Margaret Atwood: I can’t read my own handwriting

She is a Booker Prize-winning author – but Margaret Atwood has revealed she cannot decipher her own handwriting.

The writer, 80, known for her fiction such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace, pens her poetry by hand.

“I accumulate poetry… I’m always writing it but I put it in a drawer,”  she told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.

“I handwrite poetry in cursive, with a pen or pencil, remember those?

“I put those (poems) in a drawer. When the pile gets big enough I take them out and translate them into typescript.

“When that gets big enough I lay them all out and see if there’s a book.”

But she added: “My handwriting is quite bad.

“I have to try to figure out what I actually wrote on those pieces of paper and sometimes I have to guess.

“It is a bit like deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics.”

Margaret Atwood will be following in the footsteps of Angelina Jolie, who previously guest-edited the Today programme
Margaret Atwood will be following in the footsteps of Angelina Jolie who previously has guest edited the Today Programme (Ian West/PA)

Atwood has published a new book of poems called Dearly – her first collection in more than a decade.

She will also be guest editing the Today Programme this Christmas.

“The theme is ‘change’: we’re going to be looking at changes we hope will be positive,” she said of the programme.

“And changes in the area of greenery and conservation efforts… which is going to be a very important theme in the next few years.”

Previous guest editors of the Radio 4 show have included the Duke of Sussex, Angelina Jolie and Greta Thunberg.

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