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Margaret Atwood  

Perhaps Canada's best known author, Margaret Atwood is the author of several novels, collections of poetry and literary criticism. She is the winner of numerous awards.
Last Updated: Jun 9, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Margaret Atwood ( 1939-)



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The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
Call Number: PR 9199.3 .A8 H3 2006
ISBN: 9780307264602
Publication Date: 2006-10-17


Brief Biography

Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa Ont. on November 18, 1939.  Her mother was a nutritionist and her father was a research entomologist.  As a child she and her family spent many summers and early fall in the wilds of northern Ontario and Quebec where her father could conduct his research.  She loved her summers deep in the woods.  These experiences perhaps contributed to her self-reliance and independent thinking.   As the child of well educated parents, she loved to learn and read.   She graduated from the University of Toronto in 1961.   She also attended  Radcliffe College  (M.A.)  and  Harvard University where she studied for a Ph.D. but did not complete her dissertation.  She had an interest in writing  and reading from an early age.  She spent the long, cold winters of Canada reading. People who know her today report that she is extremely well read and eager to learn new things.  She is always working.  She is the author of over forty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. 

Atwood began her career as a poet.  Her first volume of poetry ( 1961) won an award.  This work was followed by several other collections of poetry.  Despite her fine reputation as a poet, Atwood is best known for her fiction.  Her first novel, "The Edible Woman" ( 1969) is a comment on the all pervasive consumerism in modern society.  Other novels followed, mostly with a woman as the main character.  He best known novel "The Handmaid's Tale" ( 1985) cemented her reputation.  It is a dystopian novel, set in the former United States. Atwood was influenced by George Orwell and Perry Miller, a scholar of American Puritanism and one of Atwood's professors while she was a graduate student at Harvard.  In this novel, the United States has become a totalitarian theocracy, ruled by Puritanical men.  A small group of women - the only ones capable of having children- are handmaids used as breeders.  Women have few if any rights.  More novels followed, each becoming more complex.

Atwood also had a teaching career, acting as a visiting professor at several Canadian and American universities.  She keeps herself very busy--she has her own webpage, has written a graphic novel with a fellow Canadian, children's books and even runs a company called Syngrafi.  The company deals with remote writing technology.  Atwood holds several patents based on this technology.

Atwood grants interviews .  Many of these can be found on Youtube.   She can be feisty during interviews and is not afraid to express her very strong opinions on controversial topics: women's rights, the environment, the fate of democratic institutions.      She currently lives in Canada with her partner, Graeme Gibson  They are the parents of one daughter.

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