Fame and maturity

Europe and The Handmaid’s Tale: 1984-6

In March 1984 the Atwood/Gibson family moved to Berlin for three months and Atwood started The Handmaid’s Tale. They moved on to Copenhagen and then back to Toronto, where she finished The Handmaid’s Tale, which was published in 1985. It was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 1986 and Atwood and Gibson flew to London for the award ceremony - but the prize went instead to Kingsley Amis’ The Old Devils.

Cat’s Eye, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Robber Bride: 1987-93

In 1987 Atwood was writing her novel Cat’s Eye, which was published in Canada in 1988, and in Britain and America the following year. In 1988 filming began of The Handmaid’s Tale, which was premiered in Berlin in the autumn of 1989. In 1991 Atwood gave the Clarendon lectures at Oxford on Canadian culture, and later travelled with Gibson to France where she began writing The Robber Bride, which was published in 1993.

Bereavement, praise and prizes: 1994-2000

In March 1992 Atwood’s father Carl had had another stroke and he died in January 1993. Atwood was deeply affected but continued writing, and the following year undertook a promotional tour of France and Scandinavia. In 1996 she published Alias Grace to critical acclaim; it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won Canada’s Giller prize. In 2000 she published The Blind Assassin, which won the Booker Prize.

Dystopias and feminism: 2003-10

In 2003 an opera based on Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale had its English premiere at the Coliseum, London. Meanwhile Atwood’s concern with ecological problems led to her writing two connected dystopian novels - Oryx and Crake, published in 2003 and shortlisted for the Man Booker prize, and The Year of the Flood, published in 2009. Margaret Atwood continues to be very much involved in environmental concerns, as can be seen on her blog. Her feminist writings continued with the publication of The Penelopiad - the story of Odysseus and Penelope seen from the wife’s perspective, published in 2005.

A selective bibliography of Atwood’s writing

Atwood is an extremely prolific writer in many genres. The following is a selection of some of her work - a full list can easily be found on the web.


  • Double Persephone: published 1961
  • The Circle Game: 1964
  • The Journals of Susanna Moodie: 1970
  • Snake Poems: 1983
  • Selected Poems 1966-84: 1990


  • The Edible Woman: published 1969
  • Surfacing: 1972
  • Lady Oracle: 1976
  • Life Before Man: 1979
  • The Handmaid’s Tale: 1985
  • Cat’s Eye : 1988
  • The Robber Bride: 1993
  • Alias Grace: 1996
  • The Blind Assassin: 2000
  • Oryx and Crake: 2003
  • The Penelopiad: 2005
  • The Year of the Flood: 2009

Critical lectures

  • Strange Things: the Malevolent North in Canadian Literature: 1995
  • Negotiating with the Dead: 2002
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