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Margaret Atwood

Sue Lawley's castaway is writer Margaret Atwood.

Sue Lawley's castaway this week is the writer Margaret Atwood. Born just after the outbreak of the Second World War, Margaret Atwood spent much of her childhood in the Canadian outback where her father's work involved studying insects. She grew up mostly without television, cinema, mains electricity or even a proper road to civilisation. For company she had only her parents and her brother, with whom she wrote "serials, mainly about space travel".

It wasn't until her teens that the urge to write struck seriously, an event she describes as "a large, invisible thumb descended from the sky and pressed down on the top of my head. A poem formed." After University, a spell in England and a period teaching early morning classes to engineering students she had her first novel, The Edible Woman, published. Since then she has written nine more novels, four of which were Booker nominated with The Blind Assassin finally winning in 2000. Three of those novels have been made into films: Surfacing, The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin. She has also published some dozen books of poetry, five collections of short stories, four books for children and assorted non-fiction titles. Her latest novel, Oryx and Crake, set in a genetically engineered, post-apocalyptic landscape is published on May 5th this year.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: Shepherd's Hymn from Pastoral Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven
Book: Stories from 1001 Arabian Nights - traditional
Luxury: A huge vat of Culpepers Rose Geranium bath salts

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 18 Apr 2003 09:00

Music Played

  • The Platters

    The Great Pretender

    • The Platters Golden HIts.
    • Mercury.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Ludwig van Beethoven

      Symphony No. 6 in F major 'Pastoral' - 5th movement (Shepherds' Song)

      Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra.

      • Beethoven: Symphonies 6 (Pastoral) No8.
      • EMI.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Là ci darem la mano (from Don Giovanni)

    Soloist: Bo Skovhus and Nuccia Focile

    • Don Giovanni.
    • Telarc.
  • Cynthia Gooding

    Mary Hamilton

    • Queen of Hearts.
    • Elektra.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Goldberg Variations - Aria

    Soloist: Glenn Gould

    • Glenn Gould Edition.
    • Sony Classical.
  • Lotte Lenya

    Alabama Song

    • O Moon of Alabama.
    • Capriccio.
  • Van Morrison with Them

    Here Comes The Night

    • Them featuring Van Morrison.
    • London.
  • Kate & Anna McGarrigle

    Talk to Me of Mendocino

    • Kate and Anna McGarrigle.
    • Hannibal.
  • Book Choice

    • The Arabian Nights (1001 Nights)

  • Luxury Choice

    • A huge vat of Culpepers Rose Geranium bath salts


Role Contributor
Presenter Sue Lawley
Interviewed Guest Margaret Atwood


  • Sun 13 Apr 2003 11:15
  • Fri 18 Apr 2003 09:00

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