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Margaret Atwood Biography
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
influenced her writing.
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
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