Alice in poverty, and as a young

Alice Walker is an African American
novelist, poet, and short story author as well. She has won many awards
throughout the years, including the Pulitzer Prize for her book The Color Purple. She is an amazing
author who is known for her outstanding works. Alice Walker is an award winning
African American novelist and poet that is known all across the world.

Alice Walker was born on February 9,
1944, and was the eighth child of Georgian sharecroppers, Minnie Tallulah and
Willie Lee Walker. According to Kathleen Cummings,” The Walkers lived in
poverty, and as a young girl, Walker experienced her mother’s frustration with
the burden or caring for eight children with so little means.” “In the summer
of 1952… Alice was playing ‘Cowboys and Indians’ with her brothers when she was
accidentally shot in her right eye by a BB gun pellet. (Mississippi Writers
& Musician Project)” When Walker was fourteen years old, one of her
brothers paid for her to have the “cataract” removed from her eye (Mississippi
Writers & Musician Project). Walker now has to wear glasses and cannot see
very well out of her right eye. While Walker was growing up, her mother
realized that Walker was special (Alice
Walker Author of The Color Purple page 26). She always gave Walker time to
read and think because she knew that Walker was going to grow up to be a very
intelligent child (Alice Walker Author of
The Color Purple page 26). She never

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expected Walker to do the chores
that needed to be done, because she thought she needed time to think and read (Alice Walker Author of The Color Purple page
26). Now, Walker is one of the best African American authors of this time.  So, all of that time her mother gave her to
read and think really paid off.

Alice
Walker Author of The Color Purple page
21 says, “at one time she wanted to become a scientist because she felt that
they helped people.” She eventually became her high school’s prom queen and
class valedictorian. Even though she was well liked in school, Walker still
felt like an outsider (New Georgia Encyclopedia). She had suffered with
depression all of her life, but in high school it was only getting worse.

Walker graduated high school in 1961. “Because of her disability, Alice
qualified for a scholarship given by the Georgia Department of Rehabilitation
to the physically challenged students. The award was for free textbooks and
half of her college expenses. Because of her high grades, she was offered a
scholarship from Spelman College which covered her the other half of her
expenses. (Kramer page 28)” Walker received a scholarship to Sarah Lawrence
College in Bronxville, New York, prior to the beginning her junior year of college.

As a result, she opted to finish her junior and senior years at Sarah Lawrence
(Mississippi Writers & Musician Project). She graduated from Sarah Lawrence
in 1965 with Bachelor of Arts degree. While attending Sarah Lawrence, Walker was
mentored by two highly regarded writers, Muriel Ruykeyser and Jane Coopen
(Kathleen Cummings). Walker says that the two helped shape her interests and
talents in writing. Walker still was suffering from depression at Sarah
Lawrence, and she suffered a serious bout of it during her senior year. She
even contemplated suicide, but she once again turned to writing to express her
feelings. And because of this dark time, Walker wrote a short story called To Hell With Dying (Kathleen Cummings).

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Walker was not only a great writer,
but she was also a mother and a loving wife at one point. Walker went on a trip
to Africa during the summer of 1964 for a visit to see how life was there.

After her return from Africa, she struggled with an unwanted pregnancy upon her
return to college (New Georgia Encyclopedia). “She speaks openly in her writing
about the mental and physical anguish experienced before deciding to have an
abortion. (Whitted)” Later on, in 1969, Walker completed her first novel, The
Third Life of Grange Copeland. That was also the year that her daughter,
Rebecca Grant was born. After she graduated from college, Walker married Melvyn
Roseman Leventhal, who was a white civil rights attorney. The couple moved from
Jackson Mississippi back to New York so that he could finish up law school. They
moved back to Jackson, where Walker worked as the black history consultant for
a Head Start program (New Georgia Encyclopedia). Then, Walker’s marriage was
starting to fall apart. ” Alice Walker’s difficult home life in Mississippi
resulted in depression. Her book Meridian
is set during this period of time. As a result, she and her daughter moved to
Massachusetts in 1972 where she accepted a teaching position at Wellesley
College and later on at the University of Massachusetts at Boston (Mississippi
Writers & Musicians Project).” Finally, in 1977, the couple got a divorce,
and Walker moved to northern California, where she lives and writes to this
day.

