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Margaret Atwood Biography

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    Novelist, poet, short story writer, critic, teacher, and feminist Margaret

    Eleanor Atwood was born on November 18, 1939. Born in Ottawa, Ontario,

    Atwood was the second of three children to Carl Edmond and Margaret Dorothy

    Killam Atwood. She went on to marry writer, Graeme Gibson, and give birth to a

    daughter named Jess. Atwood’s religion was that of Immanent Transcendentalist.

    During her childhood, she spent her summers in Northern Quebec while her

    father fulfilled aspirations of being a forest entomologist. Her time spent in

    Northern Quebec during her youth, was a significant influence on the novel

    Surfacing which was published in 1972. Upon coming out of what Atwood often

    refers to a her “dark period”, which took place from ages eight to sixteen, she

    began writing. In high school, her writing began to flourish and she began

    submitting her works to her high school newspaper. As she continued to

    contribute poetry, short stories, and cartoons to her high school’s paper, Canadian

    literary critic and historian Northrop Frye (1912-1991) influenced her writing.

    Frye also introduced her to the poetry of William Blake (1757-1827) which further

    Atwood received her Bachelor’s degree from University of Toronto, her

    Master’s from Radcliff College of Harvard University, and went into graduate

    study at Harvard University. After completing various studies, Atwood went on to

    spend a considerable amount of time teaching and lecturing. She taught English at

    the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (1964-65), Victorian and

    American Literature at Sir George Williams in Montreal (1967-68), Creative

    Writing at the University of Alberta, English at New York University in New York

    (1986). She worked as a writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto in

    Toronto (1972-73), the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa (1985), and

    Macquarie University in North Ryde, Australia (1987).

    Atwood published her first volume of poetry, Double Persephone, in 1961.

    Her second volume of poetry, The Circle Game, won the 1967 Governor General’s

    Award, Canada’s highest literary honor. Although Atwood was a feminist, in her

    book The Animals In That Country “there is nothing “feminine” about the poems.

    (Duyn 19). The publishing of her book The Handmaid’s Tale (1986) also won her

    the Governor General’s Award. The Handmaid’s Tale was filmed by Cinecom

    Entertainment Group in 1990. Within six months of moving to Vancouver to

    teach at the University of British Columbia, she completed her first novel The

    Edible Woman in 1964, but was not published until 1969. According to critic

    Millicent Bell, the book was “a work of feminist black humor” (Bell 19). Bell also

    notes that Atwood’s “imagination is too wacky and sinister for situation comedy”

    (Bell 19) in her review of The Edible Woman. The publication of her poetry

    collection Power Politics greatly increase her publicity.

    Margaret Eleanor Atwood has become a prominent figure in the

    contemporary literary realm. And as Linda Hutcheon has said “The many reviews

    and articles she has written… have contributed to making Atwood a significant

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