Throwback Thursday: In 1981, Margaret Atwood was our Woman of the Year

In honour of Ms. Atwood’s 75th birthday, we revisit our 1981 profile of the oft-misunderstood, but well-loved, Canadian literary icon.



The issue: January 1981

The times: Dynasty debuts on ABC; Justin Timberlake is born in Memphis, Tennessee; the FDA approves the use of extended-wear contact lenses.

Our Woman of the Year: Margaret Atwood. At age 41, having written four novels and nine books of poetry, the ever-prolific Atwood sat down with Chatelaine writer Judith Timson to talk writing, family, and her sometimes prickly relationship with the Canadian media in our Woman of the Year profile. That brilliant, beautiful, man-hating, but well-adjusted, somehow plain (though slightly exotic), happy and successful (albeit weird and pessimistic), but really perfectly normal cultural icon is her own best character,” said Timson. “[Atwood] wrote novels that showed women groping toward some understanding of themselves and their situation, but never finding resolution or redemption.” Atwood’s own story would go on to include further critical acclaim for works like The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake, a lengthy list of honourary degrees, children’s books, and a wholehearted embrace of technology (see: Twitter; the LongPen). And don’t expect the Canadian treasure’s creative deluge to slow anytime soon. As Atwood said herself way back in ’81, “The very act of writing is an act of hope; it’s an act of faith.” Happy birthday, Margaret — if you keep writing, we’ll keep reading.

Every Thursday, we bring you selections from our archive of 86 years of Chatelaine, featuring weird and wonderful recipes, vintage fashion and décor, and stories that still resonate today.