Emma Watson famously played a princess on the big screen, but in real life she’s a fairy – a book fairy, to be exact.
The British actress joined forces with The Book Fairies, an international organization of volunteers who anonymously leave second-hand or donated books in public spaces, to hide free copies of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” around Paris on Wednesday and Thursday.
The ‘Beauty and the Beast” actress took to Twitter to announce that she had teamed up with the organization to give away 100 copies of the novel by hiding them at various spots in the city.
Watson also included handwritten French notes in each individual copy. Needless to say, fans of the “Harry Potter” star were thrilled.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” is a 1985 novel that is set in a dystopian, futuristic world that is plagued by social unrest and a sharply declining birth rate. Women are reduced to child-bearing vessels. In recent years, the book has sparked many discussions – and much controversy – regarding women’s issues, particularly abortion rights.
In March, a group of women in Texas dressed up in blood-red robes and white caps, the traditional garb of a Handmaid, to protest a group of proposed bills that would tighten abortion laws in the state.
Many American high schools have also banned the book from its libraries, claiming the content is too sexually graphic. The American Library Association ranked it No. 88 on its list of most frequently challenged books from 2000 to 2009. The association maintains the list to keep track of books that are subject of attempted bans or censorship.
This year, the online streaming service Hulu created a TV show based off the book, starring “Mad Men” star Elisabeth Moss. It has since received critical acclaim and has been renewed for a second season.
The concept of handing out free books by leaving them in a public space is not a new one. Cordelia Oxley, the founder of the organization, originally ran Books On The Underground, which hides books on the London Tube system. Oxley said she wanted to take the service worldwide, so she started The Book Fairies.
The Book Fairies was created in March in honor of International Women’s Day, according to the group’s website. Watson is an official book fairy and partners with the organization to share books from her feminist book club, Our Shared Shelf.
According to the website, there have been about 50,000 books shared by more than 5,000 “book fairies” in 100 countries. To become a book fairy, all you need is some books, some stickers and a willingness to share the knowledge.