“The truest and most enduring impulse I have is simply to write.”
Alice Walker is an award-winning writer, activist and self-proclaimed “Womanist”—a term she coined in her book “In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens” (1974) to describe black feminists. The voices she brings to life in her novels, short stories and poems helped educate and inspire readers.
Walker was raised in Eatonton, Georgia, during segregation. She was the youngest of eight children born to poor sharecroppers.
Walker received her B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College in 1965. She moved back to the South to pursue civil rights work and met Mel Leventhal. Walker and Leventhal, a Jewish civil rights lawyer, were the first interracial couple to be legally married in Mississippi. Walker had her only child during the marriage. The couple divorced in 1976.
Walker began teaching at Wellesley College in 1972. Her course, dedicated to the study of African-American women writers, was the first of its kind.
Her most famous novel, “The Color Purple” (1983), won a National Book Award and made Walker the first African-American woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In 1985, the novel was made into a movie directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover. The film earned 11 Oscar nominations. In 2005, “The Color Purple” was adapted as a Broadway musical, with Winfrey as the lead financial backer.
Walker’s awards include a Guggenheim Foundation Grant, an American Book Award, a Lillian Smith Award and an O’Henry Award. She was inducted into the Georgia Writer’s Hall of Fame and the California Hall of Fame. In 1997, Walker was named Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association.
- “The Color Purple (1985).” The Internet Movie Database. June 18, 2008
- Danielle, Chris. Living By Grace: The Biographical Website About Author Alice Walker. April 1999
- Whitted, Qiana. “Alice Walker (b. 1944).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. May 12, 2008
- By the Light of My Father's Smile: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
- The Color Purple
- In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose
- Possessing the Secret of Joy: A Novel
- Revolutionary Petunias (Poems)
- The Third Life of Grange Copeland
- Warrior Marks: Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women
- The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart
- We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Inner Light in a Time of Darkness