Alice Walker

Alice Walker was born in the rural community of Eatonton, Georgia, in 1944. Most of Eatonton’s residents were tenant farmers. When she was eight years old, Walker was blinded in one eye when her brother accidentally shot her with a BB gun. Having grown self-conscious as a result of her injury, Alice withdrew to writing poetry. She began her college education at Spelman in 1961 but transferred to Sarah Lawrence in 1963. After graduating in 1965, she went to Mississippi as a civil rights activist. There she met Melvyn Leventhal, a white civil rights attorney, whom she married in 1967. The Leventhals were the first legally married interracial couple to live in Jackson, Mississippi. They divorced in 1976. Alice Walker’s first novel was published in 1970 and her second one in 1976. Both books dealt with the civil rights movement. The Color Purple was published in 1982 and brought Walker overnight success and recognition as an important American writer. In 1989 Walker published The Temple of My Familiar, in which she used a mythic context as a framework to cover a half million years of human history. In this work, Walker explored the social structure of a matriarchal society and the beginning of patriarchal ones. As in her other works, the author explored racial and sexual relationships. Walker’s novel, Possessing the Secret of Joy, was published in 1992. Along with novels, Walker has written many collected short stories and books of poetry. Many of her stories have been included in anthologies. An active contributor to periodicals, Walker has had her works published in many magazines, including, Harper’s, Negro Digest, Black World, Essence, and the Denver Quarterly. Besides her writing career, Walker has been a teacher of black studies, a writer in residence, and a professor of literature at a number of colleges and universities. She has received numerous awards for her writing, including a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Guggenheim Award, an O. Henry Award, an American Book Award, and the Pulitzer Prize.

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