Margaret Atwood, born on 18 November 1939, is a famous Canadian writer who has authored many poems, short stories and novels. Atwood is also a feminist, literary critic, and political activist. In addition to receiving national and international awards for her writing, Margaret Atwood is a member of the Order of Canada. This membership is the highest honor that is awarded to Canadian civilians.
Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario to the zoologist Carl Edmund Atwood, and Margaret Dorothy Killiam, who worked as a dietician and nutritionist. She was one of three children. Because of her father’s career, Atwood spent a great deal of her youth in the forests of Northern Quebec. There, Carl Atwood conducted his research in forest etymology. His work also took him on regular trips to major Canadian cities. His regular travel between urban and desolate areas made for an untraditional education for his children. In fact, Margaret did not complete a full year of school until she was in the eighth grade.
A good deal of Atwood’s education was provided by her parents and fueled by her own curiosity. She became a voracious reader early in life and plowed through many classic texts at a young age. She began writing at the age of sixteen, while she was attending Leaside High School in Toronto. After high school, Atwood studied English, Philosophy, and French. Her undergraduate degree was followed by a Master’s Degree at Harvard’s Radcliffe College. Although Atwood spent four additional years pursuing a PhD at Harvard, she has never completed her final degree.
Margaret Atwood’s novels include The Edible Woman (1961), Surfacing, (1972), Lady Oracle (1976), and Bodily Harm (1981). Life Before Man (1979), Cat’s Eye (1988), The Robber Bride (1996), The Blind Assassin (2000), and Oryx and Crake (2003) were all finalists for the Governor General’s Award. The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) won the 1987 Arthur C Clarke Award and the 1985 Governor General’s Award. The Blind Assassin won the prestigious Booker Prize. In addition to publishing novels, Margaret Atwood has published over a dozen poetry collections and numerous collections of short fiction. She has also published a number of essays and has been interviewed by many different literary magazines, journals, and other publications.
Atwood has been married twice. In 1973, she divorced husband of five years Jim Polk. Not longer after, she married again. She and her second husband, Graeme Gibson, had a daughter, Eleanor Jess Atwood Gibson who was born in 1976. Atwood lives in both Toronto and Pelee Island, Ontario.