McEwan reunited with brother given away at birth

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The Independent Online

The award-winning author Ian McEwan has discovered a long-lost brother. Dave Sharp, 64, a bricklayer, tracked down McEwan, unaware that his brother was a renowned novelist. It was not until he was in his sixties that Mr Sharp discovered he was born as a result of a wartime affair, and was given away at a railway station to a family who answered an ad in a personal column.

The ad simply read: "Wanted, home for baby boy, age one month: complete surrender."

His mother, Rose Wort, was desperate to get rid of the child she had named Stuart before her husband returned from the war. She handed over her baby at Reading station.

But three years after her husband, Ernest Wort, died of stomach wounds suffered after the D-Day landings in 1944, Rose - who already had a son and daughter - went on to marry Mr Sharp's father, Regimental Sergeant Major David McEwan. The following year Ian McEwan was born.

The younger brother went on to become a literary phenomenon, with novels such as Atonement, The Cement Garden and Enduring Love.

Meanwhile Mr Sharp grew up with his new parents, Rose and Percy Sharp, and became a bricklayer. It was only at the age of 14 that he discovered he had been adopted but decided to make no further inquiries until his adoptive mother died eight years later.

To his frustration, all his adoptive father could reveal was that they had "got him out of a newspaper".

After his death he located his birth mother's newspaper advertisement but still chose not to act further.

"I was about to get married, buy a new house and get a mortgage, so I put it all on the back-burner for a while," said Mr Sharp, who has since written a book of his experiences.

Eventually, while in his fifties, he wrote to the Salvation Army's Family Tracing Service, which managed to track his half-brother and half-sister.

It eventually fell to an aunt to help piece together the final components of the puzzle and link Mr Sharp with McEwan.

"My mother swore her to secrecy on the way home on the train and she never breathed a word," said Mr Sharp. "She felt very guilty for telling me and betraying the trust, but also for conspiring against me."

The bricklayer was able to meet his mother, who was suffering from dementia, before she died in 2003.

But when he eventually met his famous brother he had no idea, he said, how well-known he was or that they had lived just a few miles from each other for many years. It was only interruptions from autograph hunters that gave it away.

"I had never heard of him at the time," said Mr Sharp.

"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."

Yesterday, McEwan said: "David got in touch with our family five years ago and it was a great surprise and pleasure to discover I had another brother. We welcomed him and his family into ours, and we kept in touch. We attended his daughter's wedding last year. I am sad that he never got the chance to know our parents."

Mr Sharp, from Oxford, has now followed in his brother's footsteps and written a book about his life called Complete Surrender, aided by a ghost-writer, John Parker.