Margaret Atwood – About
Margaret Atwood (b. 1939) was born in Ottawa, Canada. Her father was an entomologist, and Atwood spent a large portion of her early years in the wilderness of Northern Quebec. These childhood experiences fostered the metaphysical preoccupation with nature found in much of her work. At the age of seven Atwood’s family moved to Toronto. She received her B.A. from the University of Toronto and M.A. from Radcliffe College. In 1961 she published her first collection of poetry, Double Persephone, which won the E. J. Pratt Medal. She began work on a Ph.D. at Harvard University, but left before she completed the degree to teach English at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Atwood held various teaching positions in Canada while working on her second poetry collection The Circle Game, published in 1964 and won the YWCA Women of Distinction Award and Governor General’s Award in 1966. While working as an editor at the Toronto publishing house Anansi, Atwood published her controversial study of Canadian Literature Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972). The book outlined Atwood’s attempt to define a purely Canadian literature, and, though some people did not agree with her conclusion that the key theme in Canadian literature is victimization, it signified the beginning of Atwood’s desire to create a stronger national identity. Also at this time she published her first novel, The Edible Woman (1970), which established her as an important feminist critic as well. She continued to publish well-received novels and poetry throughout the 1970s, including her first book of short stories Dancing Girls and Other Stories in 1977. In 1986 she published The Handmaid’s Tale, a book that won numerous awards including The Los Angeles Times Book Award (1986), the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction, and the Commonwealth Literature Prize (both 1987) and was adapted for the screen in 1990. She has published over 50 acclaimed books of poetry, fiction, and criticism, and her most recent the novel, The Blind Assassin, was published in 2000.