It turns out that we have a “sinister-looking” cleaning lady to thank for the most iconic costume in The Handmaid’s Tale. In an exclusive clip from Margaret Atwood’s MasterClass creative writing course, the author explains that a creepy ad from the 1940s inspired the handmaids’ signature look.
“The costume is partly inspired by nuns, of course,” Atwood says in the clip, “but also by the Old Dutch Cleanser package of the 1940s, which showed this pretty sinister-looking woman holding a great big stick. She was supposed to be chasing the dirt, but she had a bonnet that was hiding her face. So I think I imprinted on that as a child; it was quite a mysterious figure.”
Intrigued? Here’s the ad:
You can view the rest of Atwood’s explanation in the clip below:
The trailer for Atwood’s Fall 2018 course premiered today, and pre-enrollment is now available at $90 and $180 price points. The course description states that Atwood “will teach her process for writing speculative and historical fiction, and discuss novels based on dystopian societies.” Students will also get “a glimpse of Atwood’s research materials and the first handwritten draft of The Handmaid’s Tale, as well as the manuscript draft materials of Alias Grace.”
Atwood is most famous for her 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which Hulu adapted into an Emmy Award-winning TV series (check out our review of the Season Two finale here). Other notable works include the MaddAddam Trilogy and Alias Grace, her Booker Prize-nominated novel that was adapted into a TV miniseries by Netflix last year.
You can learn more about Atwood’s creative writing course at the MasterClass website.