> Skip to content
Play sample
  • Published: 14 August 2017
  • ISBN: 9780099594024
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $22.99


The 'riotous, insanely readable' new novel from the author of THE HANDMAID'S TALE

The 'riotous, insanely readable' (Observer) retelling of The Tempest from the 2019 Booker Prize-winning author of THE TESTAMENTS.

‘Riotous, insanely readable and just the best fun...'Observer

Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other. It will boost his reputation. It will heal emotional wounds.

Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. Also brewing revenge.

After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?


  • Published: 14 August 2017
  • ISBN: 9780099594024
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. Her novels include Cat's Eye, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin and the MaddAddam trilogy. Her 1985 classic, The Handmaid's Tale, went back into the bestseller charts with the election of Donald Trump, when the Handmaids became a symbol of resistance against the disempowerment of women, and with the 2017 release of the award-winning Channel 4 TV series. Its sequel, The Testaments, was published in 2019 and was a global number one bestseller and won the Booker Prize.

Atwood has won numerous awards including the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Imagination in Service to Society, the Franz Kafka Prize, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade and the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2019 she was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to literature. She has also worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, librettist, playwright and puppeteer. She lives in Toronto, Canada.

Also by Margaret Atwood

See all

Praise for Hag-Seed

The new novels promise an intriguing opportunity to revisit the tales we know so well and see them in a new light.

The Culture Trip

A delight... not only an unputdownable tale of revenge, it is also a masterclass in how to teach Shakespeare to those who think they won't like it

Alice O'Keefe, Bookseller

Atwood joins the roll call of literary stars retelling Shakespeare's plays... masterful... My favourite retelling so far


Atwood’s canny remix offers multiple pleasures: seeing the inmates’ takes on their characters, watching Felix make use of the limited resources the prison affords (legal and less so), and marveling at the ways she changes, updates, and parallels the play’s magic, grief, vengeance, and showmanship

Publishers Weekly

So inventive, heartfelt, and swiftly rendered... Highly recommended.

Library Journal

Hag-Seed is funny and poignant, and offers much to amuse and delight.

Anne Sexton, Hot Press

Funny and dark, Hag-Seed is as clever and full of layers as Shakespeare's original. The Bard would be proud


Inspired and witty

Woman & Home

Witty and clever

Good Housekeeping

Atwood on mischievous form


Blows layers of dust off the play while asking clever questions about the relationship between power, delusion and creativity


A triumph... The book illuminates the breadth and depth of the whole play. The troupe's workshops on it fizz with perception as Atwood transmits the pleasurable buzz of exploring a literary masterpiece. There won't be a more glowing tribute to Shakespeare in his 400th anniversary year

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

A slyly inventive, intricately constructed homage with plenty of its own points to make

Hepzibah Anderson, Mail on Sunday

An absolute triumph... ravishing... I am not ashamed to say that I didn't just have a lump in my throat by the end of Hag-Seed, I had tears on the fringed curtains of mine eyes

Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

Surpassingly brilliant... without question the cleverest "neo-Shakespearean novel" I have ever read... the learning and the critical analysis are worn exceptionally lightly, always subordinated to wit, invention, characterisation and slick twists of plot... wonderfully ingenious

Jonathan Bate, The Times

Hag-Seed is the fourth novel in Hogarth's Shakespeare series marking the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death, and by far the best. Everything in the play has a place in the novel -- and it's a ripping yarn too

Fiona Wilson, The Times

An inventive riff on Shakespeare's last solo play... done with gusto and extravaganza... gives the old play, yet again, new life

Alexandra Harris, The Guardian

Atwood's superlative retelling of The Tempest owes as much to Machiavelli as to Shakespeare. It is another outstanding contribution to the Hogarth Shakespeare series ... With a motley crew of inmates, a creative lexicon of Shakespearean-style oaths and the mischievous antics of a modern-day Ariel, this reimagining of The Tempest imbues the spirit of the original with an energetic and poetic transformation. A thoroughly engrossing take on a timeless classic

Martyn Colebrook, The Lady

Genuinely moving ... The tender way in which Atwood handles [Felix's] story really gives Hag-Seed its power

Samantha Ellis, Literary Review

Margaret Atwood throws a handful of theatrical glittery confetti over Shakespeare's The Tempest ... A compelling tale of a bereaved father -- haunted by the memory of his lost daughter -- who learns to face up to "the plain, unvarnished grime of real life", transforming it into something buoyant, resonant and hopeful

Eithne Farry, Sunday Express

The novel shines a thrilling new light on The Tempest's themes of revenge and forgiveness... as well as making a strong case for art's ability to "set you free" by helping you understand yourself.

Helen Brown, Sunday Telegraph

Stella Loves: Taking on a re-write of Shakespeare's The Tempest is a tall order. But Margaret Atwood is well up to the task with her new novel Hag-Seed

Stella Magazine

Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood's exhilarating reworking of the play for the Hogarth Shakespeare series, mixes high drama, deep feeling and wild fun... in a story that is both realistic and otherworldly

Lindsay Duguid, The Times Litaray Supplement

Fellow fans, I am thrilled to report: Atwood is just as brilliant as ever. I would suggest scheduling some cozy armchair time with her book in the weeks to come

Yahoo, Top Reads this Autumn

Great fun, full of wit and invention and incident

Irish Independent

An ingenious construction.

