Margaret Atwood

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"The true story is vicious
and multiple and untrue
after all. Why do you
need it? Don't ever
ask for the true story."
       —True Stories  (1981)
Portrait of Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood Biography

Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on Nov. 18, 1939. Her father, Carl Atwood, was a forest entomologist, whose work, studying insects, kept the family in the forests of Ontario for much of her childhood. In her seventh year, her family moved to Toronto. She attended the University of Toronto, majoring in English, with minors in Philosophy and French. She received her BA with honors in 1961, after which she went on to get her master's degree from Radcliffe College in Massachussets, in 1962. She did two two-year periods of study at Harvard for her Ph.D., but writing was paramount, and she never finished.

Margaret Atwood self-published her first collection of poems, Double Persephone, in 1961. The Circle Game was published by Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1964 and won the governor general's award for poetry. Since then, over 15 collections of her poetry have been published, many running several editions, and individual poems have appeared in magazines and journals too numerous to mention.

In 1967, Atwood married Jim Polk, a fellow writer, but the couple drifted apart after a few years and separated. Atwood's first novel, The Edible Woman, was published in 1969. The story about a woman who cannot eat and feels as if she herself is being eaten, was well ahead of its time. Around the time of her second novel, Surfacing (1972), Atwood married Graeme Gibson and moved to the small community of Alliston, Ontario with Gibson and his two young sons. In 1976, the couple welcomed their daughter, Jess Atwood Gibson. The couple remain happily married to this day.

Her next books, Lady Oracle (1977), Life Before Man (1979), and the profoundly disquieting Bodily Harm (1981) gained her further critical acclaim. In 1982, her first collection of short stories, Dancing Girls and Other Stories was published. Her best-known work the world over, The Handmaid's Tale (1986), got Atwood short-listed for the Booker Prize. A novel about a futuristic dystopia, where women are dehumanized into mindless wombs, it also garnered millions of new readers worldwide, and a fervently loyal readership. The wonderful book was later turned by Hollywood into a lump of a movie.

The Handmaid's Tale was followed by Cat's Eye (1989), about bullying among schoolgirls; it, too was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Next came The Robber Bride (1993), about the mysterious meanness of women toward women, and Alias Grace (1996), the story of a woman convicted of murder, who claims to have amnesia; and again Atwood was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. The elusive prize was won by The Blind Assassin, in 2000. Her most recent works of fiction are Oryx and Crake (2003), The Penelopiad (2005), The Tent (2006), and Moral Disorder (2006).

Atwood is also a beloved children's book author. Her first children's book was Up In The Tree (1978), which she herself illustrated in charming, naive two-color pictures. It was followed by Anna's Pet (1980) and For The Birds (1990), and the delightfully illustrated Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut (1995). Her latest children's books are Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes (2003) and Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda (2004).

With all these works to her credit, Atwood also excels in the field of non-fiction. These writings include literary criticism, studies, autobiographical essays, book reviews, political essays, eulogies, ecological writings, and other journalism and essays. Written with her energetic style, keen intellect and dry wit, these collections of her non-fiction further affirm Margaret Atwood as one of the most noteworthy writers of our time.  —A. Jokinen

 
Works

 Novels


Short Fiction Collections

Poetry Collections
  • The Circle Game, 1964.
  • The Animals in That Country, 1969
  • The Journals of Susanna Moodie, 1970.
  • Procedures for Underground, 1970.
  • Power Politics, 1971.
  • You Are Happy , 1974.
  • Selected Poems, 1976.
  • Two-Headed Poems, 1978.
  • True Stories, 1981.
  • Interlunar, 1984.
  • Selected Poems II, 1986.
  • Selected Poems, 1990.
  • Margaret Atwood Poems 1965-1975, 1991.
  • Morning in the Burned House, 1995.
  • Eating Fire, 1998.

Children's Books
  • Up in the Tree, 1978.
  • Anna's Pet, 1980.
  • For the Birds, 1990.
  • Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut, 1995.
  • Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, 2003.
  • Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda, 2004.

