Margaret Eleanor Atwood

portrait of Margaret Atwood
Portrait by Yen Chung

Born: 18 November 1939, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Atwood spent much of her early years with her entomologist father in the north woods of Quebec, the isolation explains her early love of reading, and didn't start regular school attendance until sixth grade. She graduated from Leaside High School at Leaside, Toronto, graduating in 1957. She earned her BA in English from the Victoria College at the University of Toronto, received her MA at Radcliffe College under a Woodrow Wilson fellowship in 1961, and spent two years at Harvard but never turned in her doctoral dissertation. She taught at four different Canadian universities between 1965 and 1971, was the visiting MFA Chair at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in 1985, and was Berg Professor of English at New York University. Atwood started writing poetry at age sixteen, her first novel, The Edible Woman (1969), came eight years later, and she made her name with The Handmaid's Tale in 1985. She has claimed not to write science fiction (once dismissing the genre as "talking squids in outer space"), but the first year the Arthur C. Clarke Award was given, it went to her breakout novel. She has been shortlisted for Britain's Man Booker Prize five times, winning once, and was a finalist for the Governor General's Award seven times, winning twice. Perhaps to compensate for not completing her Harvard doctorate, she has at least sixteen honorary degrees.

Biography from Wikipedia and the British Council's Contemporary Authors page

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