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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood First UK edition 1986

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood First UK edition 1986


London: Jonathan Cape, 1986


8vo., black publisher’s cloth, backstrip lettered in gilt, with publisher’s device gilt to foot; preserved in the striking unclipped pictorial dust jacket (£9.95 net), with cover illustration by Fred Marcellino, and a black-and-white photograph of the author to the lower flap; pp.[xii], 13-324, a fine copy, essentially, perhaps mildly bumped to head, and pages faintly and evenly toned, as is common; jacket clean and bright, ever-so-slightly creased to the upper edge. 


First UK edition, originally published in Canada the previous year. This edition becoming increasingly more elusive. 


A pioneering work of dystopian fiction, The Handmaid’s Tale is told from the perspective of Offred, a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. In an age of declining birth rates, where women are forced to copulate against their will, and a repressive totalitarian state attempts to eradicate all hope and desire, the novel centers around themes of patriarchal societies, repression, and women’s rights. In 2019 a sequel, The Testaments, was released, winning the Booker Prize in conjunction with Benardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other. 


In 2017, the book was adapted into an award-winning television series starring Elizabeth Moss in the title role, with Atwood serving as consulting producer. 

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