During the time Walker was going
through all of this, the Civil Rights Movement was happening in the U.S. Walker
is and has been a very strong and outspoken activist on many issues
(Mississippi Writers & Musicians Project). She supports causes like
antinuclear and environmental causes. Walker first got caught up in the Civil
Rights Movement in 1960 when she was seventeen. Walker says that while

 

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attending Sarah Lawrence, she felt
that she had more freedom (Alice Walker
Author of The Color Purple page 34). She said that she was in what she
called “an almost totally white society” when she moved from an all-black
school to a college that had only six African American students (Alice Walker Author of The Color Purple
page 34). In 1962, Walker was invited to Martin Luther King Jr.’s home in
recognition of her being invited to attend the Youth World Peace Festival in
Helsinki, Finland (Mississippi Writers & Musicians Project).” Alice Walker
was one of more than 250,000 people present for Dr. King’s famous ‘I Have a
Dream’ speech. (Kathleen Cummings)” Walker and her husband faced threats of
violence because of their interracial marriage, which was still illegal at the
time (Mississippi Writers & Musicians Project). Walker was a huge fan of
Dr. King, and when she heard that he had been murdered, she suffered from yet another
very severe bout of depression (Mississippi Writers & Musicians Project).

She suffered so much from the loss of her hero, that she could not control it
and lost her unborn child (Mississippi Writers & Musicians Project). She
later wrote a magazine article in the American
Scholar about the Civil Rights Movement (Alice Walker Author of The Color Purple page 44). ” In her essay,
Walker listed all the good effects that the movement had accomplished. She said
it gave them hope for the future, and brought an end to a pattern of African
Americans as servants. The movement also gave them heroes such as Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. Most of all, it gave them each other. (Kramer page 44)” Walker
is still involved in some activist groups to this day.

Alice Walker is best known for her
novel The Color Purple, but she has
written thirty-three major works (Mississippi Writers & Musicians Project).

“In spite of her critics, Walker’s reputation in the literary world was greatly
enhanced and she received as a fellowship from the distinguished Readcliff
Institute, a part of Harvard University. (Kathleen Cummings)” Walker has

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had an influence on several
authors, including Renaissance writer
Jean Toomer, black Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks, South African novelist Bessie
Head, and white Georgia writer Flannery O’Connor (Whitted). In 1968, Walker
published her first book of poems, Once.

The poems are based on her experiences during the Civil Rights Movement and her
travels to Africa. ” The poems in Once
grew not only from the sorrowful period in which Walker contemplated death but
also from her triumphant decision to reclaim life. (Whitted)” The first novel
Walker wrote, The Third Life of Grange
Copeland, was a success and Walker’s career took off. “In The Third Life of Grange Copeland,
Walker depicts a rival African American family trapped in a cycle of violence
and economic dependency. Although the novel received widespread critical
acclaim, many in the African American community criticized Walker for her harsh
portrayal of black men. (Cummings)” Walker was appointed writer-in-residence at
Tugaloo College in 1970. ” Continuing to write, in 1973, Alice published her
first collection of short stories, In
Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women, and her second volume of poetry, Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems (Jackson).”
” Many of the narrative poems of her second volume, Petunias and Other Poems, revisit her southern past, while other
verses challenge superficial political militancy. (Whitted)” “After writing The Color Purple in 1982, Walker went
back to teaching. She became a Distinguished Writer in the Department of African-American
Studies at the University of California, Berkeley that spring, and taught
creative writing at Brandeis University that fall. (Mississippi Writers &
Musicians Project)” Walker still continues to write amazing novels and poems to
this day.

Alice Walker has had a huge impact
on the writing world. She is a very creative writer. Instead of writing about
fictional things, she relates her stories to actual events that have happened

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in either her life or the real
world. She has won many awards because of her unique way of writing. She puts
so much feeling into her books that her readers can feel the same emotions she
felt when she wrote it. Alice Walker is changing the way people write in the
world.

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