Bricklayer discovers long-lost brother is author Ian McEwan


Published: Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 12:11 a.m.
His books feature obsessive love, severed families and tragic twists of fate. Now author Ian McEwan's life has produced a tale as gripping as any in his fiction.
The Booker Prize-winning novelist has confirmed that he had an older brother, the product of a wartime affair. The baby was given away at a railway station to conceal his mother's infidelity.
McEwan said it had been "a surprise and a pleasure" to discover that he and bricklayer David Sharp, 64, were siblings.
The story emerged when Sharp, who had been adopted, decided to trace his birth family. His only link was a classified ad placed in an English newspaper in 1942: "Wanted, home for baby boy, age 1 month: complete surrender."
With the help of the Salvation Army's Family Tracing Service, Sharp discovered that his parents were Rose Wort, whose husband was fighting overseas, and a soldier, David McEwan. When Wort became pregnant, she arranged to have the baby adopted. A relative told Sharp he had been given away to his adoptive parents at the Reading railway station, west of London.
Wort's husband, Ernest, was killed in action in 1944. She married David McEwan, and in 1948 they had a son, Ian. David McEwan died in 1996; Rose in 2003.
Sharp also found that he had a half brother and half sister from his mother's first marriage.
"David got in touch with our family five years ago, and it was a great surprise and pleasure to discover that I had another brother," McEwan, 58, said in a statement released this week by his literary agents. "We welcomed him and his family into ours and we keep in touch.
"I am sad he never got the chance to know our parents."
Ian McEwan spent his childhood on military bases in Singapore and Libya before attending boarding school and university in England. As one of a generation of bold and often disturbing young writers to emerge in the 1970s, he gained literary acclaim with such books as "The Child in Time," "Enduring Love," "Atonement" and the Booker Prize-winning "Amsterdam."
The real-life story, tinged with tragedy, irony and chance, has echoes in McEwan's fiction.
"I have a great sense of the randomness of life," the author told The Associated Press in 2005. "Some people want to make me out to be a sort of gothic writer about horrors that intrude. I'm saying I'm reflecting what happens when peoples' lives are utterly transformed or destroyed by sudden events."
Sharp, who lives near Oxford in southern England, told the Oxford Mail newspaper he was unaware of his brother's fame until autograph-hunters approached them during an early meeting.
"I had never heard of him," Sharp was quoted as saying. "Of course, I've read all his books now, but whether he's a road-sweeper or an author is immaterial. He's just my brother to me."
Sharp could not immediately be reached for comment. The Salvation Army confirmed that it had helped him locate his siblings.
Sharp told the Oxford Mail he was working on a book about his story and had suggested that McEwan use the tale for a novel, "but he said it was my story and that therefore I should tell it."

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