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Margaret Atwood: Revered Canadian Author and Activist

Full Name Margaret Eleanor Atwood
Age 83
Birthday November 18, 1939
Birthplace Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Relationship Status Longtime partner Graeme Gibson (deceased)
Height 5‘ 4"
Net Worth $20 million
Social Media Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Margaret Atwood is one of Canada‘s most acclaimed literary figures. As an author, poet, inventor and environmental activist, she has created unforgettable works while advocating for causes she believes in. Born in Ottawa, Atwood began writing in childhood and found inspiration in fairy tales, Canadian fables and comic books. She went on to pursue English literature, earning degrees at the University of Toronto, Radcliffe College and Harvard.

Early Life and Major Influences

Atwood spent her early years traveling between northern Quebec and Ontario due to her father‘s entomology research. She attributes her close connection to the Canadian wilderness to the time exploring forests in her youth. As an introverted child, Atwood found solace in books and started writing stories and poems around age 6. She completed her first novel at 16 while attending Leaside High School.

Some major literary influences Atwood cites from her adolescence include Charles Dickens‘ Great Expectations, George Orwell‘s 1984, Edgar Allan Poe and Robert Graves. Reading classic and dystopian fiction shaped her creative perspective. She also credits Canadian writers like Lucy Maud Montgomery, Stephen Leacock and Robertson Davies for sparking her interest in her nation‘s literature.

Becoming a Literary Force

Atwood‘s writing career flourished early on. While still an undergraduate student, she published her first book of poetry Double Persephone in 1961. She followed this with her first novel The Edible Woman in 1969, quickly establishing herself as one of Canada‘s most prominent young writers. Some highlights of her major literary works include:


  • The Handmaid‘s Tale (1985) – Her seminal dystopian work portraying a totalitarian state in New England where women are forced into reproductive slavery. It chillingly captured concerns around declining fertility rates and women‘s rights in the 1980s.
  • Cat‘s Eye (1988) – A coming-of-age novel recounting the difficult childhood of controversial painter Elaine Risley, who reflects on her bully and her own strange artwork.
  • The Robber Bride (1993) – Revolving around three women friends and their nefarious former college friend Zenia, who ruined their lives in different ways.
  • Alias Grace (1996) – A fictional retelling of the notorious 1843 murders committed by Grace Marks, a young Irish servant in Canada. Atwood bases this on historical research.

Poetry Collections

Atwood‘s poetry frequently examines the natural world, myths and feminine identity. Notable works include:

  • The Circle Game (1964) – Her first published poetry collection focusing on the inevitability of loss, change and time using clever metaphors.
  • Power Politics (1971) – Combines a recurrent nature motif with themes of romantic relationships as power struggles.
  • The Door (2007) – Evocative poems inspired by Atwood‘s interest in doors as symbols and metaphors.


Atwood‘s non-fiction writing display her intellect and activism:

  • Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972) – A major work analyzing recurring themes like survival and Canadian identity in Canadian fiction.
  • Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature (1995) – Part of the Massey Lectures where Atwood examines how the harsh Canadian North is portrayed in literature.

Unique Writing Style and Voice

Atwood‘s writing shines with strong visual imagery and symbolism. She expertly employs irony and satire to explore complex themes. Her style marries realism with wry wit and metaphors that evoke vivid scenes. Atwood writes frankly about sexuality, exposes societal hypocrisy, and brings in autobiographical elements like her paintings and travels into her works. Her bold feminist voice and mastery of language cement her reputation as a brilliant storyteller.

Activism and Environmentalism

Beyond writing, Atwood actively supports environmental causes as a Greenpeace campaigner and as president of the Rare Bird Society. She also helped found organizations like the Writers‘ Union of Canada to advocate for author‘s rights. Atwood considers herself a feminist and human rights defender in both her works and public life.

Lasting Influence

Atwood has influenced generations of readers worldwide. She has brought recognition to Canadian literature and provided insightful commentary on women‘s issues, politics, nature and human relationships. Her poetry and novels will continue inspiring readers, while timeless works like The Handmaid‘s Tale will remain potent warnings about losing personal freedoms. Without a doubt, Margaret Atwood has secured her place as one of the world‘s greatest living authors.


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