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On November 28 at the Canada House on Trafalgar Square, Margaret Atwood was named a Companion of Literature and inaugurated as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. No more than ten writers are Companions at any one time, and it is considered the RSL’s highest honor.
Fellows sign into a great roll book using either Byron’s pen or Dickens’s quill; Atwood used Dickens’ quill. (Though she tested both out first in the editor’s notebook).
A woman in the audience asked about the future of gender relations; Atwood responded with, “Here’s a shocking piece of news for you: not all women are nice.” But, Fergusson reminds us, Atwood has a warmer side, too. “Speaking about her appetite for new technology—Twitter, Wattpad, Byliner—she revealed an overwhelming desire to ‘enable literature’ among people without regular access to bookshops, or libraries.”
Margaret Atwood has been the leader in her field and her art for decades, and now she’s ushering in new writing and publishing technologies. Atwood has embraced social media (and even defended the Internet by saying it encouraged literacy) by connecting with readers and spreading the word about issues important to her and her fans, such as possible library cuts in Toronto, via Twitter. Atwood is now working with Wattpad, an online writing community and has co-founded Fanado, a service that provides a “distinct combination of face-to-face online meetings with legally verifiable signatures.”
Writing for the Guardian, Atwood responds to naysayers and those who simply wonder why she doesn’t just relax a bit:
Maybe my dates with Wattpad are a bit undignified. But at my age you can afford to be undignified. You’re free to explore, and to guinea-pig yourself, and to stretch the boundaries.