In 2007, Canada's National Arts Centre and Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company co-produced a play by celebrated Canadian Author, Margaret Atwood. It was the first time the two organizations had ever collaborated.
With a cast drawn from both nations, The Penelopiad received rave reviews when it premiered on both sides of the Atlantic. It has since been staged many times in the UK and North America, and – accomplishing another goal of its creator – The Penelopiad is often performed by students in high school and university drama programs.
"I don’t think it would have become a full-length play without the NAC," Atwood said. "Their support was instrumental."
When asked why the arts matter, she responded, "The arts are at the core of our nature. Dragonflies can get along fine without Shakespeare. But there is no human culture that does not narrate, make music, or manipulate the visual. The arts are inseparable from who we are as people."
Together nine visionary Canadian women known as the Penelope Circle, provided critical financial support for this production inspiring a renewed commitment at the NAC to the creation of Canadian works.
Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa, and grew up in northern Ontario and Quebec, and in Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master’s degree from Radcliffe College.
Margaret Atwood is the author of more than forty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction, but is best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1969), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Her newest novel, MaddAddam (2013), is the final volume in a three-book series that began with the Man-Booker prize-nominated Oryx and Crake (2003) and continued with The Year of the Flood (2009). The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short fiction) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, a collection of non-fiction essays appeared in 2011. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth was adapted for the screen in 2012. Ms. Atwood’s work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian.
Margaret Atwood currently lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.
Born: 18 November, 1939. Ottawa, Ontario.
Education: Victoria College, University of Toronto, B.A., 1961; Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Mass., A.M., 1962; Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., 1962-63, 1965-67.
Places of Residence: Ottawa, 1939-45; Sault Ste. Marie, 1945; Toronto, 1946-61; Boston, Mass., 1961-63; Toronto, 1963-64; Vancouver, 1964-65; Boston, Mass.1965-67; Montreal, 1967-68; Edmonton, 1968-70; England (London), France, Italy, 1970-71; Toronto, 1971-73; Alliston, Ontario, 1973-80; Toronto, 1980-83; England, Germany, 1983-84; Alabama, 1985; Toronto, 1986-91; France, 1992; Toronto, 1992-present.
Employment: Lecturer in English, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 1964-65; Instructor in English, Sir George Williams University, Montreal, 1967-68; University of Alberta, 1969-70; Assistant Professor of English, York University, Toronto, 1971-72; Writer-In-Residence, University of Toronto, 1972-73; M.F.A. Honorary Chair, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1985; Berg Chair, New York University, 1986; Writer-In-Residence, Macquarie Univ., Australia, 1987; Writer-In-Residence, Trinity Univ., San Antonio, Texas, 1989.
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.