Ian McEwan

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Award-winning novelist Ian McEwan presented his new novel, “The Children Act,” at the Harry Ransom Center on Wednesday.

McEwan is well known for his short stories and novels for adults and has won various awards for his distinguished works, including “Amsterdam,” “First Love” and “The Child in Time.” 

The Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at the University, became home to McEwan’s archive in May. The archive includes drafts of his already published novels and some unpublished material from his adolescent career. 

McEwan said his newest novel was born from his interest in how one makes judgements.

“As ethical decisions are to be made on a daily basis, I began to take an interest in how judgments are made,” McEwan said. “It is not only judges who have to make verdicts.”

Virginia Reeves, a former member of the University’s Michener Center for Writers, who attended the presentation, said the McEwan archive is a great opportunity to get a closer look at information that only scholars or students writing their dissertations would be able to access.

“You get to see letters and drafts that have not been published, so I think it’s a wonderful thing,” Reeves said.

McEwan said the idea of judgements remains a focal point throughout the novel, first making an appearance in the first chapter. McEwan said his book is based on the idea that making judgments and verdicts often carries grave consequences.

Following the presentation, Ransom Center members and students formed long lines to buy copies of the novel and get an autograph from McEwan. 

Shannon Geison, a finance and government sophomore, said McEwan’s reading gave her a better understanding of his work that she read while she was in high school.

“In high school, I read ‘Atonement,’ which is probably regarded as his most famous book, and I absolutely loved it,” Geison said. “I really enjoyed seeing more of his work because I had only read one and was thus really excited to learn more about it and especially him reading it himself.”

Michener Center Director James Magnuson said McEwen’s presence was welcome at the Ransom Center as he is one of the most distinguished novelists of his generation.

“We are very happy to bring him back to Austin, and certainly any publication of Ian McEwan is reason enough for celebration,” Magnuson said. 

Ian McEwan

Photo Credit: Annalena McAfee | Daily Texan Staff

The Harry Ransom Center acquired the archives of English author Ian McEwan, and visitors to the center will be able to interact with them after they are processed.

Because of the Ransom Center’s interest in contemporary literature, center director Stephen Enniss said he believes McEwan’s archive will be a long-lasting resource to the community.

“Scholars engaged in original research will work with the archive in our reading room, and students who may be studying McEwan’s writing can work with the archive in one of the Ransom Center’s classrooms,” Enniss said. “In time, selected materials will be incorporated in future exhibitions that are open to all.”

Before the University announced the acquisition in May, the center had been in talks with McEwan to acquire the archive for over a year, according to Enniss. McEwan’s archives include journals, manuscript drafts, letters and other personal papers, which Enniss said would serve as the primary resource for future studies of McEwan’s work.

While McEwan’s work does contain handwritten materials, his collection also contains a large amount of digital content.

“McEwan himself embraced technology from an early date, and we’re delighted that he has systematically saved his extensive email correspondence with fellow writers and others,” Enniss said.

McEwan, whose works include "Atonement," a novel adapted into an Oscar-winning film, will speak on campus Sept. 10 to read from his most recent novel, "The Children Act."

“I’ve admired Ian McEwan’s writing for a long time,” Enniss said. “And when I saw the notebooks in which he worked out the plots of his novels, I knew this would be an extraordinarily rich resource for students and scholars for years to come.”