Metro, Claire Allfree

She merely understands that fiction can be a powerful weapon of persuasion… A woman with inexhaustible talents

Sara Keating, Irish Times

[A] triumphant reworking of The Tempest.

Sunday Times

An absolute triumph… Among the most intelligent and inspiring readings of The Tempest… I am sorry that the publishers didn’t ask Atwood to reimagine all 37 plays.

Stuart Kelly

An ingenious construction.

BBC Radio Scotland, The Janice Forsyth Show

It's all great fun, full of wit and invention and incident… And Hag-Seed is very funny, very often. The scenes where Felix's hard-chaw prisoners insult each other strictly through Shakespearean language are especially enjoyable.

Darragh McManus, Irish Independent

An unqualified success... an enlightening and exciting exploration of Shakespeare's themes... A wonderfully intelligent book

John Harding, Daily Mail

At its heart Hag-Seed is a love letter to Shakespeare and a passionate treatise on the power of language, poetry and the arts. But it is also a study of loss and love and the power of forgiveness to heal when all seemed lost

Marnie Gilmore, Daily Express

Riotous, insanely readable and just the best fun... The novel builds to a fantastic climax of dark calamity... There is so much exuberance and heart and wonder in this novel that the only thing I want to happen next is for Atwood to rewrite the whole of Shakespeare. (No offence, Will.)

Viv Groskop, Observer

Atwood at her bewitching best

LA Review of Books

A wonder... a work of genius... a sheer delight... In this shimmering tale that celebrates Shakespeare's tricky genius, his immortal reach, Atwood has given us something for everyone

Globe & Mail, Canada

[A] wry, clever romp… Atwood knows the play, is sharp as nails and sees the potential in theatre harnessing our Brave New World of computer technology.

Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

Atwood’s take on The Tempest is intense and extravagant… Atwood beautifully reimagine Shakespeare’s The Tempest… She writes with gusto and brilliance.

UK Press Syndication

Hag-Seed enchants, endears and empowers. Seeing The Tempest through the cast of characters Atwood creates and the author's own overarching narrative gives the original play new life.

Morning Star

Atwood beautifully reimagines Shakespeare's The Tempest as Felix's personal and professional stories so aptly mirror the plot of the mystical and magical play. She writes with gusto and brilliance, making her the dream author to be part of the Shakespeare series.

Irish News

Atwood reinterprets the play as a heartbreaking novel, told in gorgeous yet economical prose

Editor's Choice, New York Times Book Review

The most successful 'retelling' of Shakespeare yet in Hogarth's anniversary series [...] us a thrilling revenge drama ... [It] rattles along with Atwood nimbly reworking the classic

Donal O'Donoghue, RTE

Atwood never loses sight of the original… Hag-Seed is not only a fine example of the shape-shifting versatility of Shakespeare’s texts, but a successful novel in its own right… Hag-Seed displays Atwood’s inventiveness at its shining best, a novel that enchants on its own terms and returns you to the enchantments of the original

Rebecca Abrams, Financial Times

[Atwood's] unique take on vengeance, enchantment and second chances is sure to delight old and new fans alike

Image Magazine

A novel of great humour and creativity

Socialist Review

A fitting tribute to a play built on magic and illusion. It’s a celebration of theatre, yes, but just as much a celebration of learning and teaching. Atwood’s spellbinding adaptation is a testament to Shakespeare’s lasting relevance.

Grace Beard, Culture Trip

Atwood’s novel reflects the play’s multifaceted nature… A fun and imaginative novel.

Brad Davies, i, Book of the Year

Atwood unrolls a dazzling remake of The Tempest… Ebullient comedy and keen perceptiveness combine in a bravura fictional tribute to Shakespeare.

Peter Kemp, Sunday Times, Book of the Year

A passionately original, heady, often musical modern remix.

A.M. Holmes, Observer, Book of the Year

I’d love to wake up on Christmas morning with Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed nestled in my stocking.

Rohan Silva, Observer, Book of the Year

[A] highlight.

Justine Jordan, Guardian, Book of the Year

[Hag-Seed is] particularly clever and witty, with layer upon layer of correspondences with the original text waiting to be teased out by readers.

Suzi Feay, Tablet

What’s impressive here is not just 77-year-old Atwood’s undimmed brilliance but the sheer effort she puts into the project… An absorbing read but also an erudite examination and explanation of the play’s themes. Not to be missed.

John Harding, Daily Mail, Book of the Year

[It] would make an amazing Christmas present.

Starburst, Book of the Year

Atwood brings forth a cast of characters that comfortably inhabit their own world but often burst out of the page in song and rhyme. It is a playful piece of writing, tempered by grief and revenge and the bitterness that can consume, but ultimately this is a book full of the joys of redemption and hope. Wonderful.

Carina Buckley, Times Higher Education

Cleverly done… Very complex, like a set of Russian dolls. But it works amazingly well.

William Leith, Evening Standard

Delightfully crazy.

Daily Telegraph

Rich and inventive… The play-within-a-play tripe is audaciously Shakespearean, and so is Atwood’s free-ranging imagination and witty way with language.

Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday

Masterful… Clever, funny and tender

Woman & Home

She casts The Tempest adrift in a prison and makes a magisterial case for the timeless, classless relevance of Shakespeare’s plays.

Jim Crace, New Statesman

I am in awe of Atwood

AM Homes, Guardian

A real must read

Elizabeth Mansfield, Yorkshire Post

Discover more

Penguin 2020 Secondary Catalogue

Browse the extensive list of books for high school students.