Margaret Atwood Biography

Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

ph_0111226209-Atwood.jpg Margaret Atwood Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Margaret Eleanor “Peggy” Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario, on November 18, 1939, the second of three children of Margaret Dorothy (Killam) and Carl Edmund Atwood. Her father was an entomologist who conducted research in the bush country of Quebec and Ontario. Therefore, Atwood spent many of her summers at the family cottage exploring the Canadian wilderness until her family would return to Toronto for the school year. This connection to and exploration of the natural world would have a dramatic effect on her later writing.

Atwood’s passion for the creative arts began at a young age. Between the ages of eight and sixteen, she was more interested in painting and designing clothing than in writing. She jokingly calls this time her “dark period” because beyond these years, she was devoted to writing; however, she would go on to illustrate some of her books of poetry and to win respect as a painter.

Atwood wrote for the school paper during her teens at Leaside High School and contributed to the school magazine Clan Call. From 1957 to 1961, she attended the University of Toronto, where she pursued her B.A. in English. During her undergraduate career, she formed a bond with teacher and critic Northrop Frye. Her mentor introduced her to the poetry of William Blake, which would subsequently impact her own poetry. Even the titles of some of her books, such as Double Persephone (1961) and Two-Headed Poems (1978), reveal a double vision of mythic contradictions that stems from the influence of Blake’s writings. Even more important was her friendship with professor and poet Jay Macpherson, whose irony and formal choices are also reflected in Atwood’s work. After graduating with honors from her undergraduate studies and publishing numerous poems in the college’s magazines, Atwood completed her master’s degree in English at Radcliffe College, Harvard University, in 1963.

That year, Atwood took a position at a marketing research firm, which...

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Margaret Atwood Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Atwood is a multitalented writer with a flare for sardonic humor. In her novels, poetry, and short stories, she makes bold stylistic choices which resonate with the reader. Her concerns with feminist issues, with the struggle between humankind and the natural world, and with Canadian nationalism are inherent in her work. She is a voice of magnitude in her native land and a critic of Canadian matters of trade, culture, and foreign policy. Atwood’s pieces are studied in many secondary schools and universities worldwide. She has won a variety of prestigious awards throughout her career.

Margaret Atwood Biography (Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Margaret Eleanor Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on November 18, 1939. She grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. Following graduation from Victoria College, University of Toronto, she attended Radcliffe College at Harvard University on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, receiving a master’s degree in English in 1962. She taught at a number of Canadian universities and traveled extensively. In the early 1990’s Atwood was a lecturer of English at the University of British Columbia at Vancouver. She later settled in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson and their daughter, Jess.

Atwood’s output was steady in fiction and particularly in nonfiction. She made successful forays into the fields of script writing for film and musical theater, and she also produced notable novels. It is her prolific, passionate essay and article writing on a variety of national and international social issues, however, of which human rights is her central concern, that made her a bellwether of Canadian opinion. Her involvement with world political and social issues became evident in her vice leadership of the Writers’ Union of Canada and her presidency of the International Association of Poets, Playwrights, Editors, and Novelists (PEN), where she waged a vigorous battle against literary censorship. Her association with Amnesty International prompted an increasingly strong expression of her moral vision.

Margaret Atwood Biography (Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Margaret Eleanor Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on November 18, 1939, the second of Carl Edmund Atwood and Margaret Killam Atwood’s three children. At the age of six months, she was backpacked into the Quebec wilderness, where her father, an entomologist, pursued his special interests in bees, spruce budworms, and forest tent caterpillars. Throughout her childhood, Atwood’s family spent several months of the year in the bush of Quebec and northern Ontario. She did not attend school full time until she was twelve.

Though often interrupted, Atwood’s education seems to have been more than adequate. She was encouraged by her parents to read and write at an early age, and her creative efforts started at five, when she wrote stories, poems, and plays. Her serious composition, however, did not begin until she was sixteen.

In 1961, Atwood earned her B.A. in the English honors program from the University of Toronto, where she studied with poets Jay Macpherson and Margaret Avison. Her M.A. from Radcliffe followed in 1962. Continuing graduate work at Harvard in 1963, Atwood interrupted her studies before reentering the program for two more years in 1965. While she found graduate studies interesting, Atwood directed her energies largely toward her creative efforts. For her, the Ph.D. program was chiefly a means of support while she wrote. Atwood left Harvard without writing her doctoral thesis.

Returning to Canada in 1967, Atwood accepted a position at Sir George Williams University in Montreal. By this time, her poetry was gaining recognition. With the publication of The Edible Woman and the sale of its film rights, Atwood was able to concentrate more fully on writing, though she taught at York University and was writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto. In 1973, Atwood divorced her American husband of five years, James Polk. After the publication of Surfacing, she was able to support herself through her creative efforts. She moved to a farm near Alliston, Ontario, with Canadian novelist Graeme Gibson; the couple’s daughter, Eleanor Jess Atwood Gibson, was born in 1979. In 1980, Atwood and her family returned to Toronto, where Atwood and Gibson became active in the Writers’ Union of Canada, Amnesty International, and the International Association of Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, and Novelists (PEN).

Margaret Atwood Biography (Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

ph_0111201629-Atwood.jpg Margaret Atwood Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Margaret Atwood achieved fame with provocative novels and challenging poems while still a young woman. By age fifty she was acclaimed worldwide for her poetry, fiction, criticism, and essays. Quotable and frequently abrasive, she became a media celebrity as well. Two concerns remained foremost in her work: the self-realization of women and the cultural independence of Canada. To celebrate Canada was also to venerate its environment and respect the habitat of wild animals.

