novelist and poet, born in Ottawa
on 18 November 1939. She graduated from the University of Toronto
in 1961, then lived in Boston till 1963, studying at Radcliffe
. She has taught English in a number of universities in Canada and across the world, has been a writer in residence
in Sydney and San Antonio, and has been president of the Writers' Union
in Canada. She now lives in Toronto. She grew up in a family full of scientists, so she has always kept up with science and reads it at a non-specialist level but enough to make good use of it in her writing.
Her novels have been
Her volumes of poetry have included
Her volumes of short stories have included Bluebeard's Egg
Several times shortlisted for the Booker Prize (for The Handmaid's Tale, Cat's Eye, and Alias Grace, she won it in 2000 with The Blind Assassin. She won the Governor General's Award for The Circle Game and The Handmaid's Tale. The latter was made into a 1990 film by Volker Schlorndorf, scripted by Harold Pinter.
Most people outside Canada probably became familiar with her work with the success of the dystopian The Handmaid's Tale. I think I am not alone in saying her earlier novels might be somewhat of a disappointment after that. The later ones have received greater acclaim. The best part of her prose, to me, is where it approaches most closely the mood of her poetry.