> Skip to content
Read an extract About the book
  • Published: 25 October 1996
  • ISBN: 9780099740919
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $19.99

The Handmaid's Tale




The Sunday Times No.1 bestseller that triggered a cultural phenomenon

** THE SUNDAY TIMES NO. 1 BESTSELLER **
Discover the dystopian novel that started a phenomenon before you read the 2019 Booker Prize-winning sequel The Testaments
NOW AN AWARD-WINNING TV SERIES STARRING ELISABETH MOSS

Offred is a Handmaid in The Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known as the United States. She is placed in the household of The Commander, Fred Waterford – her assigned name, Offred, means ‘of Fred’. She has only one function: to breed. If Offred refuses to enter into sexual servitude to repopulate a devastated world, she will be hanged. Yet even a repressive state cannot eradicate hope and desire. As she recalls her pre-revolution life in flashbacks, Offred must navigate through the terrifying landscape of torture and persecution in the present day, and between two men upon which her future hangs.

Masterfully conceived and executed, this haunting vision of the future places Margaret Atwood at the forefront of dystopian fiction.
‘This novel seems ever more vital in the present day’ Observer
READ THE TESTAMENTS, THE BOOKER PRIZE-WINNING SEQUEL TO THE HANDMAID’S TALE, TODAY

  • Pub date: 25 October 1996
  • ISBN: 9780099740919
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $19.99

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 him; and the 2017 release of the award-winning Channel 4 TV series. Sales of the English language edition have now topped 8 million copies worldwide.

Atwood has won numerous awards including the Booker Prize, 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. 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 The Handmaid's Tale

“Compulsively readable”

Daily Telegraph

“Out of a narrative shadowed by terror, gleam sharp perceptions, brilliant intense images and sardonic wit”

Peter Kemp, Independent

“The Handmaid's Tale is both a superlative exercise in science fiction and a profoundly felt moral story”

Angela Carter

“Moving, vivid and terrifying. I only hope it's not prophetic”

Conor Cruise O'Brien, The Listener

“The images of brilliant emptiness are one of the most striking aspects of this novel about totalitarian blindness...the effect is chilling”

Linda Taylor, Sunday Times

“Powerful...admirable”

Robert Irwin, Time Out

“It's hard to believe it is 25 years since it was first published, but its freshness, its anger and its disciplined, taut prose have grown more admirable in the intervening years... Atwood's novel was an ingenious enterprise that showed, with out hysteria, the real dangers to women of closing their eyes to patriarchal”

Lesley McDowell, Independent on Sunday

“Turned 25 this year and...worth re-reading. As you grow, such books grow with you”

Erica Wagner, The Times, Christmas round up

“Fiercely political and bleak, yet witting and wise...this novel seems ever more vital in the present day”

Observer

“The mother of all feminist dystopian novels.”

Sarra Manning, Red

“The novel satirises the strain of evangelical puritanism in American culture and the objectification and control of women’s bodies. It is more broadly a contemporary myth of despotic power, and how such power deforms those who are subjected to it.”

Tim Adams, Observer

“It's mesmerising, compelling and considered one of her best.”

Jennifer McShane, Image Magazine

“One of Atwood’s finest pieces of work serves as a great reminder of what humanity is capable of.”

Hannah Dunn, Red

“Margaret Atwood is a wry and perceptive observer of society as well as an original storyteller”

Cecilia Heyes, Psychologist

“Compulsively readable”

Daily Telegraph

“Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit and astute perception”

Essence

“Out of a narrative shadowed by terror, gleam sharp perceptions, brilliant intense images and sardonic wit”

Peter Kemp, Independent

“This is a novel pervaded by violence, sex, terror, but also by contemplation, analysis and – occasionally – by hope… Atwood shockingly reveals what we could be capable of.”

Elly McCausland, Cherwell Newspaper

“The Handmaid's Tale is both a superlative exercise in science fiction and a profoundly felt moral story”

Angela Carter

“Moving, vivid and terrifying. I only hope it's not prophetic”

Conor Cruise O'Brien, The Listener

“The images of brilliant emptiness are one of the most striking aspects of this novel about totalitarian blindness...the effect is chilling”

Linda Taylor, Sunday Times

“Powerful...admirable”

Robert Irwin, Time Out

“It's hard to believe it is 25 years since it was first published, but its freshness, its anger and its disciplined, taut prose have grown more admirable in the intervening years... Atwood's novel was an ingenious enterprise that showed, with out hysteria, the real dangers to women of closing their eyes to patriarchal”

Lesley McDowell, Independent on Sunday

“Turned 25 this year and...worth re-reading. As you grow, such books grow with you”

Erica Wagner, The Times, Christmas round up

“Fiercely political and bleak, yet witting and wise...this novel seems ever more vital in the present day”

Observer

“The mother of all feminist dystopian novels.”

Sarra Manning, Red


Discover More

News
Elisabeth Moss, star of the hit TV show The Handmaid’s Tale, has narrated the audiobook edition of Margaret Atwood’s classic novel.

Related titles