Name: Margaret Eleanor Atwood
Famous for: The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), Cat’s Eye (1988), Alias Grace (1996), Oryx and Crake (2003)
What makes her a revolutionary: Not many people need an introduction to Margaret Atwood. With the huge success of the TV adaptations Handmaid’s Tale, Alias Grace and the rights to the MaddAddam trilogy has been bought by Paramount, Atwood is as successful as ever in a career that has spanned almost sixty years.
Not many people need an introduction to Margaret Atwood these days. With the hugely successful television adaptations of Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace, and the rights to the MaddAddam trilogy having been bought by Paramount in 2018, Atwood is as successful as ever in a career that has spanned almost sixty years.
Atwood was born in Ottawa, Canada in 1939. Her father was an entomologist, so she spent a lot of her childhood in the scenic woodlands of north Quebec. She didn’t attend school full-time until the age of twelve, and spent a lot of her time reading. Because of her unique upbringing, she decided to become a writer at a young age.
Atwood started out as a poet. While lecturing at the University of British Columbia, Atwood published her first poetry pamphlet ‘Double Persephone’ in 1961, followed by ‘the Circle Game’ in 1966. But she was her most prolific in the 1970s, writing six poetry collections over the course of the decade. She wrote mostly about gender and sexual politics, and her works were largely feminist in theme – although she has been unwilling to use that label on herself, focusing more on the term ‘gender equality’.
In 1977, Atwood published her first short story collection, ‘Dancing Girls’, which won the St Lawrence Award for Fiction and the Periodical Distributors of Canada for Short Fiction. Then, in the 1980s, Atwood began publishing her first novels; Bodily Harm and The Handmaid’s Tale were both published before 1985 to critical acclaim, and Cat’s Eye was written before 1990.
Atwood’s reputation (and her subsequent accumulation of awards) has been mounting year on year ever since. Alias Grace (1996). Blind Assassin (2000), Oryx and Crake (2003) and MaddAddam (2013) were all huge successes. This year The Testaments, the sequel to Handmaid’s Tail, will be published. It will undoubtedly be an instant bestseller.
With countless awards, popular adaptations and an envious bibliography, no female writer is as relevant or as celebrated as Atwood is right now. With profound feminist and animal rights views that have strengthened over decades through strong, powerful literature, she truly is one of the most inspiring writers to have written dystopian fiction. Although she certainly has her critics, particularly when it comes to her politics, no one can deny her status as a revolutionary writer.