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First edition cover, artist Bill Botten

First Love, Last Rites is a collection of short stories by Ian McEwan. It was first published in 1975 by Jonathan Cape and re-issued in 1997 by Vintage.


The collection is McEwan's first published work and was regarded by the author (along with his second collection of short stories, In Between the Sheets) as an opportunity to experiment and find his voice as a writer. In an interview with Christopher Ricks in 1979, McEwan commented, "They were a kind of laboratory for me. They allowed me to try out different things, to discover myself as a writer." As a piece of work that portrays McEwan, the writer, at his youngest, it is perhaps fitting that the dominant theme is that of adolescence, of that blurry and perilous divide between childhood and adulthood; in addition themes of sex, perversion, and the grotesque in its many forms feature throughout.

Film adaptation

The title story was adapted for a 1997 film of the same name. The film stars Natasha Gregson Wagner as Sissel and Giovanni Ribisi as Joey. It was directed by Jesse Peretz.

Butterflies has been adapted twice for cinema. In 1988 by Wolfgang Becker under the German title Schmetterlinge and in 2005 by Max Jacoby under its original English title.

Solid Geometry was also adapted by Channel 4 in 2002. This short film adaptation was directed by Denis Lawson and stars Ewan McGregor as Phil and Ruth Millar as Maisie


  • Ryan, Kiernan: Writers and their Work: Ian McEwan (1994, Northcote House)

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