Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood, an internationally acclaimed novelist, poet and critic, who has touched the hearts of millions through her writing, was born in the wilderness of Ottawa, Ontario on the November 18 , 1939. She began writing morality plays, comic books and poems at the early age of 6, later in high school she became more committed to writing poetry. As a teenager, she took inspiration from the dark and mysterious stories of Edgar Allen Poe. At the age of sixteen, she took up writing as a life time career. She got her bachelors degree from Victoria College, University of Toronto in 1961 and later, she earned her master’s degree in English literature from Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1962.

Margaret has authored more than forty volumes of poetry, fiction, non-fiction as well as children’s literature. Among her most acclaimed works are The Edible Woman (1969), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won her the eminent Booker Prize in 2000.

Through her poems and novels, Margaret puts forward a debate which reflects the workings of society, civilization and especially nature, ‘wilderness’ which she is extremely fond of because of her childhood memories of spending half of each year in the northern Ontario wilderness, where her father worked as an entomologist (insect scientist). Her work repeatedly pits the society against the wilderness, where the society reflects the constraints of humanity and civilization while wilderness is the impulsiveness, desires and carnal urges present in every human being. Her work illustrates how to protect oneself from being a captive of ‘wilderness’ and navigating one’s way from wilderness to the confines of civilization. She condemns materialism and is celebrated for her blunt feministic views. Her typical protagonist is a modern woman pitted against the constraints of society, while the antagonists are men who try to undermine all rights expect the right to get married, set up a home and reproduce, playing the all-too-friendly enemy the whole time.

Margaret Atwood’s work also revolves around the themes of death, in which she introduces her readers to the eventuality of death, the decaying of the body and mourning. She can be seen mourning for the death of her father in some of her poems, however, at the same time she is seen as rejecting the idea of self-pity even though she does not hold back from displaying strong emotions.  Also, the symbols of snakes and the moon are prevalent in her poetry, the snake depicting the traits of sexuality and wisdom whereas the moon, she takes from her love for the nature and portrays it as a silent goddess which is a nonchalant observer of the undertakings of the world and the humans residing in it.

Moreover, she repeatedly takes up the portrayal of the female body in her poetry, depicting its vulnerabilities and insecurities and goes on to write about the victimization and imprisonment a woman has to face at the hands of the males of the society in a brutal struggle for survival. She also highlights the differences between the body and the soul of the female, describing the essence of the spirit as different from the flesh.

Her poetry also addresses far reaching contemporary and global issues such as the struggles of personal relationships, political and power, feminism, environment etc. providing a visionary and emotionally evoking message for her readers. ‘February’, ‘Siren Song’, ‘Miss July Grows Older’ ‘Speeches for Dr Frankenstein’, ‘The Journals of Susanna Moodie’ are a few of her most celebrated works of poetry.

Margaret Atwood is one of the most celebrated living writers in the world and she continues to inspire her readers in more than twenty-five countries through her work, while residing in Toronto.


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