She was already hugely successful, but since the Emmy Award-winning series The Handmaid’s Tale, based on her 1985 novel, Margaret Atwood has become a literary icon. The red robes and white bonnets of the handmaids have become a worldwide symbol of female resistance to oppression.
The self-assured grande dame and key figures from her life talk about her history: her childhood in the forests of Northern Ontario, growing up with the constrictions of the 1950s (women were supposed to stay at home, but she moved to Harvard to study English), her activism and of course her writing skills.
In 1984, surrounded by the walls of West Berlin, she started writing her famous dystopian story about power relations and misogyny, partly inspired by the conservative backlash that followed the freedom of the 1960s and 1970s. The equally oppressive sequel The Testaments was recently published. Now 79, Atwood looks at all the fuss surrounding her “renaissance” with a wry sense of humor, and all the insight of someone who has lived a long life—and who gave us a warning decades ago.