Alice Walker

Walker Few writers have captured the rural experience of African Americans with as vivid a prose as Alice Walker. Born near Eatonton on February 9, 1944 in Putnam County to Minnie Tallulah Grant and Willie Lee Walker, Alice Malsenior (Tallulah-Kate) Walker remains today one of the South's most significant living writers and one of the world's most intriguing and provocative voices in print. While the brutality of rural black life is the subject of her novels, Alice Walker celebrates the power inherent in black women to overcome obstacles places in hteir paths. Her characters confront and often defeat the forces of racism, of community structures, and of family pressures that align to prevent them from creating a better world for themsleves and for others. After graduating as valedictorian from Eatonton's Butler-Baker School in 1961, Walker attended Spelman College in Atlanta before completing her undergraduate education in New York's Sarah Lawrence College in 1965. As a student she embraced the civil rights movement, later participating in voter registration drives in Georgia and Mssissippi and working in a welfare agency in New York City. She married Melvin Rosenman Leventhal in 1967, and they had a daughter, Rebecca Grant, in 1969, but were divorced by 1976. She published Once, her first poerty collection, in 1968 and her brilliant first novel, The Third Life of Grange Copeland, in 1970. Stints at various colleges as the writer in residence kept her teaching as she oublished additional collections of poetry and essays including Revolutionary Petunias which won the Southern Regional Council's Lillian Smith Award in 1973. The next year she moved to New York City to edit Ms. Magazine while working on a fictional memoir of the civil rights movement, Meridian, which she published in 1976. By then Guggenheim and MacDowell Colony Fellowships allowed her to concentrate on her writing and move to northern California. In 1982 she published The Color Purple which won the American Book Award and Pulitzer Prize, and which Steven Spielberg made into a major motion picture. She published the collection of essays, In Search of Our Mother's Gardens: Womanist Prose, in 1983. A decade later her own mother died and was buried in the family cemetery at Wards Chapel African American Methodist Episcopal Church. A prolific poet and novelist, Alice Walker's most recent works concern international social issues.


Photo courtesy of The Eatonton Messenger
Created 17 May 2000. Last Updated Friday, December 15, 2000.
© 2000 Eatonton Literary Festival