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Writing by rote

Malcolm Bradbury taught Ian McEwan and his UEA writing classes became legendary. But this former pupil isn't so sure that Malcolm was worth the money

By Philip MacCann   March 2001

Someone once told me that Malcolm Bradbury was famous: he had taught Ian McEwan “how to write.” It had all happened amid the eerie, wind-swept Lasdun concrete of the University of East Anglia on its pilot MA in creative writing during 1970-71. McEwan was the only student. In the decade following his literary apprenticeship McEwan knocked off his first novella, The Cement Garden, which I believe to be one of the most achieved ever written, a rare masterpiece of literary art. A pure, simple, quiet sculpture of words, profoundly poetic; it blew my socks off.

I applied for the course…

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