Margaret Atwood


"There is so much silence between the words..."

SOCI 4019
September 29, 1999.
An Overview of Works, Styles, and Themes

Margaret Atwood has written a great number of novels and other forms of literature. The
major press editions are as follows:


¨ 1964, The Cirle Game
¨ 1968, The Animals in That Country
¨ 1970, The Journals of Susanna Moodie
¨ 1970, Procedures for Underground
¨ 1971, Power Politics
¨ 1974, You are Happy
¨ 1978, Selected Poems
¨ 1978, Two-Headed Poems
¨ 1981, True Stories
¨ 1984, Interlunar
¨ 1987, Selected Poems II: Poems Selected and New, 1976-1986
¨ 1990, Selected Poems 1966-1975
¨ 1995, Morning in the Burned House

Short Fiction

¨ 1977, "Dancing Girls"
¨ 1983, "Murder in the Dark"
¨ 1983, "Bluebeard\'s Egg"
¨ 1991, "Wilderness Tips"
¨ 1992, "Good Bones"


¨ 1969, The Edible Woman 1985, The Handmaid\'s Tale
¨ 1972, Surfacing 1988, Cat\'s Eye
¨ 1976, Lady Oracle 1993, The Robber Bride
¨ 1979, Life Before Man 1996, Alias Grace
¨ 1981, Bodily Harm

Children\'s Books

¨ 1978, Up in the Tree
¨ 1980, Anna\'s Pet
¨ 1990, For the Birds
¨ 1995, Princess Prunella and the Purple Peanut


¨ 1972, Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature
¨ 1977, Days of the Rebels 1815-1840
¨ 1982, Second Words: Selected Critical Prose
¨ 1995, Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature


¨ 1982, The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse in English
¨ 1986, The Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English
¨ 1987, The Canlit Foodbook
¨ 1989, The Best American Short Stories
¨ 1995, The New Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English


Although many have used Margaret Atwoods style of writing poetry, not one has yet to
compete with her words. Typically, Margaret sticks to formal style of poetry, using
original text with separated stanzas. Margarets stlye of writing gives an overwhelming
effect to the reader; moreover, her style of writing adjusts to the theme of the particular


The essential features of Atwood’s fictions and poetry has been described as a search for
a personal and national identity. Survival is a central theme throughout her works, as is
the quest for self unity.


Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa, Ontario, on November 18, 1939. Because her
father was a forest entomologist, Atwood spent most of her childhood living in the
Canadian Wilderness. During the eight months of each year that her father did insect
research in the forest, the Atwood family lived in “a cabin with a wood stove and several
kerosene lanterns. There were bears and wolves and moose and loons” ( qtd. in “Author

While this lifestyle was exciting, she did not have most modern conviences and
technology. To entertain herself, Atwood read books. They became her only means for
entertainment and escape. “I read them all, even when they weren’t supposed to be for
children” (qtd. in “Author Profile”).

During this childhood of reading, Atwood also began to write. By the age of six,
ATwood was writing poems, morality plays, comic books, and an unfinished novel about
an ant. Ten years later, Atwood decided that she only wanted to write. She wanted to
live a double life; to go places she had not been before; to examine life on earth; to come
to know people in ways, and at depths, that were otherwise impossible; to be surprised;
and to give something of what she had received.

Two years after this life-altering decision, Atwood entered Victoria College at the
University of Toronto. She received her bachelor’s degree from Victoria College in
1961, and then went on to receive her Master’s degree from Radcliffe College in
Cambridge, Massachusetts. Atwood also received education from Harvard University in
Cambridge, Massachusetts, during 1962-63 and 1965-67.

Atwood began her career through self-publication. She sold these books for fifty cents
each. During this period, Atwood married Graeme Gibson, a fellow writer who was born
in London, Ontario, in 1934. Togehter, they have three grown children and two cats.

Although Atwood both grew up and resides presently in Canada, she ahs lived in
numerous cities throughout the world. The Canadian residences include Ottawa, Sault
Ste. Marie, Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Alliston, and Vancouver. In the United States,
Atwood has lived in Boston, Massachusetts, and in Alabama. She has also lived and
travelled in England, France, Italy , and Germany.

Geographical, Historical, Political and Social Influences

With respect to the fact that Atwood was raised, and spent most of her childhood in the
Canadian wilderness, it is safe to say that her geographical surroundings influenced her
in several ways. While residing in the wilderness of Canada, Atwood discovered her ture
passion - literature. Some say that if Atwood had not been in the wilderness, but rather
around the arising technology others were surrounded by, perhaps we would not have
such magical works in our presence today.

Although Atwood has struck upon many touchy subjects in literature, she has yet to