Margret Atwood is known for her book The Handmaid’s Tale which has recently been made into a popular television series. Over her lifetime she has written numerous novels, essays, collections of poetry, and even graphic novels. Her first collection of poetry Double Persephone was published in 1961 and her first novel The Edible Woman followed in 1969. She is considered to be one of Canada’s best and most popular writers.
- Atwood was born in Ottawa in 1939.
- Atwood’s first collection of poetry was published in 1961.
- Atwood’s first novel, ‘The Edible Woman,’ was published in 1969.
- The Handmaid’s Tale was published in 1985.
- Her most recent novel is ‘The Testaments’, a sequel to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’
- Atwood started a doctoral degree but did not finish her dissertation.
- Her tenth novel, ‘The Blind Assassin,’ won the Man Booker Prize.
- She participated in the Canongate Myth Series in which popular authors retold classic mythological tales.
- Atwood knew by the time she was sixteen that she wanted to be a writer.
- Atwood has dozens of honorary degrees from universities.
Famous Books by Margaret Atwood
The Handmaid’s Tale is certainly Atwood’s most famous novel. In it, she depicts the intricacies of a totalitarian theocracy known as Gilead that has replaced the United States government. Women, such as the main character Offred, are forced to have the children of infertile elite couples and are completely stripped of their freedom. They are separated from any family members they may have had before and punished if they step out of line. The novel is one of the best examples of dystopian and speculative fiction ever written.
Oryx and Crake is not as well-known as The Handmaid’s Tale but has many similar characteristics. The novel is also set in the future, one that has is even more apocalyptic in nature than Gilead. In the book, Atwood follows the Snowman in one storyline and another character named Jimmy in the other. The latter explains the catastrophe that came over the world and the conception of the Crakers, a genetically manipulated group of beings that are able to thrive in the post-apocalyptic environment. The Blind Assassin follows Iris Chase as she explains the circumstances around her sister, Laura’s, death. The historical fiction novel won The Man Booker Prize and is one of Atwood’s most famous works. It is set in Ontario and many important events in Canadian history are alluded to as the story unfolds. Alias Grace is based on the real-life murders of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery. Grace Marks is convicted of the crime, sentenced to death, and then removed from death row to live out her sentence in Kingston Penitentiary. The Penelopiad is the shortest novel on this list. It is a retelling of the story of Penelope, wife of Odysseus, the main character in Homer’s Odyssey. The novel includes narration from the twelve maids who also feature in the original story and whom Odysseus has Telemachus kill. The novel sold well, featuring on bestseller lists in Canada after it was released. It is part of the Canongate Myth Series.
Recent Literary Accomplishment
More recently Atwood completed Oryx and Crake, the first in an apocalyptic science fiction trilogy which included The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam. Atwood was a participant in the Canongate Myth Series in which short novels were written as retelling and expansions of ancient myths. Her contribution was titled, The Penelopiad, and concerned Odysseus’s wife, Penelope, and the struggles she went through in his absence. More recently, Atwood published Hag-Seed which was a retelling of The Tempest, a play by William Shakespeare. It was part of another series developed by Penguin Random House. Her most recent novel is The Testaments, a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale.
Influence from other Writers
Margaret Atwood was notably influenced by writers such as George Orwell, Alice Munro, Virginia Woolf, William Shakespeare, and Ray Bradbury.
Literature by Margaret Atwood
Explore literature by Margaret Atwood below, created by the team at Book Analysis.