Margaret Atwood Biography

Margaret Atwood (Full name Margaret Eleanor Atwood) is a celebrated Canadian poet, novelist, and literary critic. She is best known for her book The Handmaid’s Tale (1985).

She has published more than 50 books that have been translated into 30 languages. Although she is best known for her novels, her work spans different genres. She had published novels, poetry, graphic novels, non-fiction books, children’s books, short stories, and critical studies. She has also written screenplays and radio scripts.

Atwood was born on November 18, 1939, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Atwood did not attend school full-time until she was 12 years old. Instead, she spent most of her childhood in the backwoods of northern Quebec because of her father’s work. Her father, Carl Atwood, was an entomologist. With nothing much to do in the backwoods, she spent most of her time reading.

Atwood’s first published work was the pamphlet of poetry Double Persephone (1961). In the 1960s and 1970s, she continued to write and teach at different universities in Canada.

Atwood gained a lot of popularity after the publication of The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985. It is a dystopian novel set in future New England. It tells the story of life in Gilead under a theocratic dictatorship in what was formerly part of the United States.  The book features a group of women (known as ‘handmaids’) who are forced to produce children for the ruling class of men.

In 1990, The Handmaid’s Tale was turned into a film (starring Natasha Richardson) and later into a TV miniseries in 2017. The TV miniseries won multiple Emmy Awards, including for Outstanding Drama Series. Her latest work, The Testaments (2019), is the long-awaited sequel to The Handmaids Tale.

Atwood has won numerous awards for her writing including two Booker Prizes and the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

If you want to learn how to write from Margaret Atwood, check out her writing course on MasterClass. Learn more about MasterClass courses here.

Further Reading

Check out the articles below for quotes by Margaret Atwood and other accomplished writers.

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  • Sources Cited for Margaret Atwood’s biography

Margaret Atwood Official Website Biography

British Council Margaret Atwood Biography Margaret Atwood

Wikipedia Margaret Atwood