Buckland), musicians (e.g. Paul McCartney and Mark Knopfler), politicians and statesmen (e.g. Tony Blair, Walter Veltroni), scientists (e.g. James Watson), literary critics (e.g. Amanda Craig, Frank Kermode), and many journalists.
Several folders of personal correspondence arrived at the Ransom Center with evidence of mold. The Center's Conservation Department has vacuum treated material in these folders, but mold spores may still be present. For health reasons, patrons may consider wearing gloves and a dust/mist respirator while handling this material. The treated folders follow the same organizational structure as the other personal correspondence, but are filed in box 70. Some folders of correspondence are still being treated and will be added to the collection once all treatment has been completed.
Professional correspondence begins in 1971 with a letter from Ted Solotaroff of the New American Review (later the American Review) wherein Solotaroff speaks to McEwan about his unique voice and promising future as a writer. Other professional correspondence includes letters from publishers, agents, fans, aspiring writers, universities, and other professional associates. A majority of letters are requests for appearances, interviews, signed books, charitable donations of books or money, permission for rights to adapt McEwan's work, and invitations to book and literary festivals. Requests also include letters from university students studying McEwan's works and posing questions regarding his writings and themes. There are many letters from students beginning in 1995 when A Child in Time was selected as a set text for A-level English literature exam by the Associated Examining Board.
The Professional Correspondence segment is in date order at the folder level; letters within folders are not specifically arranged. Contracts and travel itineraries for book tours are frequently filed within the professional correspondence. Beginning in approximately 1987, McEwan began to employ secretaries to answer his mail and a carbon copy of his secretary's response is often attached to the incoming letter. Among Ian McEwan's secretaries were Heather Mansell-Jones, Nicky Forsythe, Beth Coventry, Lesley-Ann Fairbrother (many outgoing attached 1989-1990), and Svetlin Stratiev.
Of particular interest is the correspondence between McEwan and American author John Updike; as well as McEwan's correspondence with the Writers Guild of America regarding arbitration to determine writing credits for the screenplay The Good Son.
'Publishers, etc.' was a file of incoming letters, contracts, and faxes from publishers and firms including Random House, Harper Collins, Jonathan Cape, Chatto and Windus, and Uitgeverij De Harmonie; however, letters from these companies are filed throughout the professional subseries. This folder also includes edits for Enduring Love, an Enduring Love page proof excerpt published in the New Yorker, and editorial feedback regarding a first draft screenplay called 'Flies' from The Forge (Fox Creative Group). Much of this correspondence is similar to what may be found in the other professional correspondence, but this was maintained in its original segment and arranged chronologically by the Ransom Center. Brief writings, such as speeches, essays, etc. were also in this segment, but were separated to the short works. A separation sheet within the first folder lists those works that were moved.
Many of the same correspondents are filed in more than one category. A list of correspondents found throughout the archive is provided in this guide's Index of Correspondents; however, routine mail (e.g. regarding home repairs), form letters, or basic cover letters (e.g. enclosed is a copy of your contract) aren't included in the index.
Letters from readers are arranged by decade, except for a small segment of letters from McEwan's friends and acquaintances regarding specific novels which McEwan kept separate. Many school-aged children wrote to McEwan regarding his children's book The Daydreamer and there are two folders of such letters (many with drawings).
Outgoing correspondence consists of a small segment of carbon letters, as well as hand-written letters (presumably drafts or correspondence that was transmitted via fax), and electronic files from McEwan to others. Of primary interest are the twenty to thirty letters McEwan wrote to his parents between 1976 and 1978 at the beginning of his writing career, just before and after his first book was published. In these letters, he details daily life with his then-wife Penny, family matters, and provides writing updates. These letters also cover his time teaching at the Iowa Writers' Workshop (in one letter, he describes his first American Thanksgiving). Also within this file, are postcards and photos from a 1986 visit to Singapore where McEwan appears to have visited previous places where the family lived while stationed there.
Series III. Personal and Professional contains papers, documents and electronic files related to McEwan's childhood, family life, and writing career. Appointment diaries, awards, contracts, family papers, notebooks, photographs, press clippings, printed material, publicity, scrapbooks, travel files, and university and school papers are found in this series. The materials are in alphabetical order by name or topic.
The appointment diaries span from 1974 to 2012 (excluding 1976) and list daily jottings and appointments.
Awards contains speech drafts, event programs, photographs, correspondence, and clippings. McEwan's appearance to accept the Jerusalem Prize in 2011 sparked controversy due Israel's role in the region's political unrest and included in this segment are notes and drafts of McEwan's acceptance speech as well as some of the press coverage of the event. Plaques and certificates were transferred to the Ransom Center's Personal Effects Collection.
Contracts contains some publishing, radio, television, and other contracts; however the majority of McEwan's publishing contracts are filed in the corresponding year with professional correspondence.
The family papers includes material associated with the David and Rose McEwan and Annalena McAfee families. Letters and items addressed to McEwan's wife, Annalena, as well as some German reviews of her first novel, The Spoiler, are filed in box 47. Of particular interest is the typescript of an oral history interview McEwan conducted with his father in 1989. In it, David McEwan warily answers questions about his childhood, serving in World War II, his military service, and meeting and marrying his wife Rose, all while carefully avoiding intimate discussion of his feelings. McEwan refers to this interview when later writing about the discovery of his unknown brother, David Sharp. Also present are some of David McEwan's military documents, his obituary, and a political essay on multilateralism. Related to Rose McEwan are scrapbooks she compiled to document Ian McEwan's writing career, condolence cards she received when her husband, David, died as well as a program and documents related to her memorial service. Two illustrated letters McEwan sent to each of his sons, Greg and Will McEwan, in March 1990 while traveling overseas includes sketches of each person's placement on the Earth and an explanation of the different time zones.
Forty-three notebooks of different sizes, roughly dating from 1970s to 2010, were used for both writing and personal purposes. The journals are not arranged in any particular order. Titles, if present, are taken from the covers and provided in single quotes; otherwise, they are listed based on their physical description. Many of the journals contain notes and ideas for McEwan's novels and writings including Saturday, Atonement, The Innocent, Solar, and On Chesil Beach. Personal notes include travel diaries, jottings and ideas, reminders and "to-do" notes, contacts, and notes from a metaphysical relationship workshop. When subjects and writings could be identified, they are listed in the container list. Most journals are undated and any dates provided in the container list were found within the notebook and may not be complete or comprehensive.
Photographs in the collection are black-and-white, color prints, and digital images and include publicity shots, informal snapshots, travel, and family photographs. The photographs are largely related to McEwan's private life with friends and family, but also many are related to his writing career and depict McEwan at home, receiving awards and honorary degrees, and at book readings. The digital images are organized into folders representing years 2004 through 2014 and mostly capture McEwan traveling with his wife Annalena, his sons, and close friends, as well as family photos taken at home. Photos of particular interest are McEwan's 'childhood' photos in box 48.8 which depict McEwan and his family overseas; as well as 'friends and travel' photos in box 48.11 which include photos of McEwan in the late 1960s through 1970s. Some friends pictured with McEwan include Julian Barnes, James Fenton and Darryl Pinckney, Jayne Anne Phillips, and traveling companions who accompanied McEwan to Afghanistan in the early 1970s. The segment of photos related to McEwan's films include him onset with Campbell Scott, Isabella Rossellini, Anthony Hopkins, John Schlesinger for The Innocent and with Giovanni Ribisi, Jesse Peretz, and Robert John Burke onset of First Love, Last Rites.
McEwan has been interested in political topics related to British politics, nuclear war, the environment, censorship, and the role of writers in society since the 1980s. The political files contain printed material, meeting minutes, and similar documents related to McEwan's involvement in political and social causes such as the Charter 88 group and June 20 Group which were formed as a direct response to Thatcherism in the 1980s and members included Harold Pinter, Antonia Fraser, and other artists and intellectuals.
There are ten boxes holding press clippings which document book reviews, best seller lists, and profiles of McEwan published in British, American, Canadian, Australian, and foreign language publications. For book reviews, the arrangement follows McEwan's general arrangement, which is divided between English-speaking and foreign-language press, and then within each of these categories, arranged by novel title. Reviews of film and television work, as well as author profiles and interviews contain primarily English-language clippings, but there is some foreign press interfiled. Reviews of film and television are arranged alphabetically by title and interviews and profiles are arranged by decade. Three folders contain clippings on assorted topics, primarily science and philosophy, which McEwan retained for research or reference. Many of these were sent to McEwan by his Dutch publisher Jaco Groot.
University papers arrived at the Ransom Center with evidence of mold. The Center's Conservation Department vacuum treated material in these folders, but mold spores may still be present. For health reasons, patrons may consider wearing gloves and a dust/mist respirator while handling this material. The treated folders follow the same organizational structure as other materials in this series, but are filed in box 71. Some documents are still being treated and will be added to the collection once all treatment has been completed.
Series IV. Works by Others is subdivided into two subseries and contains printouts and electronic files: A. About McEwan and His Works, 1988-2012, undated; and B. Other, 1976-2012, undated. Dissertations, theses, and university papers written by students studying McEwan's writings form the bulk of the first subseries; some of these are in French or Italian. Also contained in this subseries are essay typescripts, drafts of interview typescripts containing McEwan's edits (for inclusion by the interviewer), and other literary criticism. Subseries B. Other contains articles, poems, chapter drafts, short stories, and other works written by other writers and retained either for research or reference or because they were written by friends, family, and/or associates of McEwan. Also included are some adaptations of McEwan's works, such as Craig Raine's libretto Atonement and an unauthorized musical adaptation of a story from The Daydreamer. Other authors represented include Christopher Hitchens, Harold Pinter, and McEwan's stepdaughter Polly Tuckett. Of particular interest is the photocopy of a 1967 travel journal penned by McEwan and Mark Wing-Davey (his best friend at Woolverstone Hall) describing their hitchhiking trip to Athens.
Series V. Serials and Publications consist of entire issues of periodicals and other printed items containing works by McEwan, as well as interviews with and articles about him. Issues are in alphabetical order by title and the significance of each is noted within parentheses.

Related Material

For additional materials related to Ian McEwan at the Ransom Center, see manuscript holdings for: Mel Gussow, Paul Schrader, Jayne Anne Phillips, and Bananas (periodical).

Separated Material

Bound volumes were transferred to the Ransom Center Library.
Moving image material including VHS tapes and DVDs were transferred to the Ransom Center Moving Image Collection.
Two awards (Italian SPQR, 2002 and Premio Letterario Prato Europa, 1983) were transferred to the Ransom Center Personal Effects Collection.
Sound recordings including unpublished cassette tapes and compact discs containing interviews, readings, etc. were transferred to the Ransom Center Sound Recording collection and are described individually in a list at the end of this finding aid and in a searchable database.

Index Terms


Bradbury, Malcolm, 1932-2000.
Garton Ash, Timothy.
McAfee, Annalena.
Raine, Craig.
Updike, John.


University of East Anglia.


Authors, English--20th century.
English fiction--20th century.
Novelists, English--20th century.

Document Types

Digital images.
Electronic documents.
Electronic mail.
Electronic records.

Container List