Non-Fiction Books
  • Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature, 1972
  • Days of the Rebels 1815-1840, 1997.
  • Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, 1982.
  • Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature, 1995.
  • Two Solicitudes: Conversations, 1998.
  • Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing, 2002.
  • Moving Targets: Writing with Intent 1982-2004.
  • Curious Pursuits, 2005.
Divider

Margaret Atwood's Works


 Novels


Poetry Collections
  • The Circle Game, 1964.
  • The Animals in That Country, 1969
  • The Journals of Susanna Moodie, 1970.
  • Procedures for Underground, 1970.
  • Power Politics, 1971.
  • You Are Happy , 1974.
  • Selected Poems, 1976.
  • Two-Headed Poems, 1978.
  • True Stories, 1981.
  • Interlunar, 1984.
  • Selected Poems II, 1986.
  • Selected Poems, 1990.
  • Margaret Atwood Poems 1965-1975, 1991.
  • Morning in the Burned House, 1995.
  • Eating Fire, 1998.


Short Story Collections


Children's Books
  • Up in the Tree, 1978.
  • Anna's Pet, 1980.
  • For the Birds, 1990.
  • Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut, 1995.
  • Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, 2003.
  • Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda, 2004.


Non-Fiction Books
  • Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature, 1972
  • Days of the Rebels 1815-1840, 1997.
  • Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, 1982.
  • Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature, 1995.
  • Two Solicitudes: Conversations, 1998.
  • Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing, 2002.
  • Moving Targets: Writing with Intent 1982-2004.
  • Curious Pursuits, 2005.

Divider




Resources


Biographical
- Robert Potts, The Guardian
Biography - Bloomsbury
Margaret Atwood's Tale - Joyce Carol Oates
Biography - The Canadian Encyclopedia
Biography - BBC
Biography - The British Council
Biography - Kuusankoski Library
Four Days Chez Margaret Atwood - Joe Mahoney


Interviews
Canadian Living (2006)
Interview: Oryx and Crake Site
The Independent (Oct 2005)
The Guardian (Apr 2004)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Apr 2004)
The Independent (Apr, 2004)
Deseret Morning News (Mar 2004)
Interview by Allan Gould (2000)
Interview by Linda Richards, January Magazine (Nov 2000)
The Sunday Herald (Oct 2000)
Mother Jones (July 1997)
Interview by David Wiley, Minnesota Daily (Mar 1997)
Salon (Jan 1997)
NY State Writers Institute (Jan 1994)


Poetry


Articles, Speeches, and Excerpts
Excerpt: Mortification
- The Guardian

The Guardian, 2006
The Nation, 2003

This Magazine, 1996




Lecture: Waterstone's Poetry Lecture, 1995
Margaret Atwood's Reviews on Books in The New York Review of Books


Audio and Video

Atwood and Religion, Part 1/3 - PBS, 2005
Atwood and Religion, Part 2/3 - PBS, 2005
Atwood and Religion, Part 3/3 - PBS, 2005
Bill Moyers' Video Interview of Margaret Atwood - PBS
4 Poem Readings by Margaret Atwood - The Poetry Archive
Audio and Video Clips from O.W. Toad
2003 Talking Volumes Interview - MPR Books
Radio and TV Interviews from CBC Archives - CBC
Margaret Atwood at the 92nd St YMCA - NY Times
1996 BBC Interviews - BBC
1986 Interview with Don Swaim - Wired for Books


Other Margaret Atwood Sites
O. W. Toad — Margaret Atwood Reference Site (Official)
Margaret Atwood's Speaker's Agent - The Lavin Agency
The Margaret Atwood Society


Miscellaneous Resources
Dave Carley's Play "Edible Woman"
For God and Gilead: The Handmaid's Tale, the Opera - Atwood for The Guardian, 2003


Awards for this Site


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This page created on December 22, 2006 by Anniina Jokinen. Last updated February 7, 2007.

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