Background information

About Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is a Canadian writer and activist, and the author of The Handmaid’s Tale. Born in 1939, she grew up in rural Canada and did not attend school full time until she was 12 years old. She soon developed a love for literature and decided she wanted to become a writer. She enrolled at the University of Toronto and graduated with a BA in English in 1961, before beginning graduate studies at Harvard University, where she gained a master’s degree. 

After graduating, Atwood took on a series of roles teaching and lecturing at universities in the US and Canada, while also beginning her career as a writer. The first of her 18 books of poetry was published in 1961, while her first novel, The Edible Woman, was published in 1969. Many of Atwood’s early novels explore themes of gender, societal pressures, and national identity. 

In 1985, Atwood published her most famous novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. The book won the Arthur C Clarke Award and the Governor General’s Award, as well as being a finalist for the prestigious Booker Prize in 1986. Like some of her earlier work, the novel deals with questions of gender, feminism, and nationhood; these would remain key issues for Atwood...

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