Associations: Margaret Atwood was President of the Writers' Union of Canada from May 1981 to May 1982, and was President of International P.E.N., Canadian Centre (English Speaking) from 1984-1986. She and Graeme Gibson are the Joint Honourary Presidents of the Rare Bird Society within BirdLife International. Ms. Atwood is also a current Vice-President of PEN International.
In Margaret Atwood: Once in August, filmmaker Michael Rubbo attempts to discover what shapes the celebrated writer's fiction and what motivates her characters. As one of Canada's most distinguished poets and novelists, Atwood is also one of this country's most elusive literary figures.
Margaret Atwood was born on November 18, 1939, in Ottawa, Canada, the second of three children. Her father was an etymologist assigned to a research station in the chilly northlands of Quebec where there were no theaters and poor radio reception; so, Atwood decided to become a writer. She thought that in order to do so and be of any importance, she would have to become mysterious and aloof, sickly and enigmatic--that she would have to live in a garret, dress in black, smoke cigarettes, drink absinthe, and have lovers whom, she said, "I would discard in appropriate ways, though I drew the line at bloodshed. (I was, after all, a nice Canadian girl.)"