Atwood’s early years provided broad experience of North American life. The daughter of a University of Toronto scientist, she accompanied her father on field trips into the Quebec bush. After undergraduate work in Ontario, she attended Radcliffe on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. Since matrimony was expected of her generation and class, she dutifully married a Harvard student, whom she later divorced. Returning to Canada, she taught at several major universities.

In 1970, Atwood met the Canadian novelist Graeme Gibson, who was to be her permanent companion. Their daughter Jess was born in 1976, and a farm near Alliston, Ontario, became their home. Atwood and Gibson emerged as major figures in the lively Canadian literary scene. They were also untiring advocates of freedom for writers everywhere and spoke for Amnesty International.

Atwood’s critical survey of Canadian literature, Survival, was acknowledged as a major study. She described Canada, despite its richness of ethnic diversity, as a threatened cultural entity, intimidated by its giant neighbor. The one literary genre developed by Canadians had been, predictably, she believed, the realistic animal story. Canadians identified with animal prey, stalked through the bush by the heavily armed hunter from the south, the American.

Despite an anti-Americanism which even some of her compatriots labeled xenophobic, Atwood claimed her largest readership in the United States. Even before the North American women’s movement had identified its chief symbols and themes, The Edible Woman provided a definitive portrait of the female who sees herself as merely another consumer product. Sixteen years later, with The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood published a novel about a horrifying society built on female oppression. Readers valued Atwood for her ability to articulate their deepest apprehensions and entertain them with wittily crafted novels.

Margaret Atwood Biography (British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Margaret Eleanor Atwood was born into a family that encouraged inquiry and discovery. An important stimulus to her intellectual curiosity was certainly the family’s yearly sojourns in the remote bush of northern Ontario and Quebec, where Atwood’s father, an entomologist, carried out much of his study and research. It is likely that this environment shaped Atwood’s ironic vision and her imagery. Atwood’s writing, especially her poetry and her second novel, Surfacing, are permeated with her intimate knowledge of natural history and with her perception of the casual brutality with which the weak are sacrificed for the survival of the strong.

Studying between 1957 and 1961 for her undergraduate degree in...

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Margaret Atwood Biography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Margaret Eleanor Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario, on November 18, 1939, the daughter of Carl and Margaret Killam Atwood. In 1945, her father, who was an entomologist specializing in forest insects, moved the family to northern Ontario, the bush country that is featured in many of her works. Though the family returned a year later to Toronto, Atwood in later years would often visit the rural parts of Ontario and Quebec and spend a considerable amount of time at her country place. She attended high school in Toronto, and when she began writing at the age of sixteen, she had the encouragement of her high school teachers and one of her aunts. While attending Victoria College of the University of Toronto, she read Robert Graves’s...

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Margaret Atwood Biography (Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

As novelist, poet, literary critic, editor, and spokesperson for women’s rights, Margaret Atwood is an international figure whose ideas and beliefs about consumerism, environmental damage, censorship, militarism, and gender politics pervade her writing. Though most of her work is set in Canada and reflects the survival theme that she claims is distinctly Canadian, her dissection of human relationships transcends national boundaries. She focuses on geographical and emotional landscapes in which her protagonists journey, usually to nature or to the wilderness, in order to shed civilization’s influence, confront themselves, rediscover their true identities, and survive. Atwood’s style, regardless of the genre, is poetic in that...

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Margaret Atwood Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Margaret Eleanor Atwood is Canada’s foremost contemporary writer of novels, poetry, and literary criticism. She was born in Ottawa in 1939 to Margaret Killam Atwood and Carl Edmund Atwood, an entomologist. Her father’s university position and scientific research were responsible for his family’s dual life, spent both in Toronto and in the bush country of Quebec. After attending public school in Toronto, she enrolled at Victoria College, University of Toronto, where in 1961 she received her B.A. in English language and literature and was awarded the E. J. Pratt Medal for Double Persephone, a book of poetry.

After intermittent graduate study at Harvard University, where she was profoundly influenced by...

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Margaret Atwood Biography (Novels for Students)

Margaret Atwood Published by Gale Cengage

Margaret Atwood is often referred to as Canada’s greatest living writer. She was born on November 18, 1939, in Ottawa, Ontario. She wrote...

(The entire section is 404 words.)

Margaret Atwood Biography (Novels for Students)

Margaret Atwood Published by Gale Cengage

Margaret Atwood was born November 18, 1939, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to Carl Edmund (an entomologist) and Margaret Dorothy (Killam) Atwood....

(The entire section is 288 words.)

Margaret Atwood Biography (Novels for Students)

Margaret Atwood Published by Gale Cengage

Margaret E. Atwood, born in Ottawa, Canada, in 1939, spent most of her early years in the wilderness areas of Northern Quebec. She lived with...

(The entire section is 456 words.)

Margaret Atwood Biography (Novels for Students)

Margaret Atwood is one of the best-known Canadian writers of our day. She is certainly one of the most prolific authors in North America,...

(The entire section is 301 words.)

Margaret Atwood Biography (Novels for Students)

Margaret Eleanor Atwood was born on November 18, 1939, in Ottawa, Canada. Her father, Carl Edmund Atwood, was a forest entomologist; her...

(The entire section is 366 words.)

Margaret Atwood Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on November 18, 1939. She started reading and writing at an early age and was...

(The entire section is 552 words.)

Margaret Atwood Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Margaret Atwood was born on November 18, 1939, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Her childhood was divided between the city and the country. Her...

(The entire section is 383